Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin outlined his vision to reform Virginia’s broken education system, in a major address delivered Tuesday night in Fairfax County:
Thank you all for being here. Let me start, we need to thank the Burke Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department for having us here tonight. We have to thank them for keeping us safe, all day, all night, all the work that they do, gentlemen, women, thank you so much. And I want to thank all of you for being here tonight. There’s a reason that you’re here tonight.
For months, for months, we’ve seen chaos seep into our schools, escalating into violence. Violence in our schools that lack security. A new instance each week until the unthinkable happened: Virginia – and America – awoke to the news that a young teenage girl had been sexually assaulted in her Loudoun County school – and worse, the school administrators covered it up, and Loudoun’s commonwealth attorney targeted the victim’s family.
Let me say that again – I agree, I agree, I’m going to say that again — a young girl was assaulted in her school, and the administrators – those who are entrusted with not only her education, but her safety – tried to cover it up. Then they quietly moved the offender, an offender being prosecuted for sexual assault, to another school where he was able to do it again.
Two young girls have been sexually assaulted because our system, our system, failed to protect them.
As a Virginian, I am heartbroken for these girls and their families, I’m heartbroken at how their government and leaders failed them. As a father, I am ignited with an unwavering resolve to not just fix this, it is an unwavering resolve to not just fix this but to hold those who have failed our children accountable.
There is no time to sidestep or mince words. The blame for these wrongs and the present chaos in our schools lay squarely, squarely, at the feet of 40-year politician Terry McAuliffe. It just does. Square at Terry McAuliffe’s feet but also George Soros-backed allies. These allies that are in the left, liberal progressive movement, they’ve inserted political operatives into our school system, disguised as school boards, they shut parents out, and concealed the truth.
Our kids can’t wait until January 15th. Friends, what we’ve seen in Loudoun County, what we’ve seen in Alexandria, can happen right here in Fairfax, it can happen down in Norfolk, it can happen in Bristol, it can happen in Richmond. And therefore, today I am calling for an immediate investigation into the Loudoun County School Board for their gross negligence.
They had a duty of care and they failed. They endangered our students and violated the Virginia Constitution. Instead of investigating parents, the Department of Justice should be investigating those who covered up a heinous crime in our school. They not only covered up a heinous crime, they enabled an offender being prosecuted of sexual assault to attack again. Instead of running a political campaign of division, Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring should be investigating those responsible. That is his job, and he won’t do it! And as Brandon says, do your job Mark Herring! This is his job and he won’t do it.
The time for closed door conversation and silencing parents is over. We must fix this now. Those who are responsible must be fired or resign immediately. Virginia’s children can’t wait until January 15th to feel safe in our schools.
The already passionate parent-driven movement has understandably become more and more outraged.
But righteous anger isn’t enough.
What other tragedy awaits Virginia children?
What could be the next horrible headline?
We can’t afford to read about it in the morning paper, or see another violent video circulate on social media. It’s time to answer failure with action.
Our kids can’t wait.
We are going to take immediate action in regards to our kids’ safety. Our kids can’t wait!
First, when I’m your governor, working for you, every school will be required to have school resource officers on its campus. And let me be clear, they will be on every campus or that school will lose its funding. If you are a school board and you refuse to equip your schools with school resource officers to keep our children safe, you will need to find your funding for your school on your own.
Second, starting immediately, we will require the annual school safety audits to be conducted in coordination with local law enforcement. We are going to ensure that we are bringing every resource possible to bear to keep our children safe.
Third, if we don’t get a full investigation of Loudoun County’s school board cover up, rest assured, on Day One, Jason Miyares who will be our next attorney general, Jason Miyares is going to go to work and he will do the job that Mark Herring is failing to do today.
And finally, when I’m governor, every school will be mandated to report crimes to local law enforcement. No more cover ups, no more keeping parents in the dark. If there is a crime committed at a school, we’re calling the police.
When I’m governor, I will demand and we will get it, the repeal of the law passed by Democrats that allows school districts to cover up serious crimes. Never again will radical school boards be able to hide criminals in our schools.
Now when we send our children to school, it is the most basic expectation that our child returns home each day as safe as when that student walked innocently through those school’s doors. Parents also entrust the schools to prepare our kids to succeed and doing so, they expect the school to raise the standards, not the political rhetoric.
Sadly, Virginia has been hurtling towards this horrific moment, this moment of crisis for the past eight years.
With each passing day, a new report emerges of the toll that Terry McAuliffe’s nefarious agenda has taken on the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth has failed to properly compensate its educators—the heroes we entrust to shape the minds of the future. Terry McAuliffe had his chance and he failed.
Terry McAuliffe lowered education standards so he and Richmond politicians could claim that there were fewer failing schools in order to advance their own political careers. 92% of schools in Virginia received full accreditation in 2018 and 19, despite the fact that 40% of the schools were failing to satisfy the state’s expectations.
As a result, students are increasingly unable to meet 4th and 8th grade benchmarks in math and reading. Virginia ranks 50th in the nation, 50th, in math and reading standards. 62% of Virginia 8th grade students, 62%, are failing to meet math standards – including 70% of Hispanic students and 84% of Black students. These numbers are shocking! Nearly 60% of 4th graders are unable to meet national reading standards, including 80% of Black students and 70% of Hispanic students.
Instead of addressing these deficiencies, political agendas replaced curriculum.
And last year, our students—already struggling—were further hobbled when the Coronavirus reached our shores and the same, the very same spineless politicians, these bureaucrats took their instructions from the teachers’ unions that fill their campaign coffers and they kept our classrooms closed, inflicting unquantifiable learning loss.
