Buckle up | Richmond Free Press

It didn’t take long for new Governor Glenn A. Youngkin to show us exactly who he is.

Shortly after the pomp and circumstance of the Republican’s swearing-in last Saturday afternoon and his country-themed, cowboy-boot-wearing inaugural party on Saturday night, Governor Youngkin signed nine executive orders and two executive directives that have already spawned a lawsuit and have parents, lawmakers, public school districts and others in an uproar.

And we understand why.

Among other things, its ordinances essentially prohibit the teaching of how racism is embedded in the history of the United States and its laws and institutions; repeals a mask mandate in public schools, which was put in place to protect students, teachers and staff from the spread of COVID-19; rescinds the mandate that all state employees and those of public colleges and universities must be vaccinated against the coronavirus; and replaces all current members of the Virginia Parole Board with its own appointees. He said former members released inmates who had been denied parole or deemed ineligible for parole, raising “questions about the legality of abrupt reversals of such decisions”.

Never mind that Governor Youngkin tried to portray himself in his inaugural address as someone who wanted to work in the spirit of bipartisanship for the good of all people in the Commonwealth.

“No matter who you voted for, I pledge to be your advocate, your voice, your governor,” he told the crowd in Capitol Square.

But we don’t put all the stock in what he says. We watch what he does. And his early actions as governor incinerated any notion of bipartisanship.

The executive orders he immediately drafted were like red meat tossed at his supporters in the stands on Saturday – a largely white, unmasked crowd, who elected the political neophyte and Trump supporter on the basis of his anti -vax, anti-mask and anti-critic Positions of race theory.

If the last days are any indication, the next four years will likely be an epic battle. His actions indicate he is willing to ignore or overturn state law regarding the school mask policy to appease his supporters.

A measure passed by the General Assembly last year requires local school boards to follow measures recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of COVID-19. CDC guidelines recommend masks for anyone age 2 and older in school buildings.

By eliminating mask and vaccine mandates, Governor Youngkin is putting the health of children, teachers, families and workers at risk, allowing personal preferences to trump the scientifically proven protections that masks and vaccines offer. .

Even going so far as to threaten to withhold public school money shows Governor Youngkin cares more about making a political statement than the health and safety of Commonwealth residents.

State hospitals are already overwhelmed by the latest surge in COVID-19 cases due to the highly transmissible omicron variant. According to the latest figures from the state health department, 1 in 3 people tested for the virus are testing positive. These numbers are sure to rise if our best protections against the virus – requiring people to wear masks and be fully vaccinated and fortified – are eliminated.

We are also concerned about the strident message Governor Youngkin is sending with his stance against critical race theory and his appointment of one of his opponents, Angela Sailor, a black conservative, as the new Chief Diversity Officer. Virginia Equity and Inclusion.

In his executive order, Governor Youngkin called the CRT “political indoctrination,” proving he does not understand the concept and cares little about efforts to combat racism and promote fairness and truth. in education.

The CRT, he said in the order, “denies our students the opportunity to learn important facts, background knowledge, form their own opinions and think for themselves. Our children deserve far more from their education than being told what to think.

Governor Youngkin knows that CRT is not taught in public schools. This is a higher level study program. But his executive order shows he is prepared to eliminate from the state’s public education system all lessons, books and programs about the true history of this nation, which has been linked to race since 1619 and the arrival of the first Africans on the shores of Virginia. in Port Comfort not as free citizens, but as slaves.

We have little faith in Governor Youngkin, his administration and his appointees, including the new Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jillian Balow, to offer an honest, fair and comprehensive history of race in this country and its impact. news on current events and politics. . Ms Balow made headlines last year for leading the fight against the CRT in Wyoming, where she was the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The people of Virginia deserve better. People of conscience and goodwill in Virginia must prepare now for the fight of the next four years.

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