Gov. Youngkin Bans Critical Race Theory, but More Reform is Necessary

David Randall

The National Association of Scholars and the Civics Alliance are delighted that newly inaugurated Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has begun his term by declaring that he will make good on his campaign promises. His Executive Order #1 directs the state administration to remove Critical Race Theory (CRT) from the public K-12 schools. His Executive Order #2 directs the state administration to remove the mask mandate from the public K-12 schools. We congratulate Governor Youngkin for moving so swiftly to redeem his promises—and to redeem Virginia’s children from the authoritarian whims of the public school bureaucracy.

Yet the state of Virginia must do more, to institutionalize education reform in Virginia. Virginia’s education bureaucracy, as education bureaucracies throughout the nation, remains deeply committed to CRT and other radical ideologies. We urge Governor Youngkin to address these priorities during his administration:

PARENTS’ RIGHTS: Governor Youngkin rightly stated in his Executive Order #2 that “parents, not the government, have the fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care of their children.” Virginia should pass laws that will give parents the power to enforce their rights to determine their children’s education. These laws should include:

  • An Academic Transparency Act, to require public schools to publicize transparently every category of document relating to schools’ policies and procedures.
  • A Financial Transparency Act, to require school districts to post immediately on a public website a transparent, detailed financial statement that itemizes all expenditures.
  • A School Board Election Date Act, to shift school board election dates to the same day as the general election, and thereby improve education reformers’ chances to win school board elections.
  • A School Board Member Recall Act, to establish straightforward procedures by which to recall school board members.

Virginia’s parents should not need to depend on Virginia’s governor to find out what their schools are doing or to remove school board members devoted to indoctrination rather than education. These laws will give Virginia’s parents real power to run their schools.

CRITICAL RACE THEORY AND ACTION CIVICS: Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order #1 is good within its scope, but it should be expanded to be effective. Virginia should pass laws to remove CRT and action civics (which is used to provide vocational training in radical activism) entirely from the state’s public K-12 schools. These laws should include:

  • A Partisanship Out of Civics Act, to prevent teachers from giving credit to action civics or any other sort of public policy advocacy in history, government, civics, or social studies, and to bar civics classes from using the discriminatory ideology at the heart of Critical Race Theory.
  • A Classroom Learning Act, to eliminate service-learning pedagogy from public K-12 schools.
  • A Values Assessment Act, to prohibit public schools from assessing, rewarding, or punishing students, teachers, or administrators for their level of commitment to any value or attitude.
  • A Contractor Nondiscrimination Act, to require contractors for school districts to prohibit the use of Critical Race Theory policies that require discrimination by race, sex, or other group identity.

REFORMED STATE STANDARDS: Radical education bureaucrats impose their ideology by distorting the state education standards as well as by explicit injection of CRT and action civics. Virginia should pass laws to restore proper education standards to its public K-12 schools. These laws should include:

  • A Social Studies Curriculum Act, to mandate K-12 instruction in Economics, State History, United States History, Civics, and Western Civilization.
  • A Civics Course Act, to mandate a year-long high school civics course, including requirements to study the primary documents of the American founding and bans on action civics and the components of Critical Race Theory.
  • A United States History Act, to mandate a year-long high school United States History course, including requirements to study the primary documents of American history and bans on action civics and the components of Critical Race Theory.
  • A Western Civilization Act, to mandate a year-long high school Western Civilization course, including requirements to study the primary documents of Western Civilization and bans on action civics and the components of Critical Race Theory.
  • A Schools Nondiscrimination Act, to mandate that no one should be either included or excluded from our nation’s content standards, curricula, trainings, textbooks, and other school materials on account of their race, sex, or other group identity.
  • A Historical Documents Act, to mandate instruction in historical documents and the liberty to use historical documents.
  • A Legislative Review Act, to require all existing academic standards, and all forthcoming revisions, to be submitted to the state legislature and the governor for review and possible veto.

HIGHER EDUCATION: Radical advocates have also seized control of universities, education schools, and teacher licensure. The campaign against CRT and action civics, if it is to succeed, must also include work to reform these institutions. Legislative priorities should include:

  • A modified version of the Partisanship Out of Civics Act, to forbid administrative trainings and policies that inculcate CRT, but which incorporates recognition of the constitutionally established sphere of academic freedom in higher education.
  • An American History Act, to add an American History and Government general education requirement to public universities.
  • Dual-Course Credit. Virginia should make sure that the American History and Government course added to the public university General Education Requirements is also available as a dual credit course in public high schools. This dual credit course should possess rigorous standards, forbid action civics or activism, and have transparent syllabi.
  • Reform Teaching Licensure. Education schools abuse their monopoly on teaching licensure to train teachers to teach social justice propaganda and action civics. States should establish teaching licensure pathways that allow teachers to avoid education schools and that establish a preference for subject-matter specialists over education majors. States should also require teachers in state public schools who teach English or Social Studies to pass six (6) survey courses in Western Heritage, American History, and American Government. These courses should include no action civics or activism.

We make these recommendations for a broad array of laws to institutionalize the prohibition of CRT, and to make sure it cannot return. We are aware, however, that education reformers do not yet possess a sure majority in Virginia’s General Assembly. We urge Governor Youngkin and his administration to push for these laws both in hopes that they can secure immediate passage and to prepare the ground for legislation when a legislative majority can be secured.

We make these recommendations, and we make one further one of the utmost importance. Make sure the Virginia education bureaucracy enforces Executive Orders #1 and #2. Bureaucrats are past masters of the arts of noncompliance. We urge Governor Youngkin and his administration to make it a top priority that these Executive Orders actually go into effect, both in the state Education Department and in each public school district. We urge in particular that they take all necessary disciplinary measures to ensure that CRT advocates do not sabotage these reforms.

Governor Youngkin has begun his term very well. He will do even better by enforcing his Executive Orders. We urge him to ensure the long-term success of his agenda by passing a broad range of laws to institutionalize education reform.

Photo: Bus Tour by Glenn Youngkin on Flickr // Public Domain 1.0

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