Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin has said he has a “big agenda” to restore the excellence of Virginia schools, including an “aggressive charter school program.”
“Virginia has had a very, very poor record in charter schools in providing any choice within our public school system. So we’re going to launch right out of the box 20 charter schools that are going to provide parents choice within the public school system,” Youngkin told FoxBusiness on Nov. 4.
During his campaign, Youngkin viewed education as the top issue in Virginia.
“Parents are absolutely angry about what’s happening in the public school systems,” he said. “Our curriculum is going to be absolutely focused on making sure we’re getting the political rhetoric out of the classroom and really focused on how to prepare our kids how to think as opposed to what to think—so much of this is engaging with parents.”
Youngkin promised to ban critical race theory in Virginia schools during his campaign. Virginia parents made national headlines when they voiced their concerns at school board meetings, especially against the teaching of the quasi-Marxist critical race theory.
“We’re going to launch a task force in December. I will have named a new secretary of education and a new state superintendent of our schools by then, and we’re going to begin to engage with parents. We’re going to engage with educators, administrators, and students,” Youngkin said.
In his victory speech on Nov. 3, Youngkin promised that Virginia would “embrace” parents, not ignore them.
“It starts first with the leadership that we’re going to appoint, and then it really moves on to engaging at the grassroots level with teachers and school administrators and parents,” Youngkin said. “I’ve been very clear parents are going to be engaged in their schools. And we’re going to make sure that we have a really, really effective communication loop with parents so that we can take input. There’s just a new way of thinking about engaging with parents that we’re going to press forward with.”
Virginia will also raise expectations in Virginia schools, and children should be held to high standards; fund the largest education budget in the state’s history; raise teacher salaries; fund facilities; and fund special education programs that “heavily suffered” during the pandemic, he told FoxBusiness.
“So we’ve got a big agenda. We’ve got to get started,” Youngkin said, referring to the official date in which his tenure starts. “Jan. 15 can’t come fast enough.”
In a state where President Joe Biden won by a comfortable 10 points in 2020, Youngkin’s victory has been widely deemed a big blow to Democrats and a strong message of no to the policies being pushed by Democrats.
“What this election really demonstrated is that education is not a political issue. It is a fundamental concern of parents from all parts of the political spectrum. We brought together Democrats, Republicans, and independents—folks from all walks of life around this fundamental desire for their children to have a great education,” Youngkin said. “We took back our house of delegates, and that was a big statement.”
Republicans flipped seven seats in the election and regained a narrow 51–49 majority in the Virginia House of Delegates.
“I think this just reflects the fact that the kitchen table issues of low taxes and great schools and safe communities, and by the way, a growing economy with job opportunities—these kitchen table issues had been pushed to the background—and voters in Virginia said no, no, no, these are the most important topics for us,” Youngkin said. “And that’s why as we laid out our agenda, we focused on those things that are most important to get done.”