Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is expected to sign legislation Wednesday afternoon to block school boards from imposing mask mandates and require schools to offer in-person instruction five days per week.

Ahead Of Youngkin’s Inauguration, Virginia Parents Are Skeptical He Will Follow Through On His Campaign Promises

Kendall Tietz

Education became the main issue in Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s campaign, but now parents want to make sure he lives up to his campaign promises ahead of his Jan. 15 inauguration.

Youngkin won with the help of parents who were fed up with the current administration and the state’s policies, and made it clear they wanted to see change in Virginia’s education system.

“I think between Loudoun County and the other parents around the state learning and realizing that this radical ideology and the psychological manipulative curriculum was in their kid’s school really helped to propel Youngkin to become the nominee and became the central theme, rightfully so, of his campaign,” Scott Mineo a Virginia parent and founder of Parents Against Critical Race Theory (PACT), a coalition of parents fighting Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the state, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Younkin promised to ban concepts like CRT and to put parents first. His opponent, Terry McAuliffe, slipped out of favor when he claimed CRT was a “racist dog whistle” and made the assertion that he doesn’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.

CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.

Youngkin has been criticized for his Dec. 20 nomination of Aimee Rogstad Guidera to the role of Education Secretary, who Mineo referred to as “a woke social justice warrior.”

“Guidera is currently the President of Guidera Strategy, and is the former founder and chief executive of the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), a leading national organization advocating for improved quality, accessibility and use of education data to increase student achievement,” Youngkin said in a press release announcing her nomination.

DQC supports collection of students’ data and has ties to the Bill and Melina Gates Foundation, the Daily Caller previously reported.

She will stand “for a curriculum that prepares Virginia’s children for a dynamic future and removes politics from the classroom,” Youngkin’s press release said. “A nationally recognized leader, Aimee is deeply respected for her distinguished career advocating for innovation and choice, data-driven reform, and high standards, and will apply these principles in order to implement the Day One Game Plan.”

DQC anonymously surveys student data at the state level by employing student ID numbers to publish reports and influence education policy, according to the company’s 2006 10-step plan. Although the organization’s push for “equitable education outcomes” largely appears to have begun after Guidera left in 2018.

“Data can and should be used to ensure that every person has equitable access to opportunities that can help them be successful throughout their education and into careers,” DQC’s website says.

The organization also encourages federal data gathering through the Civil Rights Data Collection survey, which is distributed to school districts to “lay the groundwork for a more equitable and effective educational system.”

Beyond Critical Race Theory

Mineo said Youngkin ran on the promise to ban CRT on his first day in office, but the problems with a race-based education extend beyond CRT, he said.

“If you don’t ban the tenets of CRT, then your statement to ban CRT is irrelevant.”

He said he would like to see Youngkin provide more substance for how exactly he is going to get rid of CRT and its tenets, like Social Emotional Learning (SEL) or Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

“He doesn’t have to go into his deep secrets about what his administration is going to do, but he certainly can provide some high-level content on yes, we’re going to ban social-emotional learning, yes, we’re going to take a look at and ban diversity, equity inclusion,” Mineo said. “Those are the primary tenets of CRT that carry forward the racially-based education and political ideology as well as psychologically manipulative curriculum, but he doesn’t say that and so there’s no meat on the bone.”

“When people say well we have to give him a chance, we’ll give them until  January 15, let him take office, really?” he added. “That’s what got us into this situation to begin with,  complacency … you should be proactive on calling him out, not reactive.”

Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter reiterated the governor-elect’s commitment to enacting change in Virginia’s education system.

Governor-elect Youngkin won a historic campaign by rallying parents, teachers, and students behind a desire for meaningful change in our schools,” Porter said in a statement to the DCNF. “He is committed to restoring academic excellence, giving parents a voice, and removing critical race theory from our classrooms. Once in office, Governor-elect Youngkin will deliver on his Day One agenda.”

Social Emotional Learning As A Tenet Of CRT

Tiffany Polifko, PACT’s VP of Education and Outreach, echoed Mineo’s stance that Youngkin must ban the tenets of CRT because they “have made their way into every single class that every child attends,” including “social emotional learning” which “is a vehicle for teaching critical race theory.” She said PACT, as an organization, was surprised by Youngkin’s education secretary pick.

DQC has invested in developing SEL data to survey students on non-academic matters, she said.

SEL looks great on the surface by promoting decision making skills, kindness, and compassion, but “critical race theory is social emotional learning, because they use it as a vehicle for teaching critical race theory,” Polifko said.

“I think all of us have a concern about whether or not Aimee Guidera still condones social emotional learning and these programs that are running rampant throughout this entire country and school districts all over,” she said.

