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Glenn Youngkin Keeping his Word to Virginia Parents on Education Reforms

AMAC Exclusive – By Eleanor Vaughn

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When Glenn Youngkin was swept into the Governor’s Mansion last year as the first Republican elected statewide in Virginia since 2009, it was largely thanks to parents—Republican and Democrat—who were outraged by what their children were being taught in schools. They demanded greater transparency and accountability from their public schools, and Youngkin said he would deliver it. 

So far, the new governor has made good on that promise. In the short time, he’s been in office, Youngkin has taken executive action to ban Critical Race Theory, ordered a comprehensive review of the Virginia Department of Education and worked with the Virginia General Assembly to pass legislation to lift mask mandates and limit sexually explicit material in schools. Additionally, Youngkin has filled top education posts in his administration with individuals committed to his vision for renewed accountability and focus on academic excellence within Virginia’s public school system.

By March 1st, parents across. Virginia will be able to choose whether or not to send their children to school in a mask. Furthermore, the new law also makes in-person learning a requirement for schools. Only in extreme circumstances will remote learning be allowed to replace in-person instruction. Since the pandemic has definitively demonstrated the disadvantages of remote learning—children falling behind, parents struggling to balance work and education—the guarantee of in-person schooling is a good sign for the future of education in Virginia. The legislation Youngkin called for passed with bipartisan support in the Democratic-led Virginia Senate, where three Democratic senators crossed party lines to vote in favor of it.

Similarly, this week a judge issued a ruling against a Loudoun County mask mandate, and ordered that masks be optional immediately. Furthermore, all mask-related disciplinary action will be removed from students’ records. 

The Virginia Senate also passed a bill recently giving parents more options concerning the presentation of certain materials in schools. Under the provisions of the legislation, public schools will be required to give parents information about sexually explicit content being taught in class and then provide alternatives for students whose parents want to opt their child out of that instruction. This bill was also passed with bipartisan support, with two Democrats voting in favor of it.

The bill next goes to the Republican-controlled House of Delegates, where it is expected to pass and then be sent to Youngkin’s desk for signature. Notably, a similar bill passed in 2016, but was vetoed by then-governor Terry McAuliffe. 

At the same time as these bills were making their way through the legislature, Youngkin was busy filling his cabinet with pro-parent appointees to his departments of Education. Two of those appointments in particular—Jillian Balow and Elizabeth Schultz as the Superintendent of Public Instruction and Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction, respectively—provide early insight into Youngkin’s plan for education in Virginia.

Both women’s credentials make clear that Youngkin’s promises to restore “excellence” to Virginia schools and root out divisive ideologies like Critical Race Theory are more than just words. Balow’s background includes having had the same job in Wyoming, where she established a track record of combatting CRT and increasing curriculum transparency for parents. For her part, Schultz has direct experience in the education fight in Virginia, having formerly served as a member of the Fairfax school board from 2012 to 2019. Schultz also served at the U.S. Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos during the Trump administration.

Schultz’s commitment to parents’ rights—especially Virginia parents—appeared to be particularly important for Youngkin in selecting her to this post. As a fellow for Parents Defending Education, Schultz wrote extensively about the rise of CRT in Virginia schools, detailing how hundreds of thousands of dollars had been spent on so-called “equity” and “anti-bias” training, two key concepts in the CRT worldview. 

Schultz was also a chief opponent of a proposed new system for admissions at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, widely considered to be one of the top high schools in the country. Instead of basing admissions on merit by using test scores and grades, the school began using a lottery system in October 2020 that implemented what amounted to race quotas for each incoming class. Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly have since announced their plans to challenge the admissions process with new legislation.

One of the other biggest concerns for parents all across the country is transparency, which have been top priority for Balow and Schultz. Too many parents are being shut out of their children’s education. Parents have been removed from school board meetings and widely derided as bigoted by the national media for speaking their minds. Their objections to CRT and sexually explicit reading material have been written off as censorship instead of being treated as legitimate concerns. In accepting their new positions, Balow and Schultz have promised that Virginia parents will gain more insight into what their children are learning in schools.

With appointees like Jillian Balow and Elizabeth Schultz, there’s good reason to have hope for the future of education in Virginia. In his statements on education, Governor Youngkin has emphasized excellence in the essentials—history, math, and science. He has also promised greater cooperation between parents and teachers, pay raises for teachers in addition, and appointing pro-parent personnel to the state’s education department. After the strain of the pandemic, with so many students falling behind, it is clear that Youngkin and his appointees want to get Virginia quickly moving forward on education.

Just as Youngkin’s campaign and election were an early sign of shifting attitudes in the country, his administration’s policies can influence more than just Virginia. Already, more and more states are lifting mandates and opening up. Virginia’s recent election shows the power of common-sense positions that can appeal to all voters, especially when contrasted with increasingly radical positions on the left. If successful, Virginia’s policies could serve as blueprints for dealing with educational issues that are plaguing the entire nation.

