Youngkin’s Education Pick Signals Support for Data-Driven Reform

Aimee Guidera

by James A. Bacon

Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin has announced the first major appointment of his incoming administration: Aimee Rogstad Guidera as Secretary of Education.

As founder and former CEO of the Data Quality Campaign, Guidera brings to the table an extensive background in the use of data to inform K-12 educational policy. In making the announcement, Youngkin described Guidera as an advocate for innovation, school choice, data-driven reform, and high standards.

“Aimee will be a critical partner in restoring expectations of excellence; overseeing a record education budget to invest in teachers, facilities and special education; rolling out innovation lab and charter schools; and standing for a curriculum that prepares Virginia’s children for a dynamic future and removes politics from the classroom,” said Youngkin in the announcement.

“She understands that parents matter, and the best interests of students must come first,” said Youngkin, echoing a dominant theme of his electoral campaign. “Her leadership, intellect, and talent will be tremendous assets as we ensure Virginia kids are the best prepared in the country to succeed, and that they are taught how to think, not what to think. She will help us recharge a system that has settled for too long.”

Traditionally, Virginia governors have recruited their education secretaries from within Virginia. The Guidera appointment appears to represent a departure from that practice. Although Guidera has worked in Washington, D.C., in the nonprofit sector, Youngkin made no mention of any experience she might have had with Virginia’s educational system. She graduated from Princeton and has a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard. Her Linked-In profile lists her business, Guidera Strategy, as being located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

A mutual contact describes Guidera as “smart as a whip.” Her focus, he said, is student achievement and teacher accountability.

Guidera stands in marked contrast to Governor Ralph Northam’s selection of Atif Qarni, a Northern Virginia high school teacher. Where Qarni had run unsuccessfully for political office as a Democrat, Guidera’s bio makes no mention of political involvement. Where Qarni was an ideologue who pushed “social justice” in Virginia public schools, Guidera’s data-driven approach suggests that her foremost concern is identifying policies that improve educational outcomes.

The Secretary of Education has two broad areas of responsibility: K-12 education and higher education. I found nothing in Guidera’s background that indicates an expertise in higher-ed. To get a sense of how Youngkin intends to approach higher-ed policy, we may have to wait and see whom he appoints as deputy secretaries of education.

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57 responses to “Youngkin’s Education Pick Signals Support for Data-Driven Reform”

  1. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    About time! Good person. Good choice. I hope she understands she has no control over the State Board mostly appointed by Northam. She has her work cut out. A constitutional amendment for school choice in four years in a very tightly controlled house and senate.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    She’s not an ideologue and she is data driven. Says a lot about Youngkin also IMHO.

    I support school choice as long as those schools have to meet the same demographic and performance standards as public schools, which in a data-driven world should indeed inform everyone. I have no trouble at all with
    state funding going with the kid as long as the school he goes to , will accept any/all demographics, especially the economically disadvantaged AND will report academic results similar to or comparable to the SOls.

    1. killerhertz Avatar

      Why do you care how other people choose to educate their children?

      SOLs are also garbage.

      1. killerhertz Avatar

        Still no answer eh?

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          I care because I help pay for public education which does have standards like SOLs which we don’t have for non-public schools.

          1. killerhertz Avatar

            So? That’s like saying you pay for the military so you have a say in what they do.

            Also, assuming you had children, you presumably already took advantage of the economic benefits of free schooling. I’m paying for public schools and my children aren’t even in them. In VA I can’t even have access to my own labor stolen via taxation.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            yes. it means my tax dollars don’t go to non-public entities to spend.

            And I’m fine with your kids getting public dollars, if the school are as accountable as public schools for their performance.

          3. killerhertz Avatar

            So your position is that standardized testing is what makes schools accountable?

          4. LarrytheG Avatar

            Some kind of testing to ascertain academic performance is necessary IMHO and it’s the thing that anti-public school folks use to impugn public education, so yes.

          5. killerhertz Avatar

            Why not parent satisfaction? I don’t understand the logic frankly. You want the standard to be something that people can’t find common ground with?

          6. LarrytheG Avatar

            The entire purpose of public education is to produce an educated workforce that can provide them with work so they can take care of their own needs and not need entitlements- not parent satisfaction.

            Why do we require attendance? Is that to “satisfy” someone? this is wacadoodle logic IMHO.

            Let me ask you. What do YOU think the PURPOSE, justification of public education in general is? Not just the US but all industrialized countries? Serious question.

          7. killerhertz Avatar

            Indoctrination and control of the serfs. Yes they want good little bitches to work their factories and be good NPCs.

          8. LarrytheG Avatar

            Education that will get you a job in the economy so you can be responsible for yourself and your family.

            You guy oppose the CONCEPT of public education itself, right?

            Would you want no taxes for public education and let every parent suit themselves and “be happy”?

