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Video: Democratic Delegates Respond to “Fact-Free” Comments by Right-Wing Delegate About VA Public Schools

In fact, Virginia schools are among the best in the nation, and actually "there's a lot of choice baked in."


This morning, on the scheduled final day of the 2022 Virginia General Assembly’s regular session (going into overtime, apparently), one of the chamber’s most right-wing members (Del. Nick Freitas) gave a speech about Virginia’s public schools that elicited some strong responses from Democratic delegates. You can watch the Freitas speech later at this link, but I’m not going to give it any credibility or attention, other than the responses by Democratic Delegates Dan Helmer, Mark Sickles and Schuyler VanValkenburg that you can see below. In sum:

  • Del. Dan Helmer tweeted, “Can’t believe I’m listening to a GOP speech on the floor on why we should defund our schools.”
  • As @vaplan2018 tweeted: Del. Mark Sickles responded to Del. Nick Freitas’ “‘campaign speech’ about defunding public schools,” relating how he “talks to parents constantly about their schools & they always tell him great things…& how much parental involvement there is, ‘there’s a committee for everything!'” Del. Sickles also noted that there “options galore,” and that “people confuse not listening to people with disagreeing with you; you know, we can listen to everybody  and say, well, I heard you, but we don’t agree with that, and then they’ll go out and say they didn’t listen to me.”
  • Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg – himself a teacher – said that a lot of what Del. Freitas had to say “was pretty ironic and kind of fact-free.” In fact, as Del. VanValkenburg explained, although Del. Freitas claimed “kids don’t have choice,” in fact “when you look at Virginia’s education system, there’s a lot of choice baked in…a kid can choose to apply to a governor’s school…we have magnet schools…we have innovation schools…and we also currently have CTE schools…and last, we currently under law have the possibility for labs and charter schools.” Del. VanValkenburg also slammed Gov. Youngkin’s infamous “tip line,” as well as a “report that school boards weren’t consulted on at all,” and “attacks on what’s taught in classrooms.” Finally, Del. VanValkenburg went after Del. Freitas’ characterization of schools as being about “customers.” As Del. VanValkenburg explained, “school is NOT just an economic exchange; schools are about building communities, schools are about fostering growth…about making people better people.”



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