Government Watch / Politics

Youngkin “Back to School Rally” Highlights Education as Winning Issue for Conservatives

AMAC Exclusive – By Eleanor Vaughn


3:00 pm on a Wednesday afternoon is a busy time for most parents, especially at the end of August. But in an Arlington, Virginia public park, behind the baseball diamond and across the parking lot from the soccer field, a crowd of parents—along with grandparents, civic-minded young adults, and a few kids still in their school uniforms—gathered at that time last week to hear what Governor Glenn Youngkin and Virginia Republicans had to say about education, in what was billed as a “Back to School Rally.” Though perhaps not the most conventional political rally, the event was (in this local’s opinion) an example of how Youngkin has harnessed concerns over education and parents’ rights to rise from a political unknown to become the popular Governor of Virginia and a rising star within the GOP – a model that other Republicans may be wise to follow.

Youngkin was joined at the event by the Republican nominees for three Congressional districts—the Virginia 8th, 10th, and 11th—who spoke first. Karina Lipsman, running in the 8th District to unseat Democrat Don Beyer, and Hung Cao, running in the 10th District against incumbent Democrat Jennifer Wexton, described how education had changed their lives after fleeing communism (in Ukraine and Vietnam, respectively). Jim Myles, the 11th District Republican nominee to take on Democrat Gerry Connolly, highlighted the concerns of parents who wanted to leave the public school system but were unable to afford tuition at private schools, emphasizing the need for more school choice.

The Congressional candidates were joined by the entire Republican ticket from last year’s statewide election: Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears, Attorney General Jason Miyares, and Youngkin. All three detailed their accomplishments from the past seven months, but none seemed willing to rest on their laurels. Sears said school choice was the “new Brown v. Board,”and a crucial part of correcting the unacceptably high failure rates of reading achievement tests—over 80% among black students in the fourth grade. Miyares described legal victories on masking and the fights to come on implementing new laws about school resource officers. Youngkin emphasized the importance of transparency from schools, and the necessity of keeping parents involved in the most important parts of their children’s lives. The Virginia Governor has made headlines over the past several weeks for criticizing policies at some Virginia school districts that allow schools to “socially transition” children (refer to them by their chosen pronouns and provide “gender affirming” therapy) without informing parents.

The rally and Youngkin’s renewed emphasis on education as the school year kicks off follows a year of progress for his administration on the issue. Youngkin’s “Day One” executive orders included banning divisive frameworks like Critical Race Theory from classrooms and repealing school mask mandates. He also authorized an investigation into the mishandling of sexual assault cases in Loudon County Public Schools, where school officials seemed more focused on preventing scandal and silencing parents than protecting students. Additionally, Youngkin has signed into law bipartisan legislation promoting literacy and giving parents greater oversight of what type of materials their children are exposed to in school.

Youngkin’s reforms couldn’t come a moment too soon. The Virginia Department of Education recently released a 33-page report detailing the status of Virginia’s educational system, which Youngkin called “disturbing.” The report highlighted clear achievement gaps for students, particularly following school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Youngkin slammed prior Democrat administrations for the shortfall, saying that the report “details how state policy choices and priorities over the last decade have resulted in lower student achievement in reading and mathematics, wider achievement gaps, reduced transparency, and eroding parent confidence in the Commonwealth’s public schools.”

Specifically, the report points to lowered standards in Virginia under Democratic Governors Ralph Northam and Terry McAuliffe. As student scores sagged, the Northam and McAuliffe education departments simply lowered the requirements for being deemed “proficient” or “advanced,” creating the illusion of progress when really students were accomplishing less.

Youngkin’s focus on education as a top priority is clearly resonating with the commonwealth’s voters. According to a recent poll from Roanoke College, Youngkin’s approval rating currently sits at 55%, up from 53% in May. Notably, while only 25% of respondents in the Roanoke poll said that they felt the country was going in the right direction, 51% said the same of Virginia.

What works in Virginia can work elsewhere. The strategy isn’t complex: look for the issues that can get people excited at 3:00 pm on a Wednesday afternoon, and deliver on them. Republicans appear to have found one of those issues in education and parents’ rights.

