Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Sunday that Virginians are ready for a new direction and he will get the “politics out” of school instruction while pushing for lower taxes and investments in law enforcement to reduce crime.
Mr. Youngkin, a Republican whose electoral win over Democrat Terry McAuliffe enthused his party last year, signed an executive order on his first day in office Saturday that ends the use of “divisive concepts” in school — an allusion to critical race theory — after he promised voters to give parents more control over their children’s education.
“We are not going to teach our children to view everything through the lens of race,” Mr. Youngkin told “Fox News Sunday” in a wide-ranging interview the day after his inauguration. “We will teach all history, the good and the bad, because we can’t know where we are going unless we know where we have come from.”
The governor said Virginia schools might not offer a course called “critical race theory,” but he wants to eliminate anything that separates or judges people based on the color of their skin. Mr. Youngkin’s critics say he trumped up or inflated the issue for campaign purposes.
Mr. Youngkin also said he will demand accountability after a Loudoun County teenager was charged with sexual assault at two separate high schools last year. He said school officials failed to take an earlier incident seriously and some of them should have resigned by now.
“I do believe that there have been derelictions of duty, so all actions to hold this school board accountable should be taken,” he said.
On COVID-19, Mr. Youngkin said he is a strong advocate for vaccination but was disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a mandate on health care workers. He said the mandate could result in staffing shortages in hospitals while the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads.
He said he has received a vaccine and booster shot but thinks inoculation should be an individual decision.
The governor said he is trying to expand testing in schools so they remain open for in-classroom learning.
Last year, Mr. Youngkin won the governorship by keeping former President Donald Trump at arm’s length while accepting his support and making inroads with minorities and suburban White women who were disaffected by Democratic leadership.
The governor said he gave all Virginians a “great big bear hug” and added that Republicans can win office by following his road map.
“I’ve said before that I deeply appreciated Trump’s support,” Mr. Youngkin said. “We brought together a coalition of folks that had never been in the room together — Forever Trumpers and Never Trumpers, moderates and Democrats.”