Gubernatorial Candidate Kirk Cox: Virginia Education Department Is Forcing ‘Mediocrity in the Name of Equity’

House Speaker, Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, presides over the House during the session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. A panel of federal judges has chosen a redistricting map for Virginia's House of Delegates that could shift some districts toward Democrats and help the party …
Steve Helber/AP Photo

Former Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox, who is running for governor, warned against the public education system prioritizing equity in the classroom during an interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Saturday with host Matthew Boyle.

Cox, a Republican state delegate and retired public school teacher of 30 years, zoned in on the Virginia Department of Education’s recent move to eliminate accelerated math courses prior to eleventh grade. The department cited among its reasons for the proposed change a desire to “improve equity in mathematics learning opportunities.”

Cox said of the mentality behind the department moving to deprive younger students of the advanced courses, “It’s just a totally different worldview. They’re teaching basically that America is broken; there’s no such thing as American exceptionalism. It’s forced mediocrity in the name of equity.”


The concept of equity in education is infused into Democrats’ education plans both at the state and federal level and often described as a way to “close achievement gaps.”

“Let me tell you what happens from a teacher’s standpoint. You throw all kids in here together, and frankly, what happens is they get bored. You have discipline problems. There’s no rigor whatsoever. … I can’t imagine China lowering their bar. It’s a competitiveness issue where we’re going to fall way behind,” Cox warned.

Speaking on his experience in the classroom, Cox said, “I wanted training as a teacher on how I can achieve higher scores. I wanted the best teachers coming in and training me on the Federalist Papers and on these essential American great concepts, and if I’m a math teacher, I want great creative concepts to teach kids tough principles. We’re seeing exactly the opposite. … Can you imagine as a basketball and baseball coach, you telling your kids, ‘Well you know, our goal this year’ — or you’re the band director or cheerleading competition — ‘you know we’re really not trying to win.’ Here’s the problem with that social utopia. The kids reject that outright, and frankly, what you end up doing is you bring everyone down. There’s no success whatsoever. So from a practical standpoint, it is so unworkable, Matt. It will absolutely ruin American education, and so that’s why we need to fight that.”

In Virginia, the governor is responsible for choosing the state’s secretary of education and superintendent. Cox vowed to choose “very conservative folks” if elected, explaining that teachers, under the current Department of Education, are under pressure to meet standards related to equity because they are evaluated accordingly.

“They know they can’t take over the country politically — there’ll be a reaction — so you use the education system. You indoctrinate from teachers,” Cox continued. “Teachers take all kinds of in-service training. All of that now is equity. None of it is on teaching principles and how to be effective, and so it’s basically trying to convert that whole teacher corps. … They’re not looking to see whether or not your kids are getting a five on the AP test. They’re not looking to see whether or not your kids are excelling, whether you’ve got great discipline in the classroom, whether you’re motivating kids. They’re looking whether or not you are basically towing the line on all this equity and inclusion and America’s a bad country.”

The Virginia Republican also said during the interview that he is a proponent of school choice for the healthy competition it creates and railed against Gov. Ralph Northam (D) for allowing public schools to remain fully or partially closed in the name of coronavirus while private schools, he said, were more open.

Virginia, which has taken a leftward shift in recent years, has been led not only by a Democrat governor since 2014, but also by a Democrat-majority House of Delegates and Senate since Democrats swept both chambers in the 2019 election.

Among Republican gubernatorial contenders, Cox is up against two wealthy political outsiders, Glenn Youngkin and Pete Snyder, as well as a colleague of his in the legislature, state Sen. Amanda Chase, as he vies for the nomination, which will be determined at a remote-style convention on May 8. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), a longtime Clinton ally, is leading the field of potential Democrat nominees given his name recognition and campaign cash on hand that has eclipsed that of all the other nominees.

Cox said he believes voters are “rejecting” the long-held leadership of Northam, who is term-limited and cannot seek reelection this year, and his predecessor McAuliffe, who is able to seek election under the state’s constitution, which prohibits serving consecutive terms but allows for past governors to run again.

“I think they’re rejecting this one-party Democratic control, but I think you’re going to have to be able to relate and talk to [swing voters],” Cox said. “We can win in November. I am absolutely convinced of that. We have to win in November. If we don’t and these policies continue, we’ll not recognize the Virginia that we’ve all loved for so many years.”

Write to Ashley Oliver at


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