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Youngkin lays out priorities to General Assembly

Youngkin Address 1.18
Michael Pope
Governor Glenn Youngkin addresses a joint session of the General Assembly Monday afternoon.

Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin campaigned on the issue of banning critical race theory from Virginia classrooms. Even though it's a law school concept that's not taught in Virginia classrooms, the issue resonated with voters. Now he has got a mandate to take action.

Appearing before a joint session of the House and Senate Monday, he told lawmakers parents want children to be taught how to think, not what to think. "And that's why I signed a directive yesterday, an executive order formalizing that we should not use inherently divisive concepts in schools, including critical race theory and why we should not be teaching our children to see everything through a lens of race."

"If you don't want the truth taught, just say that's what you don't want," Senator Mamie Locke said afterward. Locke is a Democrat from Hampton. "If you are going to stand there and say you want to teach the good, the bad and the ugly of Virginia history and then sign an executive order saying we are going to ban critical race theory, you're being a hypocrite."

Education is at the top of the agenda for the new governor, who also says he wants to invest $150 million to start 20 new charter schools.

He also pledged to lower taxes, and make government more responsive, more efficient and more transparent. "In order for our government to work for the people, we must also reform the institutions of government that fail to serve the people," Youngkin told legislators. "I'll admit I've never run a government agency. But I do know something about running a business, and we're going to business efficiency to government bureaucracy."

Click here to read his full address

Youngkin said he'll start by making reforms to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Employment Commission, two state agencies that received heavy criticism for their performance during the pandemic.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.