According to a recent CBS News Poll, a majority of Virginia voters consider the state’s school curricula on race and history to be a “major factor” when deciding who to elect as governor. Their concern is valid. For much of the state’s history, the curriculum included white supremacist propaganda and focused on white history. Virginia’s schools ignored minorities especially during lessons about the history of slavery, the Civil War, and segregation. The goal of this curriculum was to keep the races divided, and for many years, it worked well.
Virginia, and especially Loudoun County, are the test case for Republican attempts to use racism to win the gubernatorial race and future elections. GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin and his team sell lies concerning Critical Race Theory to incite fear and anger. Youngkin knows CRT isn’t taught in our high schools, real history is taught. This is the history he wants stopped! The Loudoun County School Board, the Administration of Loudoun County Public Schools, and the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors released an apology to Loudon’s Black community, admitting that for generations they were “denied rights and equal treatment.” This apology is definitely worth a read.
Loudoun County schools have been plagued with racist problems and challenges even to the point that in 2019, the Virginia Office of the Attorney General sent a letter announcing it was opening an investigation into the district. According to Forbes, Loudoun County is the richest county in the United States, with median family income up 26% since 2010. Many of the long-time county residents are not happy with the pace of change being driven by newcomers or their wealth.
CRT isn’t taught in Virginia high schools but Republicans, seeing a race-related issue to feed their base and sow doubt among parents and independent voters, began stoking fake outrage over CRT and teaching race issues in school. As groups of alleged parents disrupted school board meetings and claimed that teaching CRT was dividing the races, Youngkin quickly pledged to ban teaching CRT in Virginia schools on “day 1.” Remember how Republicans politicized teaching science by pushing “creation science”? They now see CRT as a similar faux issue to rally behind with the goal of stopping the teaching of real history.
Speaking in Loudoun County, Youngkin pledged to bring back school choice so parents could select their children’s schools. Interesting that school choice, then called Freedom of Choice, was a method that old Virginian segregationists used to continue segregating schools in defiance of Supreme Court rulings and federal laws. This Loudoun Freedom of Choice plan was struck down in 1967 by the courts and “[B]y the end of the 1968-1969 school year, school officials in Loudoun County had at last implemented these reforms and fully integrated all school facilities.”
Racism dies hard, especially in isolated and pressured populations such as the older Loudoun County families and much of rural Virginia. The lies concerning CRT in our schools deliberately stoke fears and prejudices and attempt to return Virginia to teaching propaganda, not American history, to our children. The propaganda with its notion that slavery and segregation were not so bad, which was taught until recently in Virginia schools, divided students along racial lines. Let’s not repeat the failures of the past that served our children so badly.
By a significant margin, conservative voters over 65 are those most concerned with how history and race are being taught in Virginia schools. The shock to older, more conservative Virginia voters who were taught racism at home and in school is understandable. However, it is far past time for an honest telling of American and Virginian history so our children and their children can understand our roots and realize that, for both good and ill, we built this nation together. Virginia is already plotting a path to growing a stronger future for all our citizens.
Education was a key component in the selection of Virginia as the top state for business in 2021; “A strong workforce and a solid education system propelled Virginia to its second straight win in CNBC’s state competitiveness rankings.”
Glenn Youngkin wants to destroy Virginia’s growth and prosperity by returning the state to its stale, old days of poverty, inequality, and poor education for most and prosperity for a few. Racism has no home here.
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