- For Governor-elect Youngkin to be successful, he must reject the ideology that any problem existing in education must be due to race and racism, and that any solution must be confined to race-based interventions. Tweet This
- Virginia should create more high-quality education options and trust parents to choose the schooling environment that is best for their kids—regardless of the racial makeup of the teaching faculty. Tweet This
Editor's Note: The eighth essay in this week's symposium is penned by educator and entrepreneur Ian Rowe, who urges Virginia's new governor to focus on empowering parents by providing a variety of educational options, like more charter schools.
Lost among the postmortems seeking to explain Glenn Youngkin’s stunning victory to become Virginia’s next governor is Terry McAuliffe’s equally stunning campaign promise to rid K-12 schools of white teachers so that everyone can “feel comfortable.” On the Sunday before Virginia voters cast their ballots, McAuliffe lamented in a campaign speech that “Fifty percent of students at Virginia schools—K-12—50 percent are students of color, and yet 80 percent of the teachers are white.” According to McAuliffe, too many white teachers is the problem. Rather than prioritize excellence as the primary criteria for hiring teachers across racial lines to improve student outcomes, McAuliffe offered this troubling rationale for his race-based thinking: “We all know what we have to do in a school to make everybody feel comfortable in school.”
This is the kind of idea that has become prevalent in an era of critical race theory that perversely demands that elected officials see the world solely through the prism of skin color. For Governor-elect Youngkin to be successful, he must reject this ideology that any problem existing in education must be due to race and racism, and that any solution must be confined to race-based interventions. Instead, the governor-elect should implement a different approach that will empower parents to choose schools that offers the kind of high-quality teaching faculty, comprehensive curriculum, and culture of excellence that they think is best for their child—regardless of race.
Virginia’s new administration might look to New York City for inspiration when it comes to offering parents more choices. For the last decade, I ran a network of public charter elementary and middle schools in the heart of the South Bronx and Lower East Side of Manhattan. Currently, I am launching Vertex Partnership Academies, a non-profit charter management organization that will open an International Baccalaureate public charter high school in the Bronx in 2022. According to the NYC Charter School Center, there are 272 Charter Schools in New York City, enrolling 145,000 students. That is 14% of all students in the NYC public school system; 90% of these charter school students are black or Hispanic, and nearly 80% are from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds. These parents are choosing with their feet, selecting schools that use a broad range of interventions—high expectations, accommodations for students with special learning needs, a teaching staff that is diverse in many dimensions, and amazing programs—to achieve excellence in student outcomes. Yet according to its Department of Education, Virginia only has seven public charter schools.
Gov.-elect Youngkin should end the obsession with critical race theory and reject ideas that are inspired by color-bound (versus color-blind) thinking and push for more educational opportunities. Virginia should create more high-quality education options for all students and trust parents to choose the schooling environment that is best for their kids—regardless of the racial makeup of the teaching faculty.
Ian V. Rowe is the Founder & CEO of Vertex Partnership Academies.
*The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Institute for Family Studies.