Like a lot of public school educators in VIrginia, I have been eagerly awaiting the announcement of Governor-Elect Terry McAuliffe’s choice for Secretary of Education. There were many good people from which to choose, I know, but of all the folks I had considered possible candidates for the post, I admit, I hadn’t even considered Anne Holton in the mix. She is, after all, an attorney and a former judge rather than a K-12 teacher or professor from higher education. But the minute I heard the news of her appointment this morning, I was struck by the brilliance in making her the new Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth. In addition to being an attorney in her previous life, she was also a Judge for the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in Richmond, and I am certain that she saw first hand the result of offering insufficient educational opportunities to students who are currently under served by the system that is in place. She also had a bird’s eye view of the impact that poverty has on young people and their families, and sadly, she had a front row seat to the current school to prison pipeline that is all too real all across the country.
There will be many challenges ahead for the new Secretary of Education, but she is certainly well connected (her husband is Virginia Senator Tim Kaine) and she has the knowledge and background that she needs to do an awesome job in this new post. I can’t say that I know Anne Holton all that well, but I know her well enough to know that she is passionate and dedicated to the issues that are near and dear to my own heart which include making a high quality public education accessible to all of the children of Virginia. I trust that she will lead her new team in the direction that we need to go and that we will curb the General Assembly’s enthusiasm for charters, choice, and vouchers. Until and unless we can properly fund the public school system so that schools and teachers have a fair chance to succeed, we need not be offering funding to dicey charters and private schools that are not held to the same standards as public schools. I hope that Ms. Holton will hear that message and heed it as she moves ahead and carries Virginia’s teachers and schools with her.
Congratulations to Anne Holton on being nominated for this important post, and congratulations to Governor-Elect Terry McAuliffe and his team for making this fabulous appointment. I remain optimistic that teachers in Virginia have reason to be glad that they helped Mr. McAuliffe win the 2013 election for Governor of Virginia.