Virginia May Turn the Tide In America’s Education War
As the gubernatorial race in Virginia continues to tighten, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe has called for the cavalry. Leading the charge was Barack Obama, who with his characteristic smug superiority, saw fit to lecture the people of Virginia on what they should really be considering when they cast their votes:
“We don’t have time to be wasted on these phony trumped-up culture wars, this fake outrage, the right-wing media’s pedals to juice their ratings. And the fact that [Youngkin is] willing to go along with it instead of talking about serious problems that actually affect serious people? That’s a shame. That’s not what this election’s about.”
With his speech, the former president made a sharp dig at parents throughout the state whose fight for the minds and souls of their children has redefined the race. To Obama, their courageous efforts against the educational establishment are mere gullibility, evidence of the power that Fox News has over their weak minds.
Political observers are rightly considering the Virginia election to be a bellwether for the Democrats’ chances in 2022 and 2024. But there is even more at stake in the choice that the Commonwealth will make: It will show the entire country just how much power the educrats have left in our society after years of corruption and incompetence.
As I have written elsewhere, the American educational establishment is an authoritarian regime that quashes dissent wherever it rises. Yet for over a year now, that dissent has been steadily growing in school districts all across the country.
It began during the lockdown fever of 2020 when many districts shifted to remote learning. For the first time, housebound parents saw exactly what their children were being taught and many were not pleased. They started attending school board meetings and voicing their concerns about matters the educrats consider sacred, such as critical race theory, transgender bathrooms, and Covid-19 safety rules that turn schools into gulags.
Standard operating procedure for the educational establishment was to ignore these concerns. When that no longer worked, it turned to accusations of bigotry and procedural changes to put out the fire that it had unwittingly lit.
Yet these parents stubbornly refused to be silenced. Some decided to abandon the rotten system altogether and take direct charge of their children’s educations. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, the number of homeschooling families has tripled since 2019. Others bravely continue the fight to reform education in their communities despite the machinations of the teachers’ unions, school and district administrators, and their political allies.
As the fire spread this fall, the educrats made a final desperate effort to contain it. Leaders of the National School Board Association (NSBA) colluded with the White House to have concerned parents labeled domestic terrorists in a brazen assault on free speech. Attorney General Merrick Garland was only too happy to oblige these ardent supporters of the Biden Administration, but his feckless testimony before the House Judiciary Committee combined with a massive public outcry to force the NSBA to save face by issuing an apology to its members (though, tellingly, not to the parents it smeared).
For months now, Virginia has been the chief stage on which this political drama has played out, most notably in Loudoun County, a Democratic stronghold in the north of the state. Video footage from school board meetings over the summer went viral, terrifying the educrats and galvanizing parents. Now, the board members of Loudoun County Public Schools are embroiled in a scandal involving a “gender fluid” student accused of two sexual assaults, crimes that they allegedly tried to cover up.
True to form, Terry McAuliffe has thrown his support behind the faltering regime. In a September debate with his opponent Glenn Youngkin, he dismissed parental concerns about pornographic material in school libraries and frankly admitted “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” When challenged on this statement, he doubled down on his contempt by calling parents’ opposition to critical race theory a “racist dog whistle.”
Youngkin, on the other hand, has embraced the parents’ revolution, taking every opportunity to remind the people of Virginia that McAuliffe and his party see their children as state property to be molded as those in power wish. Youngkin’s educational plan calls for the restoration of the high standards that McAuliffe lowered during his previous term as governor, an increase in the number of charter schools, and informing parents to empower them to make the proper decisions for their children.
McAuliffe’s spineless obeisance to the educational establishment may spell his downfall. According to a recent Cygnal poll, not only are McAuliffe and Youngkin in a dead heat, but there is also a 17.3 percent gap among K-12 parents in favor of Republican candidates. Furthermore, a recent WXFR/Emerson College poll found that 20 percent of polled Virginians believe education is the number one issue facing the state.
Even in deep blue counties like Loudoun and neighboring Fairfax, the political winds are blowing against McAuliffe and his educrat backers on this issue. A majority of people living in those counties do not support implementing critical race theory in the classroom. Meanwhile, enrollment in Fairfax County public schools remains down by over 10,000 from pre-pandemic levels as parents vote with their feet.
The voters of the Commonwealth of Virginia have a chance to sway the national conversation about schooling. Should McAuliffe win, the educational establishment will use the victory to continue to impose its radicalism on American children. A Youngkin victory, on the other hand, will put the educrats on notice that it is high time for them to accept the accountability to the parents and taxpayers that they have avoided for so long.
Here’s hoping that tomorrow on Election Day, Virginians embody the courage of their venerable state motto: Sic semper tyrannis.
Robert Busek is a Catholic homeschooling father of six who has taught history and Western Civilization in both traditional and online classrooms for more than 20 years. His essays have also been published in the Federalist, the Daily Knight and on the blog Darrow Miller and Friends. The views he expresses here are his own.