Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe was asked by a local journalist to define Critical Race Theory in light of concerns raised by parents in Virginia school districts. He failed, instead suggesting that parents who oppose teaching elements of CRT as part of K-12 curriculum are racist.
“It is not taught here in Virginia,” McAuliffe said when asked how he would define “Critical Race Theory,” by a local journalist.
When pressed, McAuliffe claimed that it “doesn’t matter” how he defines CRT. “It’s not taught here in Virginia so I’m not going to spend my time …”
The journalist interrupted, pressing McAuliffe to give his thoughts on “what it is,” referring to CRT, regardless of whether the concept is taught in K-12 public schools.
“I’m not even spending my time because the school boards and everyone else has come out and said it’s not taught,” McAuliffe began.
“It’s racist,” he said, referring to complaints. “It’s a dog whistle.”
“But if we don’t have a definition,” the news anchor presses, “how can we say it’s racist? I just want a definition from you.”
A panicking McAuliffe then doubled down.
“It’s not taught here in Virginia,” he responded. “Here’s what I’ve said all along — and it really bothers me. This whole idea of stirring parents up to create divisions. Our children are going through such challenges today because of COVID, and we’re talking about something here today, wasting precious viewers’ time.”
Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe suggests parents concerned about Critical Race Theory are racist, then refuses to define CRT. pic.twitter.com/MKnnb5BC4S
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) October 8, 2021
McAuliffe’s Republican challenger, Glenn Youngkin, pointed out on Twitter that McAuliffe may be technically correct in that Critical Race Theory itself is not taught in K-12 public schools, but Virginia teachers have, at least, been encouraged to teach some subjects through a “Critical Race Theory lens,” bringing aspects of the more complex CRT into use in classrooms.
Youngkin claims that, during his last term as governor, McAuliffe’s department of education pushed for teachers to use CRT.
As governor, Terry McAuliffe pushed the divisive political agenda of critical race theory into our schools.
— Glenn Youngkin (@GlennYoungkin) October 7, 2021
Critics of teaching Critical Race Theory have also pointed out that elements of Critical Race Theory appear in some Virginia curriculum models, and that models created by individuals familiar with CRT encourage “educators to commit to making schools—at all levels—critical active conscience spaces that center people long denied space, voice and freedom,” in line with the theory itself.
Some of the most notable confrontations between educators and parents concerned about CRT have happened in Loudon and Fairfax counties in Virginia. The Loudon confrontation, at least, is among those mentioned by the National School Board Association in its letter to the Department of Justice requesting federal law enforcement resources be dedicated to investigating potential threats to administrators and faculty, likening the incidents to “domestic terrorism” and “hate crimes.”
The Department of Justice responded to that letter earlier this week, pledging to dedicate federal resources to investigating reports of harassment and violence directed at school administrators. House Republicans pushed back on Thursday, demanding that Attorney General Merrick Garland defend that decision and explain how these investigations would not interfere with the First Amendment rights of parents.
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