Gov. Glenn Youngkin appointed a critical race theory critic to lead his administration’s effort to find CRT in Virginia public education who, surprise, surprise, was able to make things that aren’t CRT in Virginia public education appear to fit the narrative.
“All Virginia students should have the opportunity to receive an excellent education that teaches all history including the good and the bad, prioritizes academic excellence, and fosters equal opportunities for all students. Our Virginia students should not be taught to discriminate on the basis of sex, skin color, or religion and VDOE policies should certainly not recommend such concepts,” Youngkin said Friday, upon the release of a 19-page interim report from Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow.
Among the examples highlighted in the politically-charged report are the presence on “suggested reading lists” of authors Ibram X Kendi and Gloria Ladson-Billings, though it appears that the “reading lists” are being “suggested” not to students but to administration and school division leaders.
Another item highlighted is an audit tool for which the guiding mission statement lays out that education equity is achieved “when we eliminate the predictability of student outcomes based on gender, zip code, ability, socioeconomic status or language spoken at home.”
Another: a document for Navigating EdEquity VA – Virginia’s Road Map to Equity, in which the Department of Education pledges to “remain steadfast in our commitment to the principles of anti-racism, cultural proficiency, resource equity, and high expectations for all students. Further, we recognize that Anti-racist education leaders are critical partners in our efforts to advance our broader equity priorities including: developing a culturally competent educator workforce, eliminating disproportionality in student outcome data, closing opportunity and achievement gaps among marginalized student groups, increasing access to high quality early learning opportunities, and maximizing the potential of every Virginia student.”
None of this is being taught in classrooms. One of the documents highlighted even notes that “the purpose of this document was to support division leaders as they further the shared goal of fostering schools that are welcoming and respectful of all students, families, and school staff.”
Cue the bombast from Balow in the report’s cover letter.
“This interim report rescinds certain policies, programs, and resources that promote discriminatory and divisive concepts as directed by Executive Order One,” Balow wrote. “It also contains a sampling of critical race theory-based materials. However, the concepts have become widespread in the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and in Virginia school divisions and we will need to proactively review policies, practices, and pedagogies around the state to uphold the Civil Rights Act and comport with Executive Order One. We must continue to ensure that no student in Virginia is taught to judge or treat others differently solely on the basis of their race, skin color, ethnicity, sex or faith. As the work continues, we will engage stakeholders in an ongoing dialogue about how all resources and initiatives from the Virginia Department of Education must permit and encourage school divisions to build a culture of compassion, acceptance, opportunity, and positive change.”
Basically, she was assigned to find CRT, couldn’t, and must have assumed that no one would read through the report to see where she had to make things fit.
“There is much work to be done, but I am encouraged that Superintendent Balow is proactively reviewing policies and practices around the Commonwealth,” said Youngkin, who, you may remember, promised last year on the campaign trail to take politics out of education, and then chose this curious first step – using your tax dollars to produce a slapdash interim report that found nothing substantive – to go about fulfilling that promise.
“This is the first step,” Youngkin said, “in improving Virginia’s education system, restoring high academic expectations, equipping our future generation to be career or college ready, and providing equal opportunities for all Virginia students. As your governor, I will continually stand up for students and parents and look forward to signing the largest education budget in Virginia’s history.”
Insert the words “wealthy” and “white” before “students” and “parents” in that last sentence, and you’ll get a clearer picture of who Youngkin will be continually standing up for.
Story by Chris Graham