The following statement is from Prince William County School Board Chair Dr. Babur Lateef, who was one of the possible Democratic candidates for Lt. Governor in 2021, but has now decided not to run. See below for Dr. Lateef’s thinking.
Chairman Babur Lateef’s statement on his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor
As many of you know, I have been considering a run for Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor next year.
As I was considering this I stated that my first two priorities were to safely reopen Prince William County Schools and elect Joe Biden as our next president.
Fortunately Joe Biden was elected president but unfortunately we have not been able to open schools to in-person learning as soon as I had hoped.
I believe one of the greatest challenges our country faces is the safe reopening of our schools. Because our children represent the future of America, ensuring high quality, equitable education should be the highest priority of all public servants.
To safely reopen schools we must get a better handle on the pandemic. For this to happen each of us has to better follow best practices to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.
While virtual learning is a good placeholder for in-person learning, it is not the gold standard. Virtual learning continues to be a challenge for our students including my own children and many of my patients. My children, all in public schools, are in 12th, 10th, 8th grade, and 4th grades. Virtual learning, even with the best effort, is not the quality of education they have received in the past. This not to say that our educators have not done everything they possibly can to meet their needs.
This has made life much harder on our family and families across the country, especially for those with limited means. While managing our own work life through the pandemic, monitoring and managing virtual education for our children has become an enormous challenge.
Over the last two years we have enjoyed considerable success on the Prince William County School Board. We have given teachers the largest raises they have seen in years, passed an aggressive sustainability and energy initiative, added new programs and access to opportunities for our students, and have made Prince William County Schools the best school system to work for in Virginia as rated by Forbes magazine.
The pandemic has halted much of our progress and has forced us to address things we never imagined. Throughout the pandemic we have made significant advances in our technology capabilities for our students and faculty and I do believe there is some innovation in learning that is happening, but we have considerable work ahead as we continue to try to reopen our schools.
With that in mind I have decided not to seek the office of Lieutenant Governor next year. I am proud of the progress Governors Northam and McAuliffe have brought to the commonwealth. I remain committed to working towards further progress and supporting candidates with a vision for success for all Virginians.
My work as Chairman of the Prince William County School Board, the 35th largest school division in the United States, will be the focus of my daily activities. Getting our schools reopened safely and continuing to deliver a high-quality education will be my highest priority. I will continue to work with state, local, and federal leaders to ensure we have the resources needed to succeed.
It continues to be my great honor to serve the students and the people of Prince William County as Chairman At-Large of the School Board. I will continue work every single day for all of our residents.
Babur Lateef, MD
Prince William County School Board