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Glenn Youngkin Keeps Getting More Popular, As Virginians Want Him to Keep Addressing Education

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) has increasingly found himself in the news, especially recently when it comes to calling on Attorney General Jason Miyares, also a Republican to use his authority to investigate Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) for reportedly withholding merit scholarship notifications until it was too late. Youngkin is once more in the news, as a majority of Virginians support his involvement and want to see him take action on the education issue, among others. This is according to a recently-released poll conducted last month by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.


The poll found that 53 percent of Virginia adults want to see Youngkin intervene on education, as well as inflation and crime when it comes to the 2023 General Assembly session, which will convene next Wednesday, January 11.

Another takeaway from the poll is that a majority of Virginians also overall approve of Youngkin's performance, and it's not even close. Fifty-two percent approve, while just 32 percent disapprove. This is an improvement from the governor's numbers from that same poll in July 2022, when 49 percent of Virginians approved of Youngkin and 38 percent disapproved.

The poll also contains other particularly noteworthy points when it comes to the major issue of education. This is specially in that there is agreement among black respondents and Republicans, which are demographics often not grouped together:

More than 4 in 10 Virginians believe school-aged students in their community are still falling behind their peers in other states in reading and math proficiency. Over 35% of respondents believe school-aged children are on track or ahead in reading and math proficiency compared to their peers in other states. Political affiliation, race and age had the strongest impact on views of educational performance. Republicans, African Americans and those 35-54 years old believe children are falling behind in math and reading, while Democrats, Hispanics and those 18-34 years old think that children are ahead or on track in math and reading proficiency compared to peers in other states.


The poll was conducted December 3-16, 2022 with 807 adult Virginia respondents. The margin of error is at 6.02 percentage points. 

Even before taking office, Youngkin made it an issue on the campaign trail to prioritize education, including when it comes to raising standards. Exit polls from the November 2021 gubernatorial election, during which the governor beat former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), showed that Youngkin handily won on the education issue. On his first day in office, January 15, 2022, Youngkin also issued several executive orders on education.

Sadly, those concerned about education and that school-aged students in the commonwealth are falling behind have reason to be. A press release from the governor's office from late last October pointed to how data from the Nation's Report Card (NAEP) revealed that Virginia saw the largest declines in reading and math in the nation. 

"Since 2017, fourth graders in Virginia suffered the largest declines in reading and math in the nation on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). For the first time in 30 years, Virginia’s 4th grade students have fallen below the national average in reading and are barely above the national average in math. The average scores of the Commonwealth's eighth graders also dropped, with statistically significant declines in both reading and math," the Youngkin press release summarized.


Also included was a statement from the governor. 

"The NAEP results are another loud wake-up call: our nation’s children have experienced catastrophic learning loss, and Virginia’s students are among the hardest hit, he said. "Every parent in Virginia is now acutely aware that when my predecessors lowered educational standards, those lowered expectations were met. Virginia’s children bear the brunt of these misguided decisions. These actions were compounded by keeping children out of school for extended and unnecessary periods. Virginia may lose a generation of children—particularly among our most in need. We are redoubling our Commitment to Virginians, to prevent us from losing a generation, with additional steps to ensure that all children in Virginia have the tools and support structure to get back on track."

The press release reminded that the governor's office released "Our Commitment to Virginia's Children," which emphasizes action items such as:

Action 1: Raise the Floor and the Ceiling 

Action 2: Empower Parents with Emergency Support for Students 

Action 3: Launch Tutoring Partnerships 

Action 4: Hold Ourselves and Our Schools Accountable 

Action 5: Strengthen Virginia’s Teacher Pipeline 

Action 6: Provide Parents, Students, and Teachers with Actionable Information 

Action 7: Challenge School Divisions to Spend Nearly $2 Billion in Remaining Federal K-12 Funds on Learning Recovery


Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears, also a Republican, has likewise made education and improving standards a high priority. A statement of hers doubled down on the demand to raise standards as well as to involve parents. 

"Our children are depending on us to make good choices for their future and that’s why I continue to join with the Governor and parents across the Commonwealth, demanding that our board of education put students first, set high standards, and require accountability from everyone. I fully support Governor Youngkin’s plans to bring a quality public school system back to Virginia," her statement read in part.

On parents rights, she made clear that "I join parents in demanding that parental rights not be abused. Parents have a ‘fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.’ I will continue to work to ensure that every child has options, regardless of zip code, so that they may have a hope and a future!"

Miyares on Wednesday answered that call during a press briefing that not only announced an investigation into TJ for such a reason, but another investigation based on their admission policies. 

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