The other day, speaking at an anti-“Critical Race Theory” rally in Loudoun County (video below), 2021 VA GOP gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin laid out his education “plan” – in air quotes because it’s basically just a bunch of b.s. and “red meat” for his “base.” See below for reporter Brandon Jarvis’ excellent summary of the “plan,” which is as follows (my comments in blue/bold following each item in the “plan”):
- “On day one he will sign an executive order returning schools to ‘pre-McAuliffe standards.'” (Does anyone have any idea what this means, specifically, other than an excuse to take a shot at his Democratic opponent for governor? For starters, obviously, there’s no such thing as “pre-McAuliffe standards.” Also note that education policy during the McAuliffe administration wasn’t some radical departure from the past, given that Republicans controlled the General Assembly during McAuliffe’s entire four-year term. So…yeah, no clue what Youngkin’s blabbering about here.)
- “He says he will direct the VDOE to protect advanced math classes and advanced diplomas.” (None of those things are in any danger, ergo don’t need Youngkin to “protect” them, but alrighty…)
- “Youngkin says schools will refocus on reading, writing, and math if he is elected governor.” (Schools in Virginia already teach the “three Rs,” as well as a bunch of other stuff – science, technology, history, art, music, etc. Is Youngkin saying he doesn’t want to teach as much science, technology, history, art, music, etc? Again, what on earth is he blabbering about?)
- “Youngkin says he will appoint a new Sec of Education, a new school superintendent, and appoint new members to the state board of education.” (Yeah, no sh** Sherlock – that’s what every new governor does. It’s kinda like Youngkin’s moronic line, “are you ready for a new governor?” Which, obviously, is going to happen, given that Ralph Northam is term limited and there’s a 100% chance Virginia will have a new governor in January 2022. Duhhh…)
- “Youngkin says that on day one he will issue an order banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory in the Virginia public schools.” (Given that “Critical Race Theory” isn’t being taught in Virginia public schools, this is just “red meat” for his right-wing base. Other than that, what’s he saying? He doesn’t want schools to teach about the history of race – slavery, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movement, etc? Sure sounds like that’s what Youngkin’s saying…)
- “He says he would also expand the number of year-round governors schools and will not let the admissions standards be lowered for Thomas Jefferson Governor School.” (When he says he “will not let the admissions standards be lowered,” Youngkin is clearly referring to recent increases in the percentages of African-American and Latino students admitted to “TJ,” which apparently Youngkin is not a fan of…)
All of which brings us to the new WaPo article, which the McAuliffe campaign sent around this afternoon. According to that article:
- McAuliffe has “a detailed plan…to invest a record $2 billion a year to raise teacher pay above the national average, get every student online, expand preschool to 3- and 4-year-olds in need and eliminate racial disparities in education. He has broadened his pitch since then, churning out position papers on 14 other issues, although his schools plan still gets top billing on his campaign website.”
- That’s in stark, stark contrast to Youngkin, who has ZERO issues on his website, and certainly no detailed plans for education or anything else. As the WaPo writes, “Glenn Youngkin (R), while far lighter on details, has leaned heavily into cultural issues consuming some school boards, especially in vote-rich Northern Virginia. He has vowed to ban critical race theory, an intellectual movement that examines the way policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism; opposed certain transgender rights policies; and accused the state — falsely, education officials say — of planning to eliminate accelerated math, the Pledge of Allegiance and Independence Day from school curriculums.” That pretty much nails it about Youngkin’s laughable education “plan” – VERY light on details, leans HEAVILY into “cultural issues,” accuses the state *FALSELY* of a bunch of things (these lies have been debunked repeatedly, yet Youngkin and other Republicans keep lying…).
- “As a former governor, McAuliffe has a background on education that he can point to, such as a record $1 billion investment in K-12 schools, as well as plans for a second term. His schools policy — laid out in a six-page document studded with footnotes to meaty educational research — ranges from lofty promises to address “modern-day segregation in schools” to in-the-weeds plans to train and retain more teachers.” Again, McAuliffe has a very detailed and realistic plan for improving Virginia education, while Youngkin has falsehoods and “red meat” for the Trump-loving Republican “base.”
- As for “Critical Race Theory,” the WaPo article quotes Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics that Virginia Republicans’ attacks on it are just “a different version of the same argument that cultural conservatives have made for years, that higher education . . . [is ] too liberal, they’re indoctrinating students with left-wing ideas, they’re too critical of the history of the country” and that “Youngkin has seen an opening in all of that,” as well as “oppos[ing] transgender girls’ participation in girls’ sports.” Yuck.
In sum, the contrast on education policy between Terry McAuliffe – detailed, realistic, focused on things that would actually improve education – and Glenn Youngkin – vague, unrealistic, focused on cynical/political “red meat” and NOT on things that would actually help Virginia K-12 students better equipped for the 21st century economy. The choice here really couldn’t be any clearer than it is: McAuliffe will build on the progress that’s been made, Youngkin will tear it apart and move Virginia education backwards. Easy choice.