          9. killerhertz Avatar

            Correct. I don’t agree with either the methods or purpose of government controlled schools. I see a lot of damage done by public education, not to mention the massive misallocation of capital on the bureaucracy. Per student Loudon and Fairfax county spend what is equivalent to college tuition. Speaking of which these “educators” produced a generation with a ton of debt and very few usable skills after telling them they had to get a useless college degree. I won’t even get into the DEI and CRT garbage. So yeah, it’s not going so well.

          10. LarrytheG Avatar

            so you are opposed to taxes for public education?

          11. killerhertz Avatar

            Fundamentally I think the less taxation the better. But given we live under a system with a monopoly of force, one could imagine a system where the state could allow the education funding to follow the student. One would still pay taxes, but when they have school age children they could choose how to spend the money, whether homeschool, private, or public. The free market would produce better outcomes.

          12. LarrytheG Avatar

            so you oppose public education as a concept in all countries , but you want everyone to be taxed and then the money given to parents to spend as they see fit for education – and no standards other than if the parent is satisfied?

            is that a fair statement of your view?

          13. killerhertz Avatar

            I just said I don’t want taxation, but otherwise correct. I will always know what’s the best assignment of my capital over the state, which is employees desk jockeys with degrees in gender studies.

          14. LarrytheG Avatar

            … okay.. so opposed to taxation for education to start with but if there is going to be taxation then let parents spend however they wish with no academic standards for any choice including public schools?

          15. killerhertz Avatar

            Academic standards are subjective. Government schools have standards based on a very broken pedagogy that isn’t intended to educate in the best way possible, but ensure uniformity and a basic level of education. It is based on the Prussian model, which promotes authoritarianism and is antithetical to a free society. It also doesn’t optimize for family objectives or suit diverse learning styles. There’s really no counter to this argument.

          16. LarrytheG Avatar

            Is it that way in all public education around the world? Do you think PISA is based on that broken pedagogy for math, language and science?

            So, best case is no taxes and let parents decide what to do with education of their kids?

            Second best is taxes but let parents decide what to spend it on and no academic standards ?

            Do you think your view is fairly representative of many or most Conservatives?

            You would advocate this for the Youngkin administration as a better way forward?

          17. killerhertz Avatar

            I can’t speak to what is taught abroad. Every nation has a unique culture, government, and economy. If you have an industrial, npc culture like China then the authoritarian schooling models probably work well. Our current model was probably fine during the industrial revolution, but it’s antiquated in the information age.

            I can’t speak to what most conservatives believe. I think most probably support public schools because they are free daycare in a sense. Given you almost need 2 incomes to survive, this is understandable.

            It would be great if Youngkin freed money up for parents of school age children. I think you’d see better outcomes in students and higher incomes for educators. The school administrators however would have to find new work.

          18. LarrytheG Avatar

            But they ALL use standardized testing to confirm what is taught and the efficacy of teaching, and most of the other industrialized countries from Germany to Japan do better than us. All of them are top-down govt sanctioned public education.

            re: ” It would be great if Youngkin freed money up for parents of school age children. I think you’d see better outcomes ”

            How would you know if you don’t measure/test and your standard was parent satisfaction?

          19. killerhertz Avatar

            We have a larger, more diverse population compared to Germany, and especially to Japan so it’s not a fair comparison. Besides you are only looking at one metric – standardized tests.

            There are lots of secondary measures. Happiness, standards of living, economic metrics, etc. Conversely we’re seeing dramatic increase in the use of psychotropics for school age children at home in abroad for depression, “hyperactivity”, etc. I know of people who pulled their “problem children” from public schools and put in alternatives and have seen dramatic improvements. They may not be taking SOLs, but they’re not doped up, committing school shootings, or dead by suicide. I call that a win.

          20. LarrytheG Avatar

            I can list ALL the industrialized countries. They ALL use standardized testing for math/, science, and language so they can be compared for performance.

            How can you say “dramatic improvements” if you are not measuring something?

            More than 60% of Fairfax County students go on to college and far less of many other rural schools in Virginia do that. . Is that a “fail”?

            You’re giving individual anecdotal experiences which do not represent the bigger and more accurate picture of the performance of public schools.

            How can we claim anything is better if we don’t measure and compare?
            It just becomes what each person wants to believe, whether it’s actually true or not

            A school/teacher can keep a parent “happy” if there is no measurement of academic performance and anecdotal experiences is the standard.

            Teachers can give A’s all day long to keep the parent happy, no?

