Thursday, March 10 — The organization of Virginia’s 133 school superintendents issued a letter to Gov. Youngkin’s office today assailing decisions the governor made contained in his Executive Order 1 on key issues of public education, including against a 30-day report on the impact of the order issued to the governor’s office pertaining to the impact of the policies. The News-Press was provided a copy of the letter from Howard Kiser, executive director of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS), to Virginia Department of Education Superintendent Jillian Balow on behalf of the 133 superintendents by Falls Church School Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan today. The letter was in response to a meeting Tuesday between Balow and VASS representatives. The letter spelled out seven areas of disagreements the superintendents had with the way Executive Order 1 was carried out and characterized by Balow. Those areas were outlined as follows:
- Division superintendents and other stakeholder groups should have been consulted prior to the development of the 30-day report.
- Division superintendents disagree with your having rescinded much of the Ed Equity work by the Department of Education. This work had been completed by many quality educators over a number of years to provide support for the success of children in underserved communities and in select population groups.
- Division superintendents disagree with your assumption that discriminatory and divisive concepts have become widespread in Virginia school divisions without your having involved educators in formulating that position or without having provided evidence to support that position.
- Division superintendents disagree with your using “equitable outcomes” as the basis for determining what divisive concepts are and unilaterally suggesting that this approach is discriminatory.
- Virginia’s public education system has consistently ranked as one of the best throughout the country in expectations and in student outcomes.
- Your use of “equitable opportunities” in lieu of “equitable outcomes,” without considering those factors that impact student achievement in underserved communities, can set public education in Virginia back many years. Quality education in Virginia has to be more than providing opportunities and hoping for the best. Virginia’s accountability system relies heavily on student outcomes, not opportunities.
- Division superintendents disagree with the administration’s goal of “restoring excellence” in Virginia’s public schools, since that implies an inaccurate assessment of Virginia’s public education system currently and historically. Again, by most measures, Virginia ranks near the top and surpasses most states throughout the country.