Politics

Youngkin Changing Virginia With Conservative Ideas

Education reforms are a priority.

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Glenn Youngkin is keeping his promises on education. Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett makes the case that Youngkin’s first days in office are harbingers of even better days to come.

Bennett: After taking the oath of office last week, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin made good on his campaign promise by issuing an executive order banning critical race theory in the state’s schools. The governor’s various orders have drawn some criticism, but before rushing to judge the order, consider how we got to this point both in Virginia and across the country.

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Youngkin was elected in November, in part, because he pledged to bring common sense pragmatism to the state. He said there should be no room for intolerance or discrimination in our classrooms or the public discourse.

That message helped carry large swaths of independent and moderate voters, notably suburban moms, tipping the scales in a close election. Legislation is an important tool to stamp out intolerance in our schools. Even more decisive, however, is the culture in our classrooms.

When a teacher expresses a partisan attitude or conveys partiality, something as little as an off-hand comment – “Your White privilege is showing,” or “I would expect that answer from someone like you” – can discourage students from forming independent thought. But, of course, you cannot legislate all behavior. Those changes start with school leaders, parents and teachers who together set the ethos of a school.

Critical race theory was a flashpoint in Virginia, as it has been across much of the country. This school of thought and the phrase has become the poster child of a decades-long trend of curricula and textbooks that obsess over America’s failings and steer away from its exceptionalism.

Yet, for all the hullabaloo, critical race theory itself remains widely misunderstood, which has produced a great deal of knee-jerk policymaking. Liberals have argued that critical race theory is not taught in classrooms, and for the most part that’s true.

It happens to be a legal theory advocated most fervently by extremist professors. However, examples from Virginia’s Loudoun County and other school districts, where “anti-racism” doctrines have been incorporated into teacher training and lesson plans, lay bare the dangers of poor-quality programs, implemented badly, that draw from the tenets of critical race theory.

Such programs create destructive and divisive heat while offering no light – things that should have no place in our schools. In response, many Republican-controlled state houses have or are rushing to pass legislation meant to protect students from such practices and restore a more objective, honest recounting of the United States’ history – the whole and true story…

Youngkin’s executive order incorporates key elements of a conservative approach to these important issues. Incorporated wisely, conservative principles will prove a winning formula to provide high-quality education to our young people, for it is they who will write the next chapter of our nation, which remains the world’s last best hope. Youngkin is now the steward of Virginia’s future. May his tenure help move us all toward sensible, principled conservative education policy.

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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