Multiple documents on the Virginia Department of Education website reference Critical Race Theory (CRT) despite former Governor Terry McAuliffe’s repeated claims that CRT is not taught in Virginia’s public schools.
McAuliffe repeated his claim about CRT in an appearance on MSNBC on Sunday, telling network host Chuck Todd that Glenn Youngkin, McAuliffe’s GOP opponent to become the next governor of Virginia, is lying about CRT-influenced curriculum in schools. Documents linked on the Virginia Department of Education’s website reveal CRT’s influence on school curriculum and processes, however.
“What’s Glenn Youngkin’s education plan? He wants to ban Critical Race Theory. Well, let me explain to you, it’s never been in Virginia,” McAuliffe said, repeating the claim later in the interview. In neither instance did Todd push back on McAuliffe.
“People trust me on education, but it’s at the forefront here in Virginia as it now is in others. You see what’s happening in Georgia and Florida because they’re talking about this Critical Race Theory,” McAuliffe said. “And as I said before, and I’ll say it again, it’s never been taught in Virginia. And I really hate it, because it’s a racist dog whistle. And all Glenn Youngkin has done in this campaign is run down Virginia, run down our education system, run down our economy.”
“And when you think of this right now on Critical Race Theory, Chuck, it’s not taught so all you’re doing is pitting parents against parents, parents against teachers, and they’re using children as political pawns,” McAuliffe said.
The Manhattan Institute’s Chris Rufo highlighted several documents — one dating back to when McAuliffe ran the state from 2014 to 2018 — on the Virginia Department of Education’s website featuring CRT. In 2015, the state Department of Education pushed a slideshow promoting CRT in response to racial disparities in public school discipline.
“African American students suspended [more] than double their % age in student population,” says the slideshow, prepared by University of South Florida professor Brenda Townsend Walker. To cut down on black student suspensions, Walker encourages school administrators to incorporate a “Critical Race Theory (CRT) lens” into their disciplinary process. She also encourages teachers to “[e]mbrace Critical Race Theory” and “[e]ngage in race-conscious teaching and learning.”
In 2019 under Democratic Governor Ralph Northam, Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane sent a memo to Virginia public schools naming a host of resources educators can use to prepare for “dialogue around race, racism, and bigotry.” Several of the resources, such as Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility,” promote ideas such as CRT.
“CRT has proven an important analytic tool in the field of education, offering critical perspectives on race, and the causes, consequences and manifestations of race, racism, inequity, and the dynamics of power and privilege in schooling,” reads the caption of one work, “Foundations of Critical Race Theory in Education,” by Edward Taylor, David Gillborn, and Gloria Ladson-Billings.
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