2 Richmond-area HBCUs plan to build laboratory schools

August 7, 2022 GMT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Two Richmond-area historically Black universities are planning to build college partnership laboratory schools.

Details on plans by Virginia State University in Ettrick and Virginia Union University in Richmond are scant. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that leaders at the two universities can’t say where the schools will be built, how many students they will serve or who will teach the classes.

A spokesperson for Virginia Union declined to speak in detail about the university’s plan.

But a VSU dean said opening a lab school brings the university closer to its community, delivers real-life experience and innovation to K-12 students, and helps education leaders learn more about what works and what doesn’t between a teacher and the classroom.

“We’re definitely interested in partnering with our surrounding community to effect change in education,” Willis Walter, dean of the College of Education at Virginia State, told the newspaper.

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The two universities are among the first in the state to seize an opportunity introduced by Gov. Glenn Youngkin this year. In June, the General Assembly allocated $100 million toward seed funding for lab schools.

The law allows for colleges and universities with teacher education programs to open lab schools.

Lab schools can have specific focuses, such as STEM, at-risk students, special education or career and technical education, according to Virginia law. The schools, which can offer alternative instruction, scheduling, management and structure, award spots through a lottery based on availability. Students pay no tuition.