          21. killerhertz Avatar

            I already told you there are other ways to measure success. Furthermore your own progressive people advocate abolishing standardized tests for college applications. You are under the impression that some beta bureaucrat in DC or Richmond knows my kids better than me, which is a ridiculous notion.
            You are also arguing that going onto college is a win. This is a boomer era lie. Biden just today had to extend the moratorium on loan repayments because the fresh graduates can’t even pay their loans and the country has record unemployment.
            > How can we claim anything is better if we don’t measure and compare? It just becomes what each person wants to believe, whether it’s actually true or not
            Interestingly the DEI/CRT crowd within the schooling establishment are already objective subjects like STEM, arguing that math is a matter of perspective. Ultimately, you/the state are arguing for metrics they deem important. I don’t everyone has the same perspective on what’s important. Teachers already give A’s to the students that “do the work” in compliance, not necessary based on academic performance. Who doesn’t know someone that got A’s through school and ended up being an abject failure in real life? That’s because schools don’t primarily teach kids to think critically, but to jump through hoops when and where they tell you to. This is the Prussian model.

          22. killerhertz Avatar

            I don’t believe in curricula based on arbitrary age buckets. It’s probably one of the sillier aspects of public education. Expose kids to subjects and if they enjoy it and excel let them pursue further. The conventional method is “do these worksheets you’ll be smarter”, which is stupid af. Every kid learns geometry and algebra in highschool. Outside of STEM who even remembers these concepts? If so, what’s the point of holding everyone to this standard?

          23. LarrytheG Avatar

            does private school do this differently?

          24. killerhertz Avatar

            Some do, like Montessori. The same goes for Sudburry or Steiner pedagogies, but I am not as familiar with those. A lot of alternative schools have different timeframes for introducing subjects, grouping pupils, grading/testing, etc.

          25. LarrytheG Avatar

            That’s almost individual tutoring.. not sure how you do that practically in a cost-effective way and even then, how do you measure success?

            Public education came into being to start with because those who were not rich could not afford tutoring. Public education is where the middle class came from.

            You might be advocating something that is not affordable for those
            who are not rich.

          26. killerhertz Avatar

            No. My children have classes sizes of ~20 with a teacher and assistant. Teachers give 1-1 time and generally a lot of the education is self-directed.

            I guess we’ll have to disagree on why public education was introduced. Public education came to pass as an instrument of state control. There was a reason that politicians found against funding for parochial schools a century ago. Horace Mann is a good example of the beginning of public education in Mass.

          27. killerhertz Avatar

            Also my 2nd grader is already doing long division, which speaks to how arbitrary these curricula are.

          28. John Martin Avatar
            John Martin

            oh shut up

          29. killerhertz Avatar

            How about no

          30. John Martin Avatar
            John Martin

            that testing is courtesy of the gop, you know

          31. killerhertz Avatar


          32. John Martin Avatar
            John Martin

            grow up

      2. John Martin Avatar
        John Martin

        do whatever you damn please. Tax dollars stay with public schools

  3. Super Brain Avatar
    Super Brain

    Youngkin got where he is by being data driven. Lots more opportunities for data driven reform including customer service esp at Dept of Taxation.

  4. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Omigosh! By BR standards, this appointee has to be watched carefully for she is a product of those traditionally “leftist” institutions, Princeton and Harvard.

    To be clear, I was always puzzled by Northam’s appointment of Atif Qarni, and I was never impressed with his performance.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      yeah, I’m thinking this appointment is probably a disappointment to the hardliners.

    2. how_it_works Avatar

      Not only that, she appears to be a come-here from the North. (Shudders…)

    3. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      MTG was busy. I always think of two words at times like these: David — as in King of Bible fame, and Souter, as in David Souter.

    4. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Now we need a new state superintendent with a strong hands-on history within classrooms and local school management. It is the pair that matters and how they work together. Ideas + implementation.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Ideas? So you want a Democrat? If you want new knowledge, ask new questions.

      2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        The current superintendent has that background.

  5. Baconator with extra cheese Avatar
    Baconator with extra cheese

    I have a funny feeling the activist educators (like RVA’s School Board) will quickly label her a “Karen”.
    Godspeed and good luck lady. You’re going to need it.
    Oh, and data is whiteness. No place for whiteness is today’s public schools.

    1. killerhertz Avatar

      Spot on. Non-whites HAVE to make decisions based on lived experiences. War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.

  6. disqus_VYLI8FviCA Avatar

    “smart as a whip”…that’s already an upgrade from the current administration.

  7. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Good luck to Aimee. I found this nice graphic from Aimmee’s company website. It illustrates what is coming to Richmond in terms of education policy. I am a skeptic. I have been thru endless data driven sessions as a school teacher. It is all meaningless without action and follow thru. Her ideas do look good on paper though.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      There’s already quite a big of data so your point is dead on.

      So this lady does not, at first blush, look like a policy wonk.

      And it will be interesting to see if she agrees with Conservatives who assert that the current data, like SOLs and discipline data, show that public education in Virginia is a failure.

      Is she that person?

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        It could be a positive course. What Aimee offers is data that can help a student and their family make the difficult cross roads decisions in one’s education path.

  8. John Martin Avatar
    John Martin

    no money fpr charters. This person mught be good but she will never be as good at teaching first grade as my wife is…… or not

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