ICYMI: Community Members Support Equity in Schools

Richmond, Virginia—In a press conference held on Tuesday by the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia chapter of the NAACP, the Legal Aid Justice Center, community members and organizers came together in vehement opposition to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s attempts to ban what he calls “divisive concepts” but are really just measures to support equity and inclusion of all people in our schools. Since taking office in January, Youngkin has undermined teachers by setting up a tip line for the reporting of “divisive concepts” and issuing an executive order calling for an audit of public school resources and curriculum, in search of concepts that address racial and socioeconomic disparities in education.  

“Governor Youngkin’s repeated attacks on educational equity completely ignore the hope every parent in Virginia has for their child: that no matter what they look like or where they live, their student will have a safe and welcoming school where they can get a high-quality, inclusive education,” LaTwyla Mathias, Executive Director at Progress Virginia, said. “It is undeniable that these attacks on teaching real history are the true “divisive concepts.” This is just another way Governor Youngkin is trying to distract us from the real issues facing our education systems. With his actions, Youngkin is causing harm to all of our community’s children by removing opportunities for students to learn about and understand themselves as well as other cultures and experiences different from their own. We need to focus on solving the real problems that our students and teachers are facing like school buildings that are falling apart, low teacher pay, and schools that lack the resources they need to ensure all of their students are able to thrive.”

VEA, state NAACP push back on Youngkin’s plans to ax ‘divisive’ resources [Richmond Times Dispatch, by Mel Leonor]

“‘We will not stand idly by while [Youngkin] and his administration attempt to roll back the recent progress we’ve made in teaching honest and culturally competent lessons in Virginia public schools for blatant political gain,’ said James Fedderman, the president of the Virginia Education Association, which represents 40,000 teachers in the state.”

“Fedderman said Youngkin’s efforts are an attempt to ‘exploit the fear of a small group of parents in order to advance his politically motivated agenda.’ He also criticized a tip line the administration set up to field tips of divisive concepts, calling it a ‘ridiculous and insulting educator snitch line.’”

“‘We stand against any efforts to dismantle the progress that’s been made toward an inclusive society by those claiming we must only teach a sanitized version of history,’ said the Rev. Elisha Burke, a board member of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, and a leader within the Baptist General Convention of Virginia.”

“‘We must not condone any efforts to set us back,’ James Fedderman said.” 

“Youngkin, who campaigned heavily on reforming the way schools teach students about race, directed his new education leaders to audit the state’s resources for ‘divisive concepts’ in the first executive order he signed on Jan. 15, the day he was inaugurated.”

“The resulting memo describes affirmative action policies in schools as discriminatory, suggests that historic discrimination in education might not be to blame for disparate outcomes among students of color, and rejects the idea that white people may unwittingly benefit from systemic racism and discrimination.”