Richmond, VA — Today, DPVA held a virtual press conference to discuss Glenn Youngkin’s divisive education agenda and Virginia Democrats’ plans to make historic investments in our schools, raise teacher pay, and fight to lift up all students.
Glenn Youngkin has put forward dangerous policies that would threaten public education in the commonwealth and is advancing false conspiracy theories for political gain. From threatening to defund public schools to opposing the American Rescue Plan’s investments in public education, Youngkin’s far-right agenda on education would leave Virginia students behind.
See below for key excerpts and watch the full conversation here.
DPVA Chairwoman Susan Swecker
“Republicans have stood opposed to efforts to invest in our public schools. Instead of joining Democrats to raise teacher pay, Republicans voted against pay raises. Instead of voting for the American Rescue plan, Republicans rejected it -- and Glenn Youngkin called these investments ‘unnecessary.’”
“Glenn Youngkin’s fear mongering and hypercharged rhetoric is just a distraction from the fact that he has no education plan. Instead of putting forward a plan to invest in Virginia’s public schools, to make them the best in the country, Youngkin has spent his campaign attacking our schools and teachers. He has threatened to defund schools if they don’t follow his political agenda. This is absolutely reprehensible.”
“We can’t leave our schools and our teachers in the hands of someone who has threatened to defund our public schools. We saw in Loudoun County, just last week, that attacking our school's leaders leads to violence, hatred and death threats launched against public servants. The KKK has distributed flyers against the Fairfax and Loudoun school boards, but Youngkin has done nothing to turn down the temperature. Instead, he has only encouraged these disgusting protests more.”
Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg
“In 2017, when I decided to get into the race to run for the House of Delegates, the main reason I got in was we had spent a decade in the wilderness as a state when it came to public education. A decade after the Great Recession, we had funding levels that were still lower than before the recession. We saw buildings start to crumble, we saw class sizes get bigger, we saw special education course loads grow and grow and grow and grow as our support staff dwindled”
“In the last two years, the state of Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia, has gotten back into the game. We have started the process of fully funding schools. We have added money to the at-risk add on for the schools that need it the most. We have provided money to open safely when we had a pandemic. We have added school counselors, we have given teachers pay raises, we have gotten the state back into the game of providing every kid with the opportunity for a world-class education.”
“Democrats have delivered. After a decade in which the Republicans have allowed the system to decay, we have started to make it robust again. We have started to make sure that all corners of the commonwealth have access to a world-class education...We are doubling down on expanding early education to more and more 3 and 4 year-olds. We are doubling down on broadband access. We are doubling down on investing in schools. Terry McAuliffe has called for $2 billion in investment. We are using the American Rescue Plan money, money that Republicans didn’t vote for and that Youngkin considers unnecessary. We are using that money to invest in schools, and school infrastructure.”
Loudoun County School Board Vice Chair Atoosa Reaser
“My colleagues and I have been receiving death threats for months now because of an organized campaign from political operatives who have been targeting our school board. By creating controversies to score political points, they’re making it harder for us to do our jobs which is to protect the diverse student body of Loudon schools.”
“Despite the many challenges of this year, our school board has worked hard to do incredible things to make our schools more welcoming and inclusive for all of the students and our staff...We have been supporting students with our newly formed mental health task force that will help with a transition back to a regular school year. We have been able to increase counselor ratios. We have been able to give immediate and continuous food delivery for all students during the pandemic and after. We provided stipends for our frontline educators and staff during the COVID crisis. We were able to provide step increases and pay raises.”
“We have to make sure that we can continue this progress and I believe the only way to do that is to elect Democrats up and down the ballot who are committed to investing in and strengthening our public schools.”
“Opponents of the school board may be more interested in scoring political points than listening to students, but we are committed to making our schools more stronger and inclusive regardless of the attacks. Youngkin and his political allies should stop playing politics with our students' education...The use of our students and families as political pawns is despicable. The threats of violence against school board members is horrific and real. This has to stop, and we need to be able to do our job.”