Youngkin’s Commission to Combat Antisemitism Warns of Rising Incidents, Proposes Beefed-Up Law Enforcement, Education

A commission to combat antisemitism ordered by Governor Glenn Youngkin published its report Monday, describing a rising amount of antisemitic incidents nationally and in Virginia, and recommending 21 steps the governor and the General Assembly could take.

“In recent years, Virginia has had fewer incidents than neighbors in Maryland and DC, but the national trend of increasing antisemitic incidents has not spared Virginia, and some of the most high-profile antisemitic incidents in recent history have occurred in the Commonwealth. Generally, while the Commonwealth has not seen antisemitic assaults take place since 2018, there has been an increased frequency of antisemitic harassment and antisemitic vandalism at levels which have remained constant from 2018 to 2021,” the report states.

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Student Behavioral Problems Top Concern for Virginia Educators

In a survey, Virginia’s school staff rated a rise in student behavior problems the most serious problem they’re facing. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) conducted the survey as part of a study of the impact of COVID-19 on K-12 education.

“The pandemic was an unprecedented disruption for K through 12 students and staff, ” JLARC Chief Legislative Analyst Joe McMahon told a General Assembly committee on Monday. “As students returned to in-person learning, chronic absenteeism, classroom behavior, and reported mental health issues have worsened.”

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Gov. Glenn Youngkin and U.S Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona Disagree on Reason for Low Student Test Scores

RICHMOND, Virginia — Virginia’s scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are “catastrophic,” Governor Glenn Youngkin said in a press conference Monday morning, hours after the NAEP scores were released. Nationally, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release the scores are “appalling.” Virginia’s Republican education administration blamed the Commonwealth’s scores on Democratic policy under previous administrations predating COVID-19, while Cardona said the national results are “a reminder of the impact that this pandemic has had on our learners.”

“Today’s data release is a clear and heart-wrenching statement that Virginia is failing her students,” Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera said at the conference, and said the results are not a surprise. “Recent date from the ACT, SOLs [Standards of Learning], from the PALS data, and today’s catastrophic decline in Virginia’s NAEP scores are a predictable outcome of the decade-long systemic dismantling of a foundational commitment to excellence in education.”

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First Lady Youngkin Presents Spirit of Virginia Award to An Achievable Dream

First Lady Suzanne Youngkin presented the Spirit of Virginia Award to An Achievable Dream, an organization that partners with the Newport News, Virginia Beach, and Henrico school districts to operate six schools serving 2,000 students in total.

“Education is a critical component of opportunity for all and An Achievable Dream’s approach to caring for the whole student, supporting families, and setting high standards is unparalleled,” Youngkin said in a Wednesday press release. “When we honor Virginians who are changing lives for the better, we need look no further than the administrators and teachers in these schools.”

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Youngkin Signs Executive Order Focused on Teacher Shortage, Launches Pilot Program Centered Around Student Learning Loss

Governor Glenn Youngkin signed his third executive directive as part of an announcement of his administration’s efforts to address teacher shortages; at the same event in Stafford County, Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera announced the Bridging the Gap Initiative, aimed at addressing learning losses.

“So when we have a shortage of teachers and we’re trying to bridge the gap, we’ve got to work extra hard in order to close the gap of teachers as well,” Youngkin said, emphasizing the importance of in-person learning within the context of learning losses.

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Virginia Student Assessments Show Improvement but Still Below Pre-COVID Levels

Standards of learning tests (SOL) for the 2021-2022 school year show improvement across most subjects from the previous academic year, but the administration is warning that there’s still an achievement gap compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. In a virtual press conference Thursday, Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) officials said that gap shows the impact of virtual learning.

“The research is becoming clearer and clearer: students whose schools were closed for in-person instruction suffered the most. Being in person for school matters,” ¬†Superintendent of Public Education Jillian Balow said.

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Youngkin Speaks at First Board of Education Meeting with Majority Youngkin-Appointed Members, Board Advances Lab Schools Planning

RICHMOND, Virginia – Governor Glenn Youngkin and First Lady Suzanne Youngkin made an unannounced appearance at the Virginia Board of Education meeting Wednesday, the first board meeting held with a majority of Youngkin-appointed members. The board is considering how to implement changes required by laws passed by the General Assembly while considering the administration’s priorities, including how to move forward with lab school expansion.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in the first seven months that I hope gives this group a great foundation. At the heart of it, the budget that I had the great privilege of signing this past June was exactly the budget that I think collectively, on a bipartisan basis, we hoped for in education. The largest education budget in the history of Virginia. An extraordinary investment in Virginia’s children. A ten percent raise for teachers. A thousand-dollar bonus. A $1.25 billion dollar capital foundation that supports well over $3 billion of investments into our schools, into the facilities themselves,” Youngkin said in remarks delivered to the board.

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After Texas Shooting, Virginia Gov. Youngkin Gets School Safety Briefings, Calls for More Money for School Resource Officers

Governor Glenn Youngkin met with three of his cabinet members on Wednesday after a mass shooter killed children on Tuesday at a Texas elementary school.

“This morning, Governor Youngkin received a briefing from Secretary Robert Mosier, Secretary Aimee Guidera, Secretary John Littel, and State Superintendent Jillian Balow about actions taken to protect children in schools and the resources available at the state level to provide mental health access as needed in response to yesterday’s tragedy in Uvalde, TX,” spokesperson Macaulay Porter said in a statement.

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Youngkin and Virginia Department of Education Release Report on Virginia’s Achievement Gaps

RICHMOND, Virginia – Governor Glenn Youngkin’s education administration released a report on the heading of Virginia’s education. The release of the report is a major moment for Youngkin, who came to power riding a wave of parental frustration with education.

“Today is a moment in time for all of us to recognize we must change direction,” Youngkin said in the press conference. “We are not serving all of Virginia’s children and we must. We want to be the best in education. We should be the best in education. And the data that was compiled ans shared with you today suggests that we have a lot of work to do to be the best.”

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