Youngkin makes education secretary his first cabinet pick

FILE - Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin listens as Gov. Ralph Northam delivers his annual budget forecast to a joint session of the House and Senate budget committees at the Capitol, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Richmond, Va. Youngkin, who made education a centerpiece of his campaign, announced the state's next education secretary Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, making it his first Cabinet secretary pick.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin, who made education a centerpiece of his campaign, announced the state's next education secretary Monday, making it his first Cabinet secretary pick.

The Republican picked education data consultant Aimee Rogstad Guidera, saying she would help “recharge a system that has settled for too long.”

“Aimee will be a critical partner in restoring expectations of excellence; overseeing a record education budget to invest in teachers, facilities and special education; rolling out innovation lab and charter schools; and standing for a curriculum that prepares Virginia’s children for a dynamic future and removes politics from the classroom,” Youngkin said in a statement.

Youngkin emphasized Guidera’s career advocating for data-driven reform, innovation and choice.

“Most importantly, she understands that parents matter, and the best interests of students must come first,” he said in a statement.

In his campaign, Youngkin pledged to boost education funding and focused on culture war fights over school curricula, emphasizing parental rights to make decisions about their children’s education with the slogan, “parents matter.”

“The polls kept telling us that education was the seventh or eighth or ninth most important issue,” Youngkin said at the Republican Governors Association annual meeting last month. “Let me tell you, it is the top issue right now, and Republicans across the country can own this topic.”

Guidera, currently the president of Guidera Strategy, is the founder and former chief executive of the Data Quality Campaign, a national organization advocating for improved quality, accessibility and use of education data to increase student achievement. Guidera started her career working on education policy at the National Governors Association and later served as the director of the National Center for Educational Achievement’s Washington office.

Guidera and her husband moved to Virginia in 1995 and their daughter attended Fairfax County Public Schools, where she served as a classroom volunteer, parent-teacher organization leader and advisory committee member.

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