Unlike so much “mainstream media” political reporting, which is overwhelmingly of the “both sides-ist,” false equivalence, stenographic and whitewashing school of “journalism” (in air quotes), this article From Inside Higher Ed really nails it on what Glenn Youngkin’s up to when it comes to education policy – and how Youngkin is pretty much in the same camp as Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, etc. See below for an excerpt, with bolding added for emphasis.
“Though much of Youngkin’s focus has been at the K-12 level, he has also appointed conservative trustees at Virginia Military Institute and the University of Virginia—à la DeSantis—and inserted himself into the search process for the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System.
Youngkin has similarly gone after transgender students, announcing policies that would allow them to access only those school facilities and programs that match the sex they were assigned at birth. However, the Virginia General Assembly has pushed back on bills targeting trans students.
Though Youngkin has presented himself as the kinder, gentler alternative to Trump, he’s still sending signals to conservative voters that he’s taking on the broader culture war issues that energize many, explained Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
Sabato suggests that all three potential candidates are looking for a lane—and playing bumper cars at times—while using education policy to reassure conservatives worried about losing ground in the culture war. Though higher education has never been a top issue in presidential elections, it allows politicians to make moral appeals and signal their vision for the future.
“You’re not going to run a presidential campaign on policy issues that matter, like how much does higher ed cost and can we do anything about the cost?” Sabato said. “Can we reduce the debt that students have? Since they don’t like Biden’s [student loan forgiveness] plan, what is it they’re going to do? That doesn’t sell, or it doesn’t sell to very many people. But you start talking about cultural issues—‘they’re destroying our culture, they don’t believe in God,’ blah, blah, blah—and pretty soon you’ve got a lot of people showing up at your rallies, screaming bloody murder.”
Press officers for Abbott and Youngkin did not respond to interview requests from Inside Higher Ed. A press secretary for DeSantis declined to make the governor available for an interview.”
In short, don’t let Youngkin’s sweater-vest and “basketball dad” routine fool you; the guy’s very hard right, and really no better than DeSantis, Abbott or Trump. Also, gotta love that last paragraph about how none of these right-wing “culture warriors” would respond to “Inside Higher Ed” to discuss their policies. Of course, this is what Youngkin did in the 2021 campaign, mostly speaking with far-right media and only reluctantly agreeing to interviews, let alone anything in depth, with anything more “mainstream.”
By the way, for more background on Youngkin’s war on public education, on transgender kids, on the teaching of African-American history, etc, see:
- Adele McClure: Gov. Youngkin “knows EXACTLY what he’s doing during #BlackHistory Month…Whitewashing & revising history is a deliberate tactic” (Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney: “Black History Month isn’t even over and @GlennYoungkin is following in the footsteps of DeSantis with his ‘Don’t Say Black Law”)
- Virginia NAACP Opposes Youngkin Administration’s History Curriculum Revisions, Calls Them “attempt to rewrite history to a narrower, whitewashed perspective” (“…the new proposed standards are replete with inaccuracies and material omissions.”)
- Equality Virginia Condemns Transphobic, Forced Outing Remarks by Governor Youngkin (“It’s time that Governor Youngkin stops using trans students’ lives to gain political points at the expense of their safety and well-being.”)
- ACLU of Virginia Explains, in Detail, Why It Opposes Youngkin’s Proposed “Model Policies” on the (Mis)Treatment of Transgender and Non-Binary Students (Policies “are contrary to state law” and would “result in rampant violations of the rights of students, parents, and school personnel and…inflict serious harm on transgender and nonbinary students”)
- Republicans Try, Once Again, to Privatize Public Education in Virginia
- Gov. Ralph Northam’s Secretary of Education, Atif Qarni, Says Newly Revised Youngkin Administration History Education Standards Get a “D” Grade, Remain Heavily “Whitewashed”
- Former Secretary of Education Atif Qarni Comments on the Rejection of Youngkin’s Board of Education Appointee, Wonders “are the Republicans in this case anti-merit and pro-equity?”
- Gov. Northam’s Secretary of Education, Atif Qarni, Rips Gov. Youngkin for “Lying,” “Spreading Misinformation,” “Beating Up on Public Education”