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New report suggests Virginia schools are falling behind

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Michael Pope
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Governor ⁦Glenn Youngkin says Virginia’s education system suffers from lowered expectations and a lack of transparency. “That all ends today,” he says.

A new report on the state of Virginia schools shows that gaps are widening and scores are dropping.

"I think we just have a very confusing word in the word equity," Governor Glenn Youngkin said when asked about a new report showing that Virginia schools are falling behind.

Education Secretary Aimee Guidera says equity has been a distraction for the education community during a time when too much focus has been on growth but not enough has been on meeting expectations. "Leaders change definitions," Guidera says. "They lowered expectations, and they reduced the importance of proficiency in determining school quality and accreditation. And they often did this in the name of equity. President Bush used to refer to this as the 'soft bigotry of low expectations.' I call it plain wrong."

But Acting Assistant Superintendent Rosa Atkins says equity is not about lowering expectations.

"Equity is ensuring all learners are safe and welcomed at school, and that no child is discriminated against or taught to discriminate," Atkins explains.

When asked about equity, the governor put it this way.

"We see gaps that are unacceptable, and those gaps persist for all of Virginia students," Youngkin says. "And they're wider for our Black community and our brown community and our socioeconomically disadvantaged communities."

Fixing the problem, he says, will require funding for school facilities, raises for teachers and a new focus on literacy in the early grades, from kindergarten to third grade.

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

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