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.
Frederick M. Hess in The Dispatch wrote:
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/
Mom and Teacher says
I am not sure I agree with your position. As a parent and an educator, I am so troubled that Democrats across the country are looking to paint parents as domestic terrorists for wanting to have a say in our child’s education.
We all know strong and engaged families are the cornerstone of a communities success; marginalizing parents as radicals is not one of the Democrats finest moments. If I have to choose between school choice and no say in my child’s education, I choose choice at this point.
Nancy Bailey says
I appreciate your comment, and it is partly why I wrote this post. I agree with you to a point. I’ve repeatedly written about the important teacher/parent connection. We need respect on all sides and a willingness to sit down and work together.
But we’ve seen much hostility and aggressive parents at school board meetings, some threatening. The pandemic has fostered this hostility, and societal changes involving race and gender identity can’t be hidden at the school level.
I also believe there’s an anti-teacher movement at a time when teachers need the support of parents more than ever.
Private schools face these issues also, and destroying a public school system without the difficult struggle to work on these issues and come together will only further divide us as a nation.
Roy Turrentine says
The assertion in the above editorial that CRT is taught in Virginia schools is silly on the face of it, and the editorial quotes material that only suggests that teachers should take the ideas seriously. Of course no one teaches CRT. It is far too academically advanced for any high school student to understand. But the idea that there are effects of racism around that affect the way the students learn is unquestionable, and trying to make another argument is silly.
The Virginia governor’s race and its national prominence suggests that the forces opposing democracy are now turning their attention to the common school, funded by deep pockets and fueled by actual modern-day xenophobia. My apologies to any parent who thinks they can bring a great knowledge of history to the conversation about what should be taught, but only historians should be at this table. Most parents need to leave the subject matter to the people who know the history.
As one of those historians, I can assure the parents that I will present a balanced account of the past. But if that balanced account makes you uncomfortable, that is not my fault.
Nancy Bailey says
As always, thank you, Roy.
I think CRT has become a description of a variety of actions teachers are taking to address race and gender equality in the classroom. It needs to be clarified, and teachers and parents need to work together.
History is a part of that which I agree should be left to the historians and experts like yourself, Roy, to get it right. It was shameful that many in this nation including myself were ignorant about Black Wall Street.
I think too that while history can and should make us uncomfortable and lead to positive change, CRT related philosophies raise questions surrounding issues like colorblindness, and separating children according to race, etc. These are significant departures from what many of us learned in the past to be understanding of marginalized groups. We need to sit at the table and discuss this so we can be more open to better changes in society and our public schools.
Big surprise. Endorsement of a democrat. A democrat is more likely to continue to ruin public education. There’s a reason everyone wants school choice. Do you hate those pesky parents too? The vast majority of teachers were great when I grew up. Now the vast majority could care less about the kids and want nothing to do with parents.
Nancy Bailey says
The vast majority? I am always troubled by generalizations. It’s hard to tell what specifically angers you about teachers and public schools today, Rich.
The teachers I know care deeply about their students and want to work with parents, but have been pulled in many directions. The pandemic has been difficult on all involved.
If you read my posts, you will understand that my concern is how corporate reforms are driving a wedge between parents and teachers with the intentional desire to end public ed and replace teachers with computers.
I repeatedly include the importance of parental feedback in what I write. I almost always have parents and teachers working together. I believe they’re the most critical team in a child’s life.
As a teacher, I worked closely with parents whose children had disabilities, and I wanted to help them help their children learn how to succeed in life.
I never hold back on my disapproval of how and when Democrats negatively influence public education. Even in this post, I criticize the Obama administration’s handling of schooling with Race to the Top.
But school choice is not the answer. It is the private school that does the choosing.
If parents want a good school, they will likely pay more for it. Most parents will get substandard charter schools that have never done better than public schools.
Also, for the record, many private schools are struggling with the same cultural issues.
About ninety percent of America’s children attend public schools. We need to get it right.
I ask that if you can, offer to help a teacher in your public school, ask them how they are and reach out in some small way to support them.
Teachers like parents are really tired right now. They are human too, and apt to make mistakes when they’re under so much pressure.
I’m sorry for whatever specifically is bugging you now, but thanks for sharing your opinion, and I hope you take me up on my suggestion.