Youngkin Takes Office, Moves to 'Remove Politics From the Classroom'

Virginia Republican moves to end CRT in Virginia schools

Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin
Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin / Getty Images
January 15, 2022

RICHMOND, Va.—Moments after pledging to "remove politics from the classroom," Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin (R.) issued an executive order to end "the use of divisive concepts, including critical race theory" from public schools.

Youngkin was sworn in as the state’s 74th governor Saturday, roughly two months after he became the first Republican to win statewide in Virginia in more than a decade. He wasted no time addressing his campaign pledge to ban critical race theory—one of his nine day-one executive orders aims to "restore excellence in education" by ensuring CRT is not taught in public Virginia classrooms.

"We will remove politics from the classroom and re-focus on essential math, science and reading," Youngkin said to widespread applause during his inauguration address. "And we will teach all of our history, the good and the bad."

Youngkin campaigned heavily on critical race theory backlash, particularly in Virginia’s deep-blue northern suburbs. The strategy helped the Republican erode Democratic gains among affluent white voters—in Loudoun County, for example, Youngkin improved on former president Donald Trump’s 2020 vote margin by 15 points.

Youngkin’s inauguration speech also centered on public safety, another pillar of his campaign against Democratic challenger Terry McAuliffe. The Republican pledged to "restore safety by fully funding law enforcement" and deliver "higher salaries, better training, [and] investments in equipment" for police officers.

"Like so many, I’m troubled by the recent attacks on our police. The vast, vast majority of these heroes perform an incredibly challenging and dangerous job with extraordinary professionalism," Youngkin said Saturday. "As governor, we will return respect to the men and women who wear the uniform all law enforcement officers, corrections officers, and first responders who take an oath to keep us all safe."

In addition to his anti-CRT executive order, Youngkin signed measures to "declare Virginia open for business" and "allow parents to make decisions on whether their child wears a mask in school."

Youngkin will have plenty of allies in Richmond as he looks to enact his agenda in the coming months. Republicans officially assumed control of the state house on Wednesday, and Youngkin’s statewide running mates—lieutenant governor Winsome Sears (R.) and attorney general Jason Miyares (R.)—were also sworn in Saturday. Sears is the state’s first female lieutenant governor and first black woman to hold statewide office, while Miyares is its first Latino statewide officeholder.