Youngkin bans the word ‘equity’ in most educational resources

Youngkin replaced the word "equity" with "opportunity" in his top diversity officer's job title

Glenn Youngkin is sticking to his campaign promises and killing the word “equity” in Virginia. The Republican governor has removed that one word from education-related systems.

Youngkin ran for governor, and won, on a platform that courted conservative voters inflamed by Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRT is an academic concept that says race is a social construct and racism is systematically embedded in social institutions. Educators in Virginia say CRT is not taught on the K-12 level

Across the country, predominately white conservative voters flooded school board meetings to protest the teaching of “divisive concepts” like systematic racism. In many cases, they claimed these concepts made their white children feel bad about, and be blamed for, past racism.

Youngkin promised that, if elected, he would move to ban such “divisive” concepts. And while he has yet to explain why the word “equity” might be divisive, he and his team have pushed to make the change.

He unilaterally changed official references of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” to “Diversity, Opportunity and Inclusion,” even though his legislature rejected the change. This resulted in a change to the job title of VA’s top diversity officer, Angela Sailor.

The terms “resource equity,” and “responsibility to advance racial, social and economic equity” are also gone from all education systems, the Washington Post reported.

Going beyond the word itself, his state department of education has gutted just about every equity initiative claiming that such initiatives are “divisive.” 

In an interim report, the state’s superintendent for public instruction claimed all of the resources on the EdEquityVA promoted divisive concepts. 

EdEquityVA is defined by our commitment to eliminating the predictability of student outcomes based on race, gender, zip code, ability, socio-economic status, and/or languages spoken at home,” according to its website. 

Equity denotes fairness and justice and tries “to understand and give people what they need to enjoy full, healthy lives,” according to the Anne E. Casey Foundation. Systematic equity, the foundation says, seeks “to create, support and sustain social justice.”

Don L. Scott Jr., a member of the Virginia legislature, bemoaned Youngkin’s actions. 

“Now, because of politics, he’s made that word one of his words to take out,” Scott told the Post. “He’s abandoning equity. And I think that’s really, really sad. He’s gone so far to the right on that issue — and he’s a smart guy, so he knows what he’s doing because he knows all about equity in the corporate world.”

Glenn Youngkin
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin gives the inaugural address after being sworn in as the 74th governor of Virginia on the steps of the State Capitol on January 15, 2022 in Richmond, Virginia. Youngkin, who once served as co-CEO of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group, is the first Republican Governor elected to govern the Virginian commonwealth since 2009. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Ironically, Youngkin served as the co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, and the word equity didn’t seem to bother him then. He and his co-CEO sent out a strongly worded statement in May 2020 condemning racism and vowing to support groups focused on equity.

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