The March 11 Metro article about Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s CNN town hall performance, “Youngkin backs Va. education policies in town hall,” started by noting he dodged questions about a presidential run. It should have opened by pointing out that he dodged or deflected nearly every question asked. Two key examples were his positions on transgender students and teaching history.
A young transgender man, concerned about Mr. Youngkin’s proposed policy that would force him to use the girls’ restrooms and limit him to girls’ sports teams, asked Mr. Youngkin (R) if he thought “the girls in my high school would feel comfortable sharing a restroom with me.”
Rather than answering, Mr. Youngkin said schools need to construct private restrooms. That would likely take decades even if he had proposed funding for it, which he hasn’t. He also stated it was noncontroversial that students who were assigned male at birth be limited to playing on boys’ teams. Noncontroversial? He has built his political career on stirring up controversy on these issues, using the most vulnerable students as political pawns.
Another example of his evasiveness was when he was asked about how his proposed history standards restrict teachers’ ability to teach. His response was that the good and bad of history should be taught but teachers “shouldn’t teach it with judgment.”
In other words, teachers can teach that an issue such as slavery was something that happened but not teach that it was wrong. How does that provide a holistic teaching of history?
One thing about Mr. Youngkin is that he is slick. That makes him dangerous.
Christopher Ambrose, Lorton
After watching the CNN town hall with Mr. Youngkin and reading articles in The Post about education, I, as a retired teacher, would like to remind the governor, other governors and legislators that the public school system is for the public.
This nonsectarian system is financed, managed and maintained by a public from diverse backgrounds. It keeps parents informed about curriculum materials and allows them to opt out of a program. It embraces all children with different needs, with different cultural beliefs and in different financial situations. These students are taught by well-trained, professional educators who reflect the values and the principles of a free society. These teachers need to be trusted, respected and supported. The teacher communicates with parents. With years of experience and expertise, the educator knows how to select the appropriate subject matter at the appropriate age. The teacher is skilled at addressing the best learning style and learning environment for each child. Sometimes parents do not make the best academic decision for their child.
Public schools already have a limited number of teachers, staff and resources. The public-school funding that legislators would propose to include private schools would only worsen the availability of adequate resources in public school. Unlike some private and charter schools, the public school system does not indoctrinate and accepts all students with different cultural beliefs and various mental levels.
Public schools offer a creative, tolerant and respectful learning environment. Well-funded public education is the basis for a healthy and functional democratic society.
Betty Bott, Arlington
How kind of CNN to offer Mr. Youngkin an entire hour to promote his blatant quest for the presidency. With virtually no experience in public education, he displayed his agenda for turning Virginia’s previously excellent public schools over to private entrepreneurs. He again touted his “parents first” mantra, forgetting entirely about the much larger constituency — we who pay taxes that fund our schools regardless of whether we have students there. Recently, the Youngkin administration caused chaos by “misplacing” $201 million in Virginia school funds. Now, he is offering $30 million in “grants” (a.k.a.: vouchers) for tutoring by “vetted and approved” agencies. Make no mistake about Mr. Youngkin’s mission.
Public schools are the genius of our democracy, their mission being to educate citizens to become productive, inquisitive, capable, thinking adults. Public schools promise equal opportunity, not equal results, which depend on many outside factors. Tension among constituencies is not new: As a teacher, I was instructed never to mention “values” during the 1970s. (One student responded, “Oh, heck, you teach values by having plants in your classroom.”) Censorship has reached a new high, however, when factual reality is shunned if it contravenes politicians’ agendas.
Good teachers (many of whom are also parents) strive to pull all students upward, historically receiving inadequate pay but now also a lot of vilification. Be wary of slick, smiling, private school politicians in sheep’s vests pontificating on public education.
Virginia S. Dopp, Williamsburg, Va.