Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin criticized progressive school administrators in Fairfax County Public Schools for what he said were violations of parental rights.
The rally was held in celebration of the start of the 2022-23 school year, and it presented an opportunity for the governor to speak directly to some of his constituents about the issue that helped propel him to the governor’s mansion in 2021.
“Last year, we saw radical politicians say that parents had no right to determine what was being taught in their children’s classroom,” Youngkin told them. “Well, all of you, and many, many, many others across the Commonwealth of Virginia, stood up and said, ‘Enough’. You stood together. You stood together because we all recognized the core truth in our children’s education: parents matter. That’s what we concluded.”
Youngkin also referred to the passage of Senate Bill 656 – which allows parents who don’t agree with sexually explicit school materials to request an alternative set of materials – as a major legislative achievement in the fight for parental rights.
However, he cautioned that more work is needed, noting that “progressives in Fairfax County actually believe that they should lock parents out of their children’s lives.”
That’s in reference to a teacher training program in the county that told teachers there was no need to notify the parents of students who want to be addressed by a different name or pronoun.
“They think that parents have no right to know what your child is discussing with their teacher or their counselor, particularly when some of the most important topics that a child may want to discuss are being determined. What’s their name? What pronoun will they use? How are they going to express their gender?
“This is a decision that bureaucrats in Fairfax County believe that they should be able to make without telling parents.”
Before closing out the rally, Youngkin vowed to use “every ounce of my authority … to protect parents’ rights” and to bring back “excellence” to Virginia’s public school system.
“Our commitment to Virginians is to re-establish excellence in education,” Youngkin said. “We went to work on Day 1 because this is all about empowering parents. This is all about addressing your concerns. This is all about safety in schools, curriculum in schools, the decline in standards, and re-establishing expectations of excellence.”
The next day, Youngkin followed up his remarks by signing an executive order addressing the statewide teacher shortage in Virginia.
“Parents and teachers matter,” he said at the signing ceremony. “This directive is a comprehensive approach with multiple solutions to ensuring every student has a great teacher in the classroom.”
Youngkin’s office also announced the official launch of the Bridging the Gap Initiative Sept. 1, which is aimed at restoring educational excellence to Virginia’s public schools through individualized data, “Personalized Learning Plans” and training to cultivate partnerships between teachers, parents and students.
Upon the announcement, Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad Guidera said, “We must empower students, parents and teachers with timely, actionable and tailored data, as well as the tools and training to use that data to address learning gaps together. This transformational effort uses data as a flashlight to change conversations, decisions, actions and, most importantly, results.”