Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin appointed his first cabinet member on Monday, announcing that education data consultant Aimee Guidera would be his choice for education secretary.
Guidera has extensive experience in educational advocacy and policy and has had children in Fairfax County Public Schools.
After making education a centerpiece of his campaign, Youngkin said in a statement that Guidera will advocate for “data-driven reform” and ensure children learn “how to think, not what to think. “.
News4 sat down with Youngkin on Monday as he visited The Lamb Center, a shelter in Fairfax for the homeless. He called for innovation in education.
âThis is the time for us to absolutely innovate in public school systems, to innovate especially in our K to 12, to start,â he said.
Guidera founded a nonprofit called the Data Quality Campaign that focuses on collecting data and sharing public education.
Youngkin says Guidera will restore the high expectations of Virginia schools.
âWhat we’ve seen in Virginia over the past eight years is a degradation of standards and expectations and, as a result, a drop in test scores,â he said.
State Learning Standards (SOL) scores have fallen over the past eight years.
While Guidera was in the data quality campaign, his team released a report outlining how to measure success in socio-emotional learning, rather than by test scores exclusively.
The organization, which Guidera left in 2018, also has an entire section devoted to equity, claiming that “students of color have faced inequalities in their treatment and opportunities to learn.”
Youngkin campaigned in part to ban Critical Race Theory, a subject not taught in Virginia schools.
âThere is a big difference between understanding where we came from and who we are and pitting children against each other,â Youngkin said.
News4 asked if this was happening.
“It’s happening,” Youngkin replied.
Critical race theory aside, one of the biggest changes Youngkin foresees is the expansion of public charter schools. Virginia currently has seven; Youngkin wants to open 20 more in his first year, saying it gives parents the voice they deserve in their children’s education.
The top Republican in the Virginia House of Delegates backs Guidera.
âSecretary-designate Guidera has the kind of experience parents have said they want in our direction of education,â Del said. Todd Gilbert.
During his campaign, Youngkin pledged to increase funding for education and focused on cultural warfare fights over school curricula, emphasizing the rights of parents to make decisions about l education of their children with the slogan “parents matter”.
“The polls kept telling us that education was the seventh, eighth or ninth most important issue,” Youngkin said at the Republican Governors Association annual meeting last month. âLet me tell you, this is the main issue right now, and Republicans across the country can make it their own. “
The Associated Press contributed reporting.