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Youngkin administration creating new parent-teacher office

Jahd Khalil
Radio IQ

Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration is creating a new office within the Department of Education to provide parents with guidance on how to interact with teachers, he said Friday.

Youngkin was speaking at a forum of Latino business leaders. While speaking mostly about efforts to grow small business and his budget priorities, he told the audience about the new office.

“We're launching, as part of the Department of Education, basically a parents matter office,” he said. “And it's an office that actually is there to work with and for parents.”

What the office does, and what the final name of the office is still being finalized. But a spokesperson did say it would be a parent-teacher partnership center that would create “best practices, guidebooks, and how-tos on how parents can more effectively engage with kids' teachers.”

“This is particularly helpful in minority communities…really how to ask the right questions about what their kids are learning and how they are doing in school. It's about teaching parents how to be a partner with their kids' teacher,” said Rob Damschen, Deputy Communications Director.

Damschen said similar efforts have been successful in states like California, Massachusetts, and Texas and would also consider learning loss during school closures due to COVID-19.

Youngkin said that certain groups of parents need particular support on how to navigate the school system. Some business leaders at the event were concerned with how the education system serves Latino children and prepares them for the workforce.

The formal structure of the office hasn’t been identified yet.

“We just started putting it together inside our Secretariat of Education, so Aimee Guidera is leading it. But [it’s] a real effort to engage with parents and to listen to parents. And it's part of our campaign, we were working on this for the last year,” said Youngkin. “So finding ways to listen and collaborate and open up opportunity is really important. And this is what this is all about.”

Youngkin criticized how the history of racism is taught in Virginia on the campaign trail and garnered significant criticism over an email account he created early in his administration, which would gather parents' reports of materials they deemed objectionable. Education leaders had said it deteriorated trust between parents and teachers.

Youngkin's press secretary, Macaulay Porter, said that this office would not field complaints about curricula and teachers.

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

Jahd Khalil is a reporter and producer in Richmond.
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