Virginia Republicans, in Need of a Public Education Strategy for the Fall Elections, Should look to Florida

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia still supports in law the pillars of the progressive takeover of public K-12 and higher education.

Our elected Democrats, having made those laws even crazier in 2020 and 2021, resist any efforts to change them even at the margins.

Mystifyingly, Virginia Republicans seem not to have a public education strategy for the fall elections.

They need to look south.

The Washington Post reports that the legislature of the state of Florida, having already proscribed in law some of the more radical progressive educational dogma, is now taking down the pillars of that control in both K-12 and higher education.

It will consider various bills:

  • requiring teachers to use pronouns matching children’s sex as opposed to a gender construct;
  • changing the current Florida law that offers school choice funding subject to income limitations to make it a universally available program;
  • eliminating college majors in gender studies;
  • banning spending on DEI administrative positions and programs not required by federal law;
  • requiring post-tenure reviews at prescribed intervals to evaluate an individual’s continuing contributions to scholarship;
  • strengthening parents’ ability to veto K-12 class materials;
  • extending a ban on teaching about gender and sexuality — from third grade up to eighth grade.

I would have to see the final language of any of the bills to determine my personal support, and am unlikely to back all of them either personally or for Virginia.

But the strategy is right.

They attack the foundations of the progressive strangleholds on public K-12 and higher education.

Not shockingly, The Post reports that:

The legislation has already drawn protest from Democratic politicians, education associations, free speech groups and LGBTQ advocates.

One Kenneth Young, who resigned as a law professor at the University of Florida in part because he opposed the Republican education agenda, said of the higher education bills:

It’s a complete takeover of higher education.

No, professor, it’s actually an attempt to return the current system so destructive of the public interest back to serve the people and values of this nation.

Progressives should recognize the takeover strategy, having successfully executed it at every level of public education in Virginia.

Republicans here need to work to end progressive control of education in a much more focused way than they currently exhibit. Or, frankly, have ever exhibited as a group on this issue.

Virginia’s Republican office seekers need to stop nibbling at the edges of progressive control of education, develop a common legislative strategy and run on it statewide.

The Republican right in particular needs to take a breath and join in common cause with centrist Republicans in a strategy that can win on this issue statewide. Common campaign ads on the subject. That sort of thing.

Like a real political party.

Ask Governor Youngkin.