Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) called a Republican effort to change the state’s school finance formula “a racist dog whistle” during a Monday afternoon press conference in Richmond.
The proposal — proposed by a state Senate panel, put forth by GOP lawmakers and supported by Democrats — would use the standards administered under the federally set Common Core curriculum to calculate how much local districts should be paid for providing services to students who attend public schools.
Republicans argue that the change is needed to end an unconstitutional state funding formula for school districts statewide that guarantees government funds to all schools regardless of whether a student is sufficiently educated.
McAuliffe brushed aside previous criticisms of the proposed formula and called its purpose “extremely neutral,” during a press conference in Richmond.
“It’s really the strategy of a white Republican group that attacks every child. There’s nothing about helping children,” McAuliffe said. “This is an attempt to attack Black youth, to attack poor white kids, to attack [students] for being in the public school system.”
McAuliffe also said the way the proposal is phrased, it could potentially affect all Virginia children who “are not the poorest white kids in the world.”
“They’re trying to pull a white guy’s dog whistle to Black kids that their schools aren’t doing right and that that’s how they’re going to take care of them,” McAuliffe said, drawing laughter from reporters.
The Republican House and Senate majorities control the course for Virginia’s education policy — and how much school districts will be paid for their various programs.
This proposal has received significant coverage this fall and is drawing criticism from the Democratic governor. A WDBJ7/NewsChannel 7 report on the effort Friday showed critics calling the proposed change an unfair “attack” on Blacks.
Republican Del. Patricia Thienel (D-Fairfax) said her GOP colleagues using the Common Core curriculum standards as a reason to change the funding formula is “asinine.”
“Common Core is not what’s at issue,” she said. “It’s the substitution of one ideology for another philosophy for one children,” she said.
In response to the governor’s pushback, Del. Steve Landes (R-Augusta) has vowed to conduct hearings on the proposal, saying “nothing could be simpler,” than using the federal standards used for math and English for calculation of state funding.
“It seems to me that I’m waiting on kids all over this commonwealth to come,” McAuliffe said. “Why aren’t we waiting on the kids? They need it and they deserve it.”