Eleanor Vaughn is a writer living in Virginia.


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Michael
3 months ago

Youngkin was able to see that education had lost its way precisely because he is not a professional educator.

David Reinhsrt
4 months ago

As a constitutional Conservative and VA resident I am not happy about the way this was done. The VA constitution requires any legislation tagged as “emergency” legislation to be passed by a four-fifths majority of both houses of our legislature. The reason is obvious, to keep government from pushing through legislation relying in panic mode. The Democrats played fast and loose with this provision over the last two years and now the Republicans are following suit. We either all live by the rule of law, or it’s all corruption and chaos. I support the bill. I do not agree with how it was passed!

Ramona M Radsick
4 months ago

I have made SCHOOL CHOICE as my #1 voting issue! I believe it is the #1 civil rights issue of our time.. A value driven education can move forward all the other issues I believe in: equality not equity, states rights, rights of the unborn, personal responsibility, strict construction of the Constitution, support for all our First Amendment Rights, common sense justice reform and election laws, support for our first responders and military. Governor Youngkin, thank you!

Steven Ford
4 months ago

Finally – A politician who actually CARES about the people he represents.

Michael
4 months ago

Kudos to Gov. Youngkin! Keep up the good work!! #BanCRT #StopCRT #LeftistsDestroyAmerica

Frank Goudy
4 months ago

What would really be good for everyone is seeing EXACTLY is being taught in the schools. Some ‘real sunshine’ so that parents and the taxpayers know. No hidden agendas by ANYONE or GROUP. Any parent or taxpayer should be able to the exact curriculum and that is what is actually being taught with no hidden statements or agendas by any side.

Mario Capparuccini
4 months ago
Reply to  Frank Goudy

Very true. Evil must be covered up by deceit in order to introduce it. Transparency is important.

Steven Tapper
4 months ago

Education in this country has been on the decline for the past 50 + years. We no longer place emphasis on reading, writing, history, civics, math or science. We no longer teach children how to think but rather indoctrinate them to what to think. This preoccupation with teaching elementary school kids about sex and gender has ruined several generations. They are being taught that there is a “wide range of genders”. There are two genders, male and female and a “wide range of mental disorders”. Funny how the Democrats in Virginia have decided to now support Younkin’s opposition to CRT. Perhaps they see the writing on the wall?

Garye
4 months ago

Glad to see another leader keep his word to those who elected him.
President Trump kept EVERY promise he made to the American Citizens. He is the ONLY President in my lifetime who did so.
Look at the disaster joebama and the marxist democrats are, pathetic indeed!!!
I guess that’s what cheating your way in without the intelligence, morals and patriotism looks like.
How VERY sad and destructive for Our Country!
Let’s REMOVE them ALL and start over with something better!

Mimi
4 months ago

Oh, if only in California too!!

Millie
4 months ago

Every governor even conservative governors should look at their Department of Education and make sure our kids are learning the right kind of things, even have high school principals interviewed by the governor and head of Education Department to make sure.

JJ Johnson-Smith
4 months ago

THIS is what can happen when the people elect Conservative Governors. If we vote to eliminate the Democrats and RINOs that now fill the majority of our government offices, our country can begin to heal literally overnight.

Bill T
4 months ago

Still wondering how NJ Governor MURPHY rallied back down by thousands of votes and somehow won in the last few hours?

Philip Hammersley
4 months ago
Reply to  Bill T

Same way that Senile Joe gained hundreds of thousands of votes in 5 key states and “won” the election!

CLS
4 months ago

1 STATE DOWN —-49 TO GO—NOVEMBER HERE WE COME

Chief601
4 months ago

I proudly voted for Winsome Sears and Jason Myares (sp?) for Lt. Gov. and Attorney General. I was skeptical of the candidate for Governor. It appears that I was dead wrong about the Governor and I gladly admit it. Thank you for proving me wrong. Please continue to do so.

✔Ernie
4 months ago
Reply to  Chief601

You were not wrong to distrust Youngkin. He dashed in out of nowhere late in the primary game and bought his way into office. He is Deep State, was in Davos with Klaus Schwab finishing up the “Great Reset, and is a member of the Globalist (Bilderberg) group, the Council on Foreign Relations.

Philip Hammersley
4 months ago
Reply to  ✔Ernie

Evidence?

Debbie Mock
4 months ago

So happy for Virginia parents and kids! Just remember to check those library books. Along with CRT came sexually explicit books. What is wrong with these people?

Drue
4 months ago

AT LAST! Virginia has a Governor that represents the good, conservative people of Virginia. God bless you, Governor Younkin.

Stephen Russell
4 months ago

Hooray Guv, awesome job

Bill Ahlman
4 months ago

Hooray! We finally have a Virginia Governor who KEEPS HIS PROMISES AND HEARS US!

Mike Tracy
4 months ago

Nice for a change to see a politician actually keep his promises.

Jeb
4 months ago

Real Republicans fulfill their promises, RINOS its a gamble, democrats are simply pandering liars.

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