Virginia’s governor’s race with Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R) is close. So get out and vote on November 2, 2021. If Americans are going to save public schools, it will be more likely to happen by voting for the Democratic gubernatorial candidates and school board members.
It isn’t always easy to be on board with Democrats regarding public education because they, too, have anti-public school/teacher plans, sometimes more subtle. Still, in places like Virginia, former Governor McAuliffe has made some decent choices regarding public schools in the past.
His opponent Glenn Youngkin is all about school choice, a huge concern.
Youngkin, who supported Donald Trump, a President who did absolutely nothing positive for public schools or the children who attended them, is now having his star hitched to President George W. Bush and NCLB.
Hugh Hewitt of the Washington Post likened Youngkin to them both. Astonishingly, they’re elevating President Bush as an education authority despite the failures of No Child Left Behind.
For the record, the Obama administration’s Race to the Top failed students, too, and also supported the controversial Common Core State Standards.
Educators and savvy parents realized early on that Bush’s plan, and Race to the Top, were about privatizing public education by defunding schools and demoralizing teachers.
However, the problem with not electing Terry McAuliffe is Glenn Youngkin’s school choice agenda. If Youngkin becomes governor or other Republican gubernatorial candidates win, public schools will not be well-funded and this will eventually lead to their demise.
In 2017, McAuliffe vetoed a bill that would have increased charter schools. Virginia has fewer charter schools than most states. At that time, sponsors of this Bill claimed that charter schools would offer a lifeline to students stuck in schools failing to meet state benchmarks, but charters have never been shown to do better than public schools, even though they are known to often be selective.
For the most part, parents seem proud of their public schools in Virginia, even though there have been recent clashes over cultural changes and the pandemic, and McAuliffe has gotten caught up in that.
In the heat of Virginia’s gubernatorial campaign, Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe insisted, “[CRT] is not taught in Virginia, it’s never been taught in Virginia. And as I’ve said this a lot: It’s a dogwhistle. It’s racial, it’s division, and it’s used by Glenn Youngkin … to divide people.” American Federation of Teachers chief Randi Weingarten thundered, “Let’s be clear: Critical race theory is not taught in elementary schools or high schools. It’s a method of examination taught in law school and college that helps analyze whether systemic racism exists.”
Such responses are emphatic. They’re also untrue. Indeed, internal documents show that, during McAuliffe’s previous tenure as governor, a Virginia Department of Education training program encouraged state public schools to “embrace critical race theory” and “engage in race-conscious teaching and learning” in order to advance “Culturally-Responsive Teaching and Learning Principles.”
Whether you agree or not, conversations, no matter the differences, help us face societal change, changes that make public education more democratic and inclusive.
McAuliffe has also been criticized for stating during a debate that parents should not tell schools what to teach, referencing concerns surrounding book bans. The conservative National Review called it Terry McAuliffe’s War on Parents.
Are there discussions to be had about books and age appropriateness? Of course. It’s best done at the school level and by communication with the parent and teacher. But book banning is a grave concern.
Losing America’s democratic public schools will have devastating results for our country and future generations. America’s children will be allowed to stagnate, never be challenged, never learn to be open to fellow Americans.
There’s also a real possibility that students will not be prepared to attend college or career and technical school and will not tackle the many problems facing our world today.
Privatizing public schools will be a tragedy of massive proportions in Virginia and other states facing the same challenges.
With McAuliffe, Virginians will not likely see the end of their public schools. There may still be rigorous school board meetings and critical debates about various cultural issues facing our children in society, but public schools will remain open with Democrats.
We can always debate the serious issues surrounding schools, but first, Virginians, and Americans, must support their public schools and the school board members that are still open to hearing the public points of view. If Republicans become governors and take over school boards, I’m afraid that will not happen.
Balingit, M. (2017, March 24). Va. governor vetoes charter school and ‘Beloved’ bills. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2017/03/24/va-governor-vetoes-charter-school-and-beloved-bills/.
Hewitt, H. (2021, October 18). Opinion: How Glenn Youngkin could become the education governor we need. Washigton Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/18/glenn-youngkin-education-governor-virginia-needs/