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June 8, 2017

Where do the Gubernatorial Candidates Stand: A Guide to Recent Education Proposals in Virginia

We’re just days away from the primary elections for Governor on Tuesday. Each of the candidates has released a platform for how they plan to improve educational opportunities in Virginia. We have collected these positions from the campaign websites and news releases and listed them here as a resource. This list may not be comprehensive, so please check out the links to the campaign websites for further details.

Education Proposals from Gubernatorial Campaigns

The Gillespie campaign pledges to channel more funding into the classroom, reform the state Standards of Learning (SOLs), and change how student progress is measured. His campaign also says it will “tackle the challenge of failing schools.” Gillespie has expressed support for expanding the number of public charter schools in Virginia and for creating parental choice educational savings accounts, which would set up payments to families who forgo public education for their children. In higher education, he has stated that he will provide direction for each university’s board of visitors to hold down costs to make college more affordable.

As their top educational priority, the Northam campaign calls for expanding early education to every Virginia public school student. Northam also supports increasing teacher pay, revising the state SOLs, investing in STEAM and computer science curriculum, and implementing practices intended to reduce the number of students expelled and suspended. The campaign introduced an initiative they are calling G3: Get Skilled – Get a Job – Give Back. This initiative offers “last-dollar” tuition and fees for Virginians pursuing an associate degree or workforce credential in certain industries if the individual commits to one year of public service upon completion. As a lawmaker, Northam voted against parental choice educational savings accounts.

The Perriello campaign promises to prioritize investments in education in the budget, focusing on under-resourced schools. He has pledged to increase teacher pay, fund universal preK statewide, and offer debt-free vocational training, apprenticeships, and community college for a minimum of two years. The campaign also calls for revising the state’s K-12 funding formula called the Standards of Quality, revising the SOLs, developing new accountability measures, and re-establishing the Virginia Student Loan Authority. Perriello has also committed to vetoing legislation creating private school vouchers.

The Stewart campaign stresses the importance of parental control of their children’s education and expanding parental choices, including private school vouchers.

The Wagner campaign supports career and technical education and apprenticeship programs that can lead to industry credentials as alternative paths for students. He has also voiced support for homeschooled students and as a lawmaker voted in favor of creating parental choice educational savings accounts. In higher education, Wagner has called for freezing tuition and fees for all Virginia public colleges and universities citing large increases at several institutions. He stated the state should “stop balancing the budget on the backs of Virginia’s college students.”


Chris Duncombe

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