Youngkin vows to raise school standards, protect campus free speech in education plan

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Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin on Thursday unveiled an expansive education plan that he said he wants to implement “from Day One” of his new administration in January.

Mr. Youngkin, who narrowly defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Tuesday’s election, said he wants to raise school standards, expand charter schools and raise teachers’ salaries.

The Republican, who has never held public office before, said he is also looking at candidates for the state’s education secretary and superintendent.

“We’ve got a big agenda in education,” Mr. Youngkin said on the Hugh Hewitt show. “I think one of the things that was clear in this campaign is that education is at the forefront of voters’ minds, and it wasn’t a Republican versus Democrat issue. It was a universally uniting issue for parents.” 

Mr. Youngkin said he also wants to ensure that First Amendment rights are protected on college campuses and that schools are not fostering cancel culture.

The governor-elect also vowed to fund historically Black colleges and universities in every annual budget, as well as boost spending on special-education programs.

“Virginia’s universities are some of the most respected in the world, and we’re going to continue to make sure that they stand for the ideals that we all embrace. And having our First Amendment rights fully expressed on our university campuses is really important to me,” Mr. Youngkin said.

Mr. Youngkin defeated Mr. McAuliffe by about 2 percentage points on Tuesday. The Republican focused on education issues, including eradicating critical race theory curriculum in schools, in his campaign.

In the latter months of the campaign, Mr. Youngkin weaponized Mr. McAuliffe’s comments at their final debate, where the Democrat said parents should have limited say in public schools.

In his interview, Mr. Youngkin said the main goal of his education plan is to foster a system in which students can be fully prepared to enter the working world.

“We saw support across every minority group, and it was around education for our children,” Mr. Youngkin said. “What we expressed on our campaign was a real agenda to get politics out of the classroom and work on educating children to be ready for life – college ready or career ready with a curriculum that actually allows them to excel and run as fast as they can.”

Mr. Youngkin’s victory was joined by Republican Lt. Gov-elect Winsome Sears, who will be the first woman of color to hold the office.

Republican Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares will replace incumbent Democrat Mark Herring.

Inauguration Day is Jan. 15.

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