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Cuccinelli And McAuliffe Find Common Ground: Dislike Of Education Reform Law

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Virginia's gubernatorial candidates don't agree on much. But both Attorney General and Republican contender Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe say they would not sign off on Gov. Bob McDonnell's education reform package, which would allow the state to take over failing schools and assign letter grades to schools based on student performance.

During a recent campaign visit, Cuccinelli spoke of his education proposals, and while he does support school choice, he does not support the law passed by the General Assembly.

"This is something I want to see expand, but it must always be consistent with the Constitution, and I know how to get the Constitution changed if that's the proper route to go," he said.

Cuccinelli recently said that he would not defend the state takeover of failing schools when it reaches the courts. A pair of groups in Norfolk have challenged the law, while officials in Alexandria have floated the idea of splitting a school in two to avoid a state takeover.

McAuliffe, who does believe education reforms are needed, dislikes a different provision of the law—a new school-ratings system.

"The second you give that school and F, you have stigmatized the children, you have stigmatized the school and the teachers and you have stigmatized the community. And once you have stigmatized the community, people won't move in and buy homes," he said.

McAuliffe suggests putting together a team to discuss best practices and fixing the underperforming schools. Cuccinelli also unveiled a higher education reform package, including locking in rates for four years for incoming college freshman.

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