On December 9, former Democratic Governor, Terry McAuliffe, announced that he will be seeking a second term in 2021. Despite a lackluster record on education, McAuliffe has decided to make education a primary issue of his campaign.
Seeking a symbolic location to make his announcement, he chose a Richmond elementary school — which, ironically, is closed.
While children are struggling to learn virtually, while parents are being forced to choose between childcare and work, while disadvantaged youth are getting left even further behind, Terry McAuliffe had the audacity to stand in front of a school — which he is content remaining closed — to tell people he cares about education.
Even more laughable than the irony surrounding the launch of his candidacy is his shoddy record on education. Unlike practically every Virginia gubernatorial candidate in history, McAuliffe actually had four years to do something to improve education — so why is he choosing now to do something about it? Likely because he failed to deliver results when he had the opportunity.
Under McAuliffe’s leadership, he raised teacher pay only once in four years. Upon him leaving office, the Republican-led General Assembly raised teacher pay twice, before Democrats took power. Terry McAuliffe is late to the game on giving teachers the higher wages they deserve.
It was also under his leadership that college tuition costs continued to skyrocket, until House Republicans passed a statewide tuition freeze in 2019. Then-Speaker, and current Republican candidate for Governor, Kirk Cox, already made these issues a priority over a year ago.
“The future of education in the Commonwealth of Virginia cannot be left to chance,” Cox said at the inaugural ChamberRVA Education Summit. “These two goals – freezing tuition and raising teacher pay – represent the kind of targeted, but significant investments that I think we need to make in our Commonwealth’s system of education.”
It was Republicans too that forced McAuliffe’s hand to make meaningful investments in Virginia’s education system. Every single year during his time in the Executive Mansion, Republicans had to increase the level of education funding that Terry McAuliffe initially recommended.
“The best thing Terry McAuliffe ever did for our schools was to get out of the way and sign Republican budgets that made significant investments in education,” said Garren Shipley, a spokesman for House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert.
Whether education was the hot button issue McAuliffe randomly drew out of a hat before launching his candidacy, or if he is simply using this topic to avoid answering to the far-left wing of his party, one thing is clear: Terry McAuliffe did nothing for education his first time around, and we should not expect anything different this time.