Posted on June 3, 2022

Youngkin Is Right: Lowering Standards in the Name of Equity Harms Minorities the Most

Washington Examiner, May 29, 2022

While his 2021 Democratic opponent was busy trying to distract voters by constantly talking about former President Donald Trump, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin was focused like a laser on the most important issue for millions of Virginians: education. {snip}

Youngkin immediately followed up on his promise to fix Virginia schools with Executive Order One, which among other items, directed Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction to issue a report on the achievement gap between demographics in the public school system.

Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow released that report last week. It is a damning indictment of the last six years of education policy in the Old Dominion.

Virginia used to have one of the best school systems in the nation, with the state’s student Advanced Placement achievement ranking third nationally. That number has since fallen to ninth, beginning with when the state began watering down its Standards of Learning tests in 2015.

The numbers for 2021 have not been released, but between 2015 and 2019, the fourth-grade reading proficiency on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test fell from 43% in 2015 to 38% in 2019. Those losses are sure to have grown during the teachers union-led shutdowns of 2020. According to one recent study of 11 states, of which Virginia had the lowest in-person school rate studied, Virginia had the greatest decline in state achievement pass rates.

Not only were black and Hispanic achievement rates far behind that of Asian and white NAEP achievement rates in 2019, but studies have shown that black and Hispanic schools were the most likely to have the fewest in-person school days, and those schools with the lowest amount of in-person learning also suffered the greatest amount of learning loss.