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By Amanda Litvinov
Virginia’s race for governor might not be on everyone’s radar just yet, but as one of just two states with a governor’s race this year, it will be in the national spotlight as Election Day comes closer.
Although Republican candidate Ed Gillespie is often characterized as “conventionally conservative,” some of his affiliations and views on education as extremist as they come, aligned with those of radical conservatives who would defund and destroy public education in an effort to privatize it.
Gillespie’s campaign website includes a lengthy education plan that uses confusing and misleading language to mask what is essentially the corporate reform agenda. Looking instead at his record and state views, here’s what we know:
- Gillespie believes Congress should use federal taxpayer dollars to support voucher schemes and strong arm states into expanding charter schools that are not accountable to the public–the very ideas that Betsy DeVos now promotes as Secretary of Education.
- Ed Gillespie received more than $100,000 in donations from the DeVos family.
- Gillespie bashed Terry McAulliffe’s vetoes of bills for charter expansion, vouchers (in the form of “Education Savings Accounts”), and virtual schools. Gillespie stated that he would sign such bills if elected governor.
- Like most corporate reformers, Gillespie is a strong supporter of virtual education.
Gillespie will stoke the fire under supporters of the corporate agenda next week as the keynote speaker at the annual summit of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy organization founded by billionaire David Koch. AFP has poured millions of dollars into supporting the ambitions of politicians who support their radical agenda.
Fortunately, Virginia voters have another choice: public education champion Ralph Northam. A pediatric neurologist and former state senator, Lieutenant Governor Northam has a long history of supporting public education, and is committed to preserving local control of schools by elected school boards.
- Ralph Northam has pledged to uphold Virginia’s strict regulation of charter growth and accountability.
- He plans to invest in the neighborhood public schools that the vast majority of families depend on–he has been clear that he will not consider any charter school proposal that could drain resources from public schools.
- Northam voted against vouchers and charters during his time as a state senator and as lieutenant governor, and even cast the tie-breaking vote this year to defeat voucher legislation.
- Moreover, one of the first bills Northam sponsored when he became a state senator was to find a dedicated revenue stream for teacher salaries.
Stay tuned to EdVotes for updates on this critical election.