And now, Bob McDonnell isn't the only one AWOL from Virginia's school reform scene.

Earlier this month, Dropout Nation criticized Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and the Old Dominion’s political leadership for failing to aggressively embrace school reform. The apparent unwillingness of the governor to actually use his political capital this year to push through a school choice measure (and push for a more-aggressive law allowing for greater expansion of charter schools in the last) was just one of numerous examples of non-existent political and civic leadership on overhauling the state’s public schools. The results of the woeful leadership — including falling behind Florida in improving education prospects for poor and minority children — led your editor to demand that parents do what their elected officials and school districts will not.

So today’s news that McDonnell’s Secretary of Education, Gerard Robinson, is heading to Florida to head up the Sunshine State’s own efforts is hardly shocking. The former Black Alliance for Educational Options chief executive hasn’t exactly been able to gain make much progress since becoming head of the state’s education secretariat last year — and McDonnell hasn’t been all that helpful on that end. In fact, Gov. McDonnell’s press staff could hardly muster a list of accomplishments under Robinson’s tenure for the press release announcing his departure.  This also says quite a bit about McDonnell’s own lack of success on the education front.

Certainly there is plenty that McDonnell could be doing when it comes to reform. And he can’t use the excuse that Virginia’s top executive office is weak in influence. All he has to do is look to Indiana — another weak governor state — where his fellow Republican, Mitch Daniels, has teamed up with state Superintendent Tony Bennett to push through the expansion of charter schools, creation of a new school voucher plan, and slowly overhauling how the state’s ed schools recruit and train aspiring teachers. Given what Scott Walker is doing in Wisconsin, the efforts of Chris Christie in New Jersey, and moves by Florida’s Rick Scott and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, McDonnell’s lack of action becomes even more stupendous to behold.

McDonnell has a lot of work to do. It can be done. Simply pressing the state board of education to overhaul the Old Dominion’s lowly-ranked reading and math curriculum standards (or simply replacing it with Common Core) and ending the handing out of so-called “modified standard” and “special” diplomas (which allows their schools to avoid teaching them Algebra I and other state-mandated requirements), would be important steps in the right direction.

But right now, McDonnell will have to find a successor to Robinson with the stature, credibility and force of personality needed to confront the state’s educational ancien regime. More importantly, McDonnell needs to actually back the successor with his own clout. Otherwise, Virginia will remain as much a laggard on overhauling teacher quality, installing a college preparatory curricula, and expanding school choice as it ever was.