Governor-Elect Youngkin’s Intentions for Education

The Virginia gubernatorial election, race for governor, took place on November 2, 2021. Voters could choose between three candidates: Terry McAuliffe, democrat and former VA governor from 2014-2018, Glenn Youngkin, republican and successful businessman, or Princess Blanding, an independent from the Libertarian Party. 

The final tabulation of votes resulted in a republican victory, with Youngkin taking 50.9% compared to McAuliffe’s 48.4%, and Blanding’s 0.7%.

Virginia, as well as the rest of the nation, closely watched the results of this election because it could have the power to influence midterm elections next year. Those elections will determine if the Democratic party will maintain their majorities in the US Senate and House of Representatives. This republican victory signaled to President Joe Biden that his agenda needs to “produce for the American people,” sooner than later while the government remains unified.

Education proved to be a major talking point throughout the campaigning process for both McAuliffe and Youngkin. They had differing views on the involvement of parents within school systems; this includes the question of whether or not mask and vaccine mandates are applicable in schools and what curriculum is acceptable to teach. 

After Youngkin’s election success, here is what Virginia students and teachers should expect:

According to his campaign website, Youngkin is prepared to enact a three-step plan in order to raise school standards and accountability. First, he wants to pass an executive order returning education to the pre-McAuliffe era, meaning that he wants to set high standards for schools. Second, he plans to protect advanced math classes because it is a crucial subject for the future of our economy. Finally, he wants to “refocus on the fundamentals of reading, writing, and math.”

His other missions regarding education include “teach[ing] kids how to think, not what to think” by removing Critical Race Theory. CRT refers to the idea of systematic racism and perceives U.S. History through a racist lens. Eliminating this from the curriculum would prevent the positive reputation of the United States from being tarnished, choosing to exclude the harmful means by which we originally claimed the land and have run the country. This could impact the range of historical events history teachers can discuss and the literature available for English teachers to read. Although Critical Race Theory is not a part of the Virginia Standards of Learning, Youngkin feels that it is still present within schools. 15 other states have passed bills against teaching CRT; it is possible that Virginia could be next. 

Courtesy of

In terms of increased school funding, Youngkin has made several claims about his future plans. He would like to increase the number of all-year Governor’s schools available, add 20 additional charter schools, and rebuild crumbling education buildings. Making more school initiatives is another tactic he is willing to try in order to make Virginia education the best in the country. Also, according to the Washington Post, he is committed to investing at least $100 million to increase teacher salaries and $200 million for emergency school infrastructure upgrades. 

His response to the pandemic in schools is to keep them open. Another virtual year is not an option and schools should remain in session five days a week. In regards to enforcing masks in school, Youngkin believes that it should be up to parents rather than school districts. The same goes for vaccinations. 

As any state shifts from democratic to republican leadership, change is expected. Education is no exception to these changes. Time will tell as to whether or not Youngkin’s proposed policies will be introduced or if they were just used for campaign leverage.