BURKE, Va. – Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin promised to bring transparency, accountability, choice, and higher standards to the state's schools, condemning the Loudoun County School Board for allegedly covering up a male student's alleged sexual assault against a female student in a girls' restroom. The male student allegedly assaulted another girl at another school months later.
"A young girl was sexually assaulted in her school, and the administrators, those who were trusted with not only her education but her safety, tried to cover it up," Youngkin declared in his speech at the Burke Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department Tuesday night. "And they quietly moved the offender, an offender being prosecuted for sexual assault, to another school, where he was able to do it again. Two young girls have been sexually assaulted because our system, our system failed to protect them."
"As a Virginian, I'm heartbroken for these girls and their families," Youngkin said. "I'm heartbroken at how their government leaders failed them. As a father, I am ignited with an unwavering resolve to not just fix this but to hold those who have failed our children accountable."
After Loudoun County parents called for the resignation of the superintendent and members of the school board, the superintendent apologized and a board member resigned. Many parents remain unsatisfied.
Youngkin spoke to a crowded room, with hundreds unable to enter due to the capacity limit. Many in the crowd held signs reading "Parents for Youngkin," sending a clear message on education.
Youngkin also attacked the Department of Justice under President Biden, which directed to the FBI to investigate what the Justice Department called a "disturbing trend" of "threats of violence" at school board meetings, seemingly acting on the request of an organization that compared some parents to domestic terrorists.
"Instead of investigating parents, the Department of Justice should be investigating those who have covered up a heinous crime on our students," the Republican declared.
Youngkin laid Virginia's education failures at the hands of his opponent, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who previously served as governor between 2014 and 2018.
"Terry McAuliffe had his chance and he failed," the Republican argued.
Younkin faulted McAuliffe for lowering educational standards, "so he could claim fewer failing schools." Indeed, in 2015, McAuliffe signed a bill ordering a deemphasis on standardized test results in accrediting Virginia public schools. While 88 schools were denied accreditation under the old standards in 2017, no school has been denied accreditation since the new standards went into effect in 2018.
He cited horrific stats on math and reading, and faulted education bureaucrats for taking instructions from the teachers unions during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping schools closed for longer than they should have been, and causing "unquantifiable learning loss."
Youngkin also hit McAuliffe for his debate remark that "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach." The Republican said McAuliffe had been "exposed" by this comment, which he "spoke from his heart."
The Democrat recently launched an ad claiming that Youngkin had taken that quote out of context, but the Republican's campaign shot back with an ad showing McAuliffe standing by the statement seven times.
Youngkin laid out his education plan.
The Republican promised to address danger in schools by encouraging them to hire school resource officers – and by threatening to withdraw funding if they refused. He also promised that schools would coordinate with law enforcement and that schools would have to report crimes to law enforcement on his watch. He also pledged a full investigation of the Loudoun County School Board.
Youngkin also laid out some central principles: transparency for parents to know what schools are teaching their children; democracy for parents to have the right to say what schools teach; equality in judging people by their character rather than their skin color; investment in teacher pay; excellence in raising standards; and school choice.
He also pledged to ban critical race theory in schools, and to raise standards for all students. He particularly lamented the low success rates of Black and Hispanic students. He also pledged to form a task force of teachers and parents to "expose those areas where politicians have been failing our children."
After Youngkin addressed the crowd inside the fire station, he took a bullhorn and addressed the hundreds outside. Due to the small capacity of the fire station, hundreds stood in line as the Republican spoke, but he rewarded their patience with a brief speech outside.