Glenn Youngkin is the Republican nominee for the Virginia governor’s race. He is running against Terry McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia. With election day approaching, both candidates and their supporters are preparing for the big day and seeking to swing more voters.
At the end of June, Youngkin announced a new coalition called “Educators for Youngkin”. One of his main platform goals is to reform Virginia’s education system. The coalition is for teachers, parents and community members across Virginia who support Youngkin for governor.
The group wants to see Youngkin bring change in the Virginia public school system. “This coalition will bring together every Virginian who understands the importance of challenging, inspiring, and providing an equal opportunity to every student to chase their dream,” according to the Coalition. “Youngkin will work hard to stop the downward spiral of K-12 public education in Virginia and get the political agendas out of the classroom so that students are taught how to think instead of what to think. Youngkin will also advocate for better access and more choice, because parents deserve to have the power to choose where their child goes to school – a student’s future should never be dictated by their zip code.”
The new group held a Zoom meeting July 28 for a conversation about the return to academics and advancing Virginia’s schools, which was open to the public to join virtually. The first-ever webinar was led by Educators for Youngkin leader, Suparna Dutta, who is a mother of FCPS students and is vocal in the community about her opposition to Critical Race Theory being taught in schools.
“I’m a Fairfax County resident and a mom of children at Fairfax County Public Schools. I feel let down by the Fairfax County Public Schools,” Dutta said. “Academic excellence has taken a back seat to controversial topics and that has made many parents like me accidental activists in order to stand up for my children’s rights.”
The meeting was co-led by Cheryl Bufurd, who has lived in Fairfax County for 21 years, had children go through the FCPS system and was a former teacher. The meeting had several panelists, including Dr. Harry Jackson, one of the founding members of the Coalition for TJ and an education advocate, Elizabeth Schultz who served on the FCPS school board and is an education and public policy expert, Julie Perry who is a FCPS high school history teacher and is running for the VA House of Delegates 86 th District, and Tian Olson a mother of two FCPS students and a licensed attorney who has lived around the country and world.
The hour-long webinar also made clear that the group was not speaking for the Youngkin campaign, but rather are a group of Youngkin supporters sharing their opinions and why they support the Republican nominee. “We’re not speaking on behalf of the Youngkin campaign. The status quo is unacceptable and from Glenn’s public statements and our conversations with him we are confident that he shares our concerns and will bring about positive changes,” the coalition posted on Facebook.
The meeting answered many questions from voters who were curious about how he would address their concerns about what needs to be done to improve Virginia school systems. Questions from viewers varied from asking Perry “How prepared are students who enter your high school classroom for high school level work? Would electing Glenn Youngkin make a difference in better preparing students at the elementary and middle school level?” to asking Olson who has moved her children around the country “Can you share with us the differences you have noticed returning to the Commonwealth? And are you satisfied with the level of challenge in your children’s curriculum?”
The third round of questions featured the topic of Critical Race Theory being taught in schools. One voter wrote in: “What is Critical Race Theory? And as a parent, what are you observing in regards to the inclusion of Critical Race Theory in your students assignments and classroom discussion?”
“Critical Race Theory from an academic concept deals with institutions and laws that were meant to perpetuate racism and white hegemony,” responded Jackson. “You have some scholars who have manipulated this theory,” he said. “They are basically telling our children that white people are oppressors, and if you are a person of color, you are oppressed, and the system is against you.”
The Zoom meeting revealed that many parents are concerned with how the Virginia school system is currently being run, and that Youngkin was the solution to this issue. Youngkin opposes teaching Critical Race Theory in Virginia’s schools.
Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe’s plans for reforming Virginia education include a $2 billion annual investment to raise teacher pay above the national average, getting every student online access, expanding pre-k, addressing the teacher shortage and eliminating racial disparities in education. When McAuliffe previously held office as the Virginia governor, he invested $1 billion into the school system to better prepare students for school and life after.
The webinar ended with the group saying that they hope to hold more meetings in the future to further discuss the topics of education, and that many questions could not be addressed due to the large number they received. The webinar is now uploaded to the Educators for Youngkin Facebook page, where the video has garnered hundreds of views.
To watch the Educators for Youngkin webinar visit https://bit.ly/3ipUqXj.