Since Virginia has so few charter schools, it was heartening to see the Richmond City School Board, after much political back-and-forth and demagoguery, approve the Patrick Henry Elementary School of Science and Arts. Even then it took three attempts to get a contract signed by the board and the Patrick Henry Initiative, the first two containing set-ups for failure by opponents within the school administration (who developed the contracts). After a reasonable contract was developed by board member Keith West, offered by the board and accepted by PHI, there was good reason for a semblance of optimism among education reformers. The sooner it gets started and, hopefully, is a success, the sooner more charter schools might emerge and, perhaps, finally, the General Assembly will loosen its limitations and obstacles to starting more such education options. It is not a point of Virginia pride that, after years of successful charter schools around the country, this is Virginia's first elementary charter school.
Alas, word came down Friday that PHI will need another year to get ready to open (see Richmond Times-Dispatch, here). The wrangling over the contract set its timeline too far back and it was concerned about rushing to open rather than preparing to educate properly. The due dilligence is welcome, but it doesn't soften the blow of expectations.
We continue to wish PHI the best of luck. We look forward to its success and hope it will become a beacon of emulation across Virginia.