A Guide to Governor Youngkin’s Plans for his Tenure

Jessica Lin, Staff Writer

With Glenn Youngkin (R) being elected the new Governor, Virginia goes from a state thought of as blue, to purple.

Photo courtesy of Governor Youngkin’s Instagram account.

On Younkin’s first day as Governor he started out with nine executive orders and two executive directives.  

Banning critical race theory, announcing masks are optional, investigation of sexual assault in Loudoun county, and combat against anti-Semitism are several out of the nine executive orders that could effect students at Woodson. 

Youngkin’s first executive order plans to get rid of “divisive concepts” taught in schools addressed in executive order number one. History teacher Mr. Kevin Wright explains how misunderstanding can often make discussion of critical race theory difficult. Wright says “…it becomes more of a catch phrase for talking about racial issues. While we talk about this topic, oftentimes someone might be arguing or looking at a term in a fully different way. 

“We may be using the same terminology we are talking about different things, making any form of understanding much more difficult,” Wright adds.

Wright explains critical race theory as “[A] notion that, especially when we are looking at history or sociology, societal interactions, that race has played a significant factor in this and we have to be able to recognize it and see it. See how race has created systems of interactions and calling that to light to get to a place where we can ultimately truly be color blind.”

Graphic by Zainab Rentia.

Wright continues, “From a more policy perspective, it’s hard not to see this as a political solution for a societal issue. I would go even farther to say there is not a teacher in Woodson that is actually teaching critical race theory, which gets to the difficulty of what this conversation is really about.” Wright explains that another issue with the ban on critical race theory is that the topic itself is more of a way to present history as opposed to a class. As critical race theory is not a specific class taught in Woodson, Wright says a possible consequence is the restriction this could put on what students learn in Virginia. 

He explains that what makes him cautious about this executive order is that it is a step towards restricting education.

He says that “from the starting point of First Amendment type of ideas, it’s a real bad idea.” Wright says that if we go to such lengths because some people feel uncomfortable, where would we draw the line with our educational system?

Wright says, “There are some uncomfortable realities in history, and the only way we move forward as a society is to recognize where we’ve been and the full effect of that. If we completely ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist, it just continues.”

Despite Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, Youngkin’s executive order number two says it is now up to parents whether they want their children to wear masks. This executive order is controversial as it goes against the state law put in place by former Governor Northam requiring masks for all K-12 in public indoor areas.  

Graph by Zainab Rentia.

In an Instagram poll asking students’ opinions on masking, students voted 91-15 for keeping masks even if the mask mandate in the state and schools were lifted.

Regarding wearing masks, Junior Ariana Nafisi says “[she sees] it more as a way to protect others…I feel threatened because some people already don’t wear masks properly, and COVID-19 cases have been spiking. It’s all preventable,” adds Nafisi. 

While schools have been reporting that they plan to stay open for students, especially special education students, teachers have been preparing students on how to use Zoom. One thing Nafisi doesn’t look forward to with the impending return to virtual school is due dates at 11:59 pm. When assignments are not due at night and instead during the day in class, Nafisi finds she sleeps better while completing assignments. 

Instead of seeing masks as a hindrance, Senior Harkiran Singh opts to see it as a responsibility. Singh says “I believe this is our civic responsibility to wear masks around each other.” Wearing masks also serves as a reminder to avoid touching your face, especially during flu season Singh says. As a tutor at the Math Center in Woodson, Singh says students have fallen behind in math with virtual learning and hopes that online school can be prevented as much as possible.  

Executive order number four addresses a recent case of sexual assault in Loudon County. The case in Loudoun County was between two students. The student’s actions were then allegedly covered up and the student simply transferred to another school. The accused student then assaulted another student at the new school. Youngkin’s executive order number four says the school administrators will be held responsible in this particular case. 

Photo courtesy of Pixaby.

Executive order number eight says that Youngkin plans to fight against anti-Semitism in Virginia. Younkin’s executive order has identified this issue and in response he has ordered a committee of those experienced and knowledgeable about antisemitism in Virginia to study past incidents and to make improvement. Those a part of the committee would include faith leaders, scholars, and experts etc. 

Finally, Youngkin says he plans to make tax cuts such as the grocery, gas and state income taxes. While he expresses the desire to fund charter schools more, his plan means less funding for public schools.