Are VA Gov. Youngkin's first-day executive orders right?
- Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin was elected Virginia's 74th Governor on November 2, 2021, and was sworn into office on January 15, 2022. It is the first time a Republican has won the office since 2009.
- On January 15, 2022, Governor Youngkin signed 11 first-day executive actions, including, ending Critical Race Theory in public education, allowing parents to make decisions on masks in schools, and asking the Attorney General to investigate the Virginia Parole Board.
- A Fox News voter analysis poll found that 72% viewed CRT as “important” to them when considering who to vote for governor. Of that group, 25% considered it the “single most important factor.”
- An August 2021 Gallup poll found that 48% of K-12 parents say students should be required to wear masks, while 41% say no students should wear masks.
While it's no surprise that Virginia Governor Greg Youngkin would want to make a big statement with his day one executive orders, it is a shame that his orders would be so predictably bad for the state. Orders against masking and vaccine mandates simply make no sense when America's seeing the highest levels of COVID infections to date. Republicans often cry that policies are divisive when they don't get their way. Rather than weigh in on something so sensitive as children wearing masks at school, Youngkin could have opted to leave these decisions up to public health experts. Decisions such as masking for schools and vaccine mandates should be driven by science with input from experts, not sensational politics and pandering to extremist elements in the Republican base.
However, the most distasteful of Governor Youngkin's reckless and damaging initiatives is certainly his order to end the teaching of critical race theory in Virginia's schools. While this executive order ultimately won't make any difference, since critical race theory isn't taught in Virginia's schools, it shows where Youngkin and his party are when it comes to racial justice in America. While much of the nation was preparing to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Youngkin was busy making sure no one would ever think too hard about the systemic racism King and other civil rights leaders fought so hard against in his state's schools. This order is particularly difficult to stomach, considering that two of Youngkin's other orders addressed antisemitism and human trafficking. This shows that Youngkin's administration is capable of understanding the struggles of marginalized groups; they'd just seemingly avoid addressing the struggles of people of color in the commonwealth.
Not only were Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin's first-day executive orders right, they are no-brainers, dealing steadily with the issues Virginians are concerned with most and elected him to solve.
One of his executive orders put an end to using the divisive concepts perpetuated by Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Virginia. Even Youngkin's opponent, Terry McAuliffe, denied CRT was taught in Virginia public schools, yet, those claims were immediately proven incorrect: Virginia's Department of Education explicitly mentioned using CRT to 're-engineer attitudes and belief systems' in a 2015 presentation. Superintendent memo 050-019 promoted CRT and 'white fragility.' Superintendent James Lane sent a letter to schools endorsing 'Foundations of Critical Race Theory in education,' and invoices revealed the state spent around $34 thousand on training teachers in CRT.
Youngkin signed another executive order to investigate wrongdoing in Loudoun Country, where school board arrogance and its contempt for parents erupted following the news of a 'transgender' student who had raped a female student in the high school girls' bathroom. The Loudoun County school system tried to hide the crime by transferring the student to another school, where that same student allegedly raped another student.
The Loudoun County School Board has much to answer for, and Youngkin's executive order is a step in the right direction. Although, it shouldn't take an executive order by the governor to investigate and hold school boards accountable.
Finally, another of Youngkin's executive orders lifts the school mask mandate, thereby empowering Virginia parents to make their own decisions regarding whether their child wears a mask at school. Parents are free to continue to have their own children wear masks at school, but the requirement has ended. Masks for school children have been shown to do more harm than good.