Eleanor Vaughn is a writer living in Virginia.

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8 months ago


8 months ago

Youngkin is right on track when he realizes how important it is to educate our youth. That is our future for us & our place in the world. Do not agree that state has right when it comes to face masks. Can not forgive Tucker Carlson comments this year ” Parents who make their kids wear face masks is child abuse”. The parents have the right to protect their children & not a radical like Carlson.

David P Nelson
8 months ago

Good work, Gov!

Philip Hammersley
8 months ago

Remember “public” schools which had students singing praise songs about Obama? I’m waiting for the founding of “Biden Youth.”

anna hubert
8 months ago

So 80% of black children can’t read you don’t need to to vote democrat as mommies and daddies have done for decades

Philip Hammersley
8 months ago
Reply to  anna hubert

But since they CAN’T read or write, how will they know to vote against the DIMMs? That’s the whole point of the DIMMS and their masters in the “teachers'” unions keeping them ignorant of facts!

Patriot Bill
8 months ago

No, ELECTION FRAUD is THE biggest problem.

8 months ago
Reply to  Patriot Bill

Of course , you are right . Election fraud is our biggest problem in the short term, in the immediate term . Election Fraud is TODAY’s problem . But what’s happening in our school is the most serious problem with the long term in mind. Both must be fixed right away .

8 months ago
Reply to  Gary

Do not agree, America is facing a lot bigger problems that election fraud. And what is your source saying that all elections are fraud.

8 months ago
Reply to  Patriot Bill

And what does that have to do with education & Youngkin Are you saying he did get elected honestly. I believe in our election system & will vote at mid-terms & the non-believers can stay home and complain about fraud in elections. What is your solution ??

8 months ago

Gov. Youngkin, Winsom Sears, Gov. DeSantis, Dr. Ben Carson all conservative , all interested in promoting the American principles and ideals espoused by our founding fathers. A winning combination!

J. Farley
8 months ago

I wish we could clone Gov. Youngkin, he is an exceptionally good leader, he has America best interests at heart, you can tell he has the Constitution and our freedoms held near and dear, and while we are at cloning him, we just as well clone his Lt. Governor Winsome Sears they are making Virgina Great Again!

8 months ago

For the long term , this is the most important issue . Our children are our future . And they are America’s future . Nothing is more precious than our children . The outrageous idea that someone with a perverted , sick , dirty agenda would teach OUR children CRT and “Trans” studies is a crime . And should be punished with long term jail time . Very long term jail time . Thank God we have Gov. Youngkin to protect our children And this is why we must get more adults and parents to vote in School District Elections .

.. And, btw , what a nice coincidence that the governor has a name that relates to this most important issue .

8 months ago
Reply to  Gary

Have we not had it pushed on us for decades that reading is fundamental! Where have those community service messages on tv gone? In order to survive in this world, one must be able to read.

I was told that college was to teach us how to use books. One has to be able to read to do that. I read every day to learn how to fix things on the internet.

We just need to get rid of the indoctrination. The schools need to get back to the basics.

But they also need to be able to make sure the students are learning.

I think that we need to change the way things are taught in school. We always had the same courses every year, 4 years of english teaching the same thing.

What needs to be done is not keep repeating the same things boring the children. If the child has proven his proficiency, then move them on to additional different subjects, even college courses, instead of boring them with the same thing year after year.

The ones that cannot read should not be advanced until they can read. Proficiency in math is critical too.

Maybe we do not need school grades, like first grade, second grade , etc. Maybe we should just teach the student until they know the subject, then move them on to more advanced subjects.

Without grades, then a student cannot fail a grade and have to repeat it. If they fail at a subject , they just have to retake that subject until they pass it. The stigma of failing grade levels will no longer be there. Just go to school and learn.

I cannot see this happening with the current climate.

8 months ago
Reply to  PIDL

Many private schools use the system you describe. It’s called “accelerated education”. It allows a child to learn at their own pace. My daughter loved it and exceeded her goals because she was free to go forward when she was ready, not on a schedule.

Stephen Russell
8 months ago

Apply nationwide , good idea needed

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