Virginia’s Democrat and Republican gubernatorial candidates participated in their final debate Tuesday night, with Democrat and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe declaring that parents shouldn’t have a say in what their kids are taught in public schools.
At one point during the debate, the candidates were asked out whether protections for transgender students should be determined at the state or local level. McAuliffe responded to a recent incident where a parent complained that two books available to high school students contained graphic sexual content and pedophilia. The school district removed the books and is currently reviewing them.
“I’m not gonna let parents come in to schools and actually take books off and make their own decisions,” McAuliffe said to audience applause (the debate took place in ultra-Liberal Northern Virginia). “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
“I get really tired of everybody running down teachers. I love our teachers and what they’ve done through covid, these are real heroes who deserve our respect,” he added.
While McAuliffe’s statements about parents not being able to say what their kids are taught drew applause in Northern Virginia, many areas in the rest of the state are fighting for parents’ rights to know what their kids are being taught. The battle is especially strong in Loudoun County, where parents have repeatedly pushed back against the Loudoun County Public School district’s attempts to incorporate critical race theory in school curriculum. It started when the school attempted to restructure history and social studies to emphasize slavery and push racial victimhood. Meanwhile, the school began providing training sessions that insisted oppression was still rampant in America. Some of these trainings were racist themselves, such as one that suggested Hispanic parents and students didn’t perform as well because they face “immigration” and “deportation threats,” as if all Hispanic students are in the country illegally.
Teachers who objected to the district’s so-called anti-racist measures were told to remain silent. The district attempted to craft a speech code that prohibited teachers from criticizing the district’s racial equity plan, and an advisory board demanded teachers be dismissed if they criticized equity training. Parents who spoke out were put on a list to be harassed.
McAuliffe’s take on education is interesting considering some of his positions when he was governor between 2014 and 2018. He vetoed a school-choice bill “that would have allowed parents to use state money to pay for private schools or home schooling,” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. McAuliffe vetoed this bill, which would allow low-income students to attend better schools, even though he has sent his own kids to expensive private schools.
Education was not the only issue on which McAuliffe demanded state control. He also knocked his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, for refusing to force vaccine and mask mandates on people. Youngkin responded by saying “Everyone should get the vaccine … but I don’t believe we should mandate it.”