Terry McAuliffe himself, he was exposed, just three weeks ago when we were debating, and he spoke from his heart, he spoke from his heart and he said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
And it was Joe Biden, it was Joe Biden that called on his FBI to intimidate dissenting parents – now fully aware to the schemes perpetrated by the officials – these officials who were mistakenly trusted to be acting in your children’s best interest.
And now we learn there is no guarantee of our children’s safety. We’re told to stay out of education, trust the process that continues to fail our children day after day. No wonder, no wonder Terry wants parents out of it, and he wants to insert government between parents and their children.
As parents, as parents, we must harness that energy, we have to harness our outrage as we take back control from self-interested politicians and we produce solutions that not only meet the moment we’re in, but make Virginia schools worthy of our children and Virginia’s future.
Our children can’t wait – it is time to shine the light of truth on our schools.
Once we ensure our students are safe where they learn, we can respond immediately with actions on how and what they learn.
My administration will be defined by action, not platitudes. Our education movement, and it is a movement, will start with new leadership. By December 1st, I am going to name a new Secretary of Education and by December 1st I will name a new Virginia Superintendent, and they together, they together, will assemble a task force—comprised of teachers, administrators, law enforcement, students and parents – did you hear me say parents? Because parents matter.
And this task force will open wide the doors that Terry McAuliffe wants to keep closed, he wants to keep those doors closed to parents and we will expose those areas where politicians have been failing our children.
This task force will further bolster our Day One Game Plan and friends let me tell you, our principles will be matched by actions.
Principle number one is transparency. Our parents have been kept in the dark long enough. When I’m governor, schools will make teaching materials, textbooks, lesson plans all available to parents who request them. We must remove the political shroud over our schools that has kept parents in the dark. I will sign the bipartisan bill that Terry McAuliffe vetoed that would have alerted parents to what their children are reading in school.
Principle number two is democracy. Despite what Terry McAuliffe may think, every parent has the fundamental right to be democratically involved in the development of the public school curriculum. My Secretary of Education and the Virginia Superintendent will ensure parental involvement in school curriculum. No government or school board or bureaucrat will come between parents and your children. Not one.
Principle number three is equality. Schools and their policies must teach students to judge their peers based on character, not skin color. Our children and we have an opportunity to reject decades of hate and discrimination and begin journeys together, as neighbors, to bring people together, not to divide us. When I’m governor, we will teach all of our history, the good and the bad. All of it. So that we understand where we came from. We have abhorrent chapters in our history, we have great chapters in our history, we must know it all but let me be clear: I will ban Critical Race Theory at our schools.
Principle number four is investment. We will have the largest education budget in Virginia’s history. We will raise teacher pay, we will rebuild our crumbling schools, and we will invest in special education programs because Virginia’s kids with disabilities have suffered mightily during this pandemic and they deserve it.
Principle number five is excellence. We will encourage every student, of any background, to excel as far and as fast as their God-given talents will take them. We will never lower the bar just because it’s the easy road. We will never saddle these bright young minds with the burden of low expectations. My Virginia Board of Education will review annually Virginia’s school accreditation standards, and we will preserve an apolitical curriculum based on fact-based learning and critical thinking.
Principle number six is choice. A student’s zip code cannot determine his or her destiny. Parents must be free to make the decision best for their children, so on Day One we will start a journey and launch 20 new innovation charter schools across the Commonwealth. This is a mere down payment on closing the gap of choice within our public school system so parents can decide what’s best for your children.
And finally, overarching everything, is trust. Parents must trust our schools, and at the heart of trust, is safety. And if we cannot trust our kids to be safe in our schools, nothing else matters. We will hold accountable, we will hold them accountable, those to whom we entrust our children’s hearts, minds, and well-being. And that starts with safety, and that starts today.
I promise you, a very clear promise, that when I am working for all of you as your governor, and Winsome Sears as your Lieutenant Governor, and Jason Miyares as your Attorney General, we will fix this. We will fix this.
Friends, two weeks from today, two weeks from today, Virginia will have made a decision.
When the campaign closes, the ads run their course, the signs, and there’s a lot of them, are taken down — the debates subside, what our children will remember are the promises that we made – and we just made one – and the example we set.
Our opponents want us to fail. Against us are powerful forces, forces that thrive if we concede, if we give up, if we allow darkness to win over light. We can’t do it.
They will throw everything they can at us. Everything. And while we can feel the temptation to respond with division, we must stand together today, we must stand together united in a common mission. Our common mission is to provide our children with an excellent education that will serve them and a school that will keep them safe. You can all feel it. When you see something it means one thing, but when you feel it, it’s something totally different.
This is no longer a campaign. This is a movement. It is a movement led by you, led by parents all over Virginia and all over America.
Virginia – and this great United States of America – we are at a crossroads, and it is our duty, our duty as Virginians, our moral imperative, to answer the call.
To rise above the rhetoric.
To rise above the division.
To enable the pursuits of the next generation.
And in doing so we fulfill the obligation to our children that, when we turn Virginia into the best place to live, and work, and raise a family, we will have given the next generation the tools needed to ensure that that amazing distinction endures.
My fellow Virginians. We are going to win. We are. We are. We are. We’re going to win. We’re going to get this done. Stand with me today. So let’s get this done for our children, for one another, for Virginia, let’s get this done together.
God bless you all, God bless the Commonwealth of Virginia, and God bless America.