Youngkin admits his new corporate school scheme would take money from public schools


The GOP gubernatorial candidate said the new schools would be 'ventures with local universities and businesses.'

The Republican nominee for governor in Virginia wants to create a series of semi-public "innovation schools" across Virginia, partnering with universities and corporations. On Tuesday, he admitted that these charter schools would mean less money for local school districts.

Glenn Youngkin, appearing at a Zoom "Educators for Youngkin" event, complained that Virginia has only eight charter schools and vowed that as governor he would create more than a hundred of them. His statement was first flagged by the progressive research group American Bridge 21st Century.

He said these schools would be initially funded by the state but would eventually come at the expense of local public education:

And so we called for, right out of the box, 20 what I call "innovation schools." And the reason why they're innovation schools is, yes, they're part of the public school system, but in fact, they're going to be ventures with local universities and businesses. And so we'll defray some of the cost, so it won't take away money directly from the public school system out of the box. Eventually it will — because the student will move with their tuition dollars — but to get started, we wanted to not take money away from the public school systems.

Youngkin's campaign website offers almost no information on this topic or any other issues.

A campaign spokesperson did not address questions about how the schools would be paid for but did opine that, "Terry McAuliffe is lying about Glenn Youngkin's plan to invest in Virginia public schools and rescue students who were left behind by McAuliffe's failures."

Youngkin, a wealthy ex-investment firm executive backed by former President Donald Trump, faces Democratic former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in November's general election.

Studies have found little evidence that charter schools have a positive impact on student achievement, on average.

In previous comments, Youngkin has tried to frame himself as someone who would "restore excellence in Virginia schools." He proposed to do this by raising "standards" and a "rigorous curriculum that would prepare them for the workplace of the future, for the college opportunity of the future."

According to U.S. News & World Report's rankings, Virginia has the 12th best K-12 education system in the United States.

But in April, Youngkin suggested he would not just cut but ultimately eliminate the state's income tax, a major source of education funding in the state. He has also repeatedly attacked Virginia's schools for anti-racism education and for protecting LGBTQ students against discrimination.

"Glenn Youngkin's economic plan would not only drive Virginia's economy into a ditch but would decimate funding for public schools and put Virginia's economy squarely in the ditch Glenn loves to talk about," Renzo Olivari, a McAuliffe campaign spokesperson, said in an email. "His Trumpian plans would blow a massive hole in our budget and lead to drastic cuts to public education and police."

McAuliffe's website lists "quality education" as his top priority. In a detailed plan, he calls for "a record $2 billion" annual investment in public education to "raise teacher pay above the national average for the first time in Virginia history, give every 3 and 4-year-old in need access to pre-k, and get every student online."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.