She questioned why Youngkin would pick Guidera knowing her ties to SEL.

“I can’t quite figure out is it ignorance or is there something else at play?” she said. “As a parent, I’m shaking my head right now … Maybe I should give it some time and see what is going to end up happening, but my radar is up and I just think it’s really important that parents don’t go to sleep.”

Polifko said Virginia parents can’t get complacent because they elected a Republican governor to office and assume that he will rid of CRT, “because that simply will not happen.”

“We’ve got to stay on them and we’ve got to require them to live up to their expectations and hold their feet to the fire,” Polifko said. “I firmly believe that it was parents who helped to swing the state over to red. So what he needs to do is live up to his words of saying ‘parents matter.’”

Public Distrust In Politicians

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Mother, Stacy Langton, said she thinks parents got Youngkin elected, which shows the power that they have. She argued parents need to give him a chance because “the act of holding elected officials to account is also part of parents power.”

But she did admit that his choice in education secretary was a “weird choice” considering one of the most prominent things parents are up in arms about is student data collection.

“That’s not really an educator … somebody who’s collecting data?” she said. “It just seems on its face from these facts about her that they’re reporting, it seems like an odd choice.”

Parents need to be patient “because he hasn’t even been inaugurated yet,” she said. Once he takes office “if parents need to hold his feet to the fire, then we can do that. But I wouldn’t want to prejudge it and jump the gun.”

She attributed the skepticism to the current political environment, which has sewn an increased level of distrust in the government and makes people “much more suspicious than they would have ever been in another year.”

“At the same time, it’s gonna hold him, Youngkin, to a much harder standard than maybe other Governor-elects would have been in prior years … if he makes a mistake, the backlash is going to be swift,” she added. “I can tell that’s true because of the reaction time right now.”

Another parent, Thyra Cox is less optimistic, she called him a “trojan horse” who “played us all,” echoing Langton’s point that people don’t she doesn’t trust politicians.

“I’m not going to give them him the benefit of a doubt,” she said. “Look what he did.”

Elicia Brand got involved in education advocacy during the summer of 2020, not because of a particular party, but because it became apparent to her what happening in her kids’ school. She saw American values “slowly being chipped away,” which a lot of parents realized, she said.

“He’ll be held accountable to the promises that he made for us,” she said. “It was the issues that put him in the governor-elect seat and it was the parents that actually got him there.”

She believes some people are complacent now because they have elected a governor who has promised them what they wanted, but she said the fight isn’t over. 

“Parents like me can pay for alternative schooling, as many tutors as we need, we can help them to have social lives and not suffer as much from the isolation and the alienation from the their other peers, we can help them,” she said. “These kids in marginalized communities where they have parents who have to work sometimes two or three jobs and they’re out of the house all the time” don’t have the same opportunities.

She also does not want her children to see the world through the lends of race or “carry the guilt of people who happen to have the same color skin as they did 400 years ago,” which she sees as divisive.

While she does think Youngkin and his administration will “raise the bar” on educational standards in subjects like math, science and English, she questioned his promise to get rid of CRT in Virginia’s schools.

“You can’t just say I’m getting rid of CRT,  because that’s critical race theory and as a theory, it is not a subject in school that is taught,” she said. “It is a practice by which its tenets are infused into our schools, in every class in every lesson, every single day.”

“It’s looking at life through the lens of one race and one race only,” she said. “That falls under the tenets of CRT and it’s delivered through social-emotional learning.”

He promised to get rid of CRT, but she is “not confident he really understands how critical race theory is in practice in our schools and he’s not answering those questions.”

She wants to see him ban tenets of CRT and other areas of parents’ education concerns, such as SEL, race essentialism, anti-Americanism, sexually explicit books, COVID-19 vaccine mandates and the collection of students’ personal data, which asks for psychographic information such as gender and sexuality, drug usage and how much money their families make, she said.

Brand also wants to see a return to meritocracy and more respect for parental rights that are defined through legislation that every school administrator must adhere to.

“I think she’s [Guidera] the wrong choice for the parents that put Glenn Youngkin in his seat,” she concluded “I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he sees something in her so valuable that he’s willing to control the part of her that is the opposite of everything he promised parents.”

She said she wants to see Youngkin “put his thumb on her and not allow her to … turn our kids into social justice warriors (and) promote social-emotional learning, because she is hands down, progressive woke. ”

“No amount of word salad or double talk is going to fool us (parents),” she said. “If he thought the war was loud last time, it’s going to be so much louder this time if he does not honor his campaign promises.”

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