Announcing his selection of Aimee Rogstad Guidera as education secretary, Mr. Youngkin cited her work in “advocating for innovation and choice, data-driven reform, and high standards.” Ms. Guidera is a national expert on the use of data in education policy. She headed up the Guidera Strategy consulting firm and is the founder and former leader of the Data Quality Campaign, a national nonprofit that advocates using data to shape education. Time magazine named her as one of its “12 Education Activists for 2012.” “This is a really good choice,” tweetedAndrew Rotherham, an educational reform activist with Bellwether Education Partners, when Ms. Guidera’s selection was announced last month. It signaled, he wrote, that Mr. Youngkin “wants to get something done substantively on education.”
Mr. Youngkin’s other top education appointments — Jillian Balow, superintendent of Wyoming’s public schools, as Virginia schools superintendent, and Elizabeth Schultz, a senior fellow with Parents Defending Education, as Ms. Balow’s deputy — seem to be more ideologically driven. While on the Fairfax County School Board, Ms. Schultz opposed a nondiscrimination policy against transgender students and railed against the decision to rename a high school named for a Confederate general. Both Ms. Balow and Ms. Schultz are outspoken critics of critical race theory, an academic framework used in higher education but not K-12 that examines how policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism. That Republicans have weaponized this phantom issue to rally their base diverts attention from the critical issues facing schools today.
Story continues below advertisement
We hope Mr. Youngkin’s selection of Ms. Guidera shows a seriousness of purpose in addressing the deficiencies in public education, which too often negatively affect students who are poor, Black and at risk. Mr. Youngkin’s politically driven executive order forbidding the teaching of “inherently divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory,” was misguided, but it is noteworthy that it also included a directive that the state schools superintendent produce a report within 90 days on the status of efforts to close the achievement gap between minority students and their peers.
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results