Virginia’s new Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has set up a tip line for the parents of children being taught at schools in the state, to report any teachers that teach ‘divisive’ subjects.
The tip line is specifically for parents to come forward and report any state schools they believe to be ‘behaving objectionably’.
‘We’re asking for folks to send us reports and observations,’ Youngkin said. ‘Help us be aware of … their child being denied the rights that parents have in Virginia, and we’re going to make sure we catalog it all. … And that gives us further, further ability to make sure we’re rooting it out.’
Education issues were central to Youngkin’s campaign, as he ran pledging to do away with Covid-related school closures and fighting back against critical race theory and other progressive ideologies in schools.
Youngkin said that he believed the teaching of critical race theory to be a ‘divisive concepts’ in the classroom, although he didn’t state it specifically during Monday’s radio interview,
Youngkin, who took office earlier this month, in one of his first orders required school districts to allow parents an opportunity to opt-out of masking their children at school but the
‘If there’s one thing that hopefully everybody heard in November it’s that it is time to listen to parents. So over the course of this week, I hope they will listen to parents because we will use every resource within the governor’s authority to explore what we will do and can do in order to make sure that parents’ rights are protected,’ Youngkin said.
Youngkin, the first Republican to win the governor’s seat in Virginia in over a decade, issued a list of 11 day-one executive orders.
Among them was one that promised ‘to empower Virginia parents in their children’s education and upbringing by allowing parents to make decisions on whether their child wears a mask in school.’
Virginia is not the only state to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory – several others have already done so.
Youngkin called CRT ‘political indoctrination’ in his executive order.
‘This denies our students the opportunity to gain important facts, core knowledge, formulate their own opinions, and to think for themselves,’ the order reads. ‘Our children deserve far better from their education than to be told what to think.’
On the matter of Critical Race Theory, a decisive issue during the Governor’s race, parents voiced their frustration with the state’s woke school boards who don’t want their children to be taught that they’re bad or good depending on their race.
The use of critical race theory, or CRT, in education has been criticized for its message that the US is built on racism with skin color determining the social, economic, and political differences between each.
Advocates say its teaching is necessary to underline how deeply racism pervades society, critics say it is divisive and paints everyone as a victim or oppressor, with multiple Virginia school board meetings making headlines after parents were filmed clashing with staff over the decision to teach it.
Governor Youngkin pledged to ban CRT, seizing on the discontent of parents who had grown agitated after the Loudon County school board announced a $6million ‘equity-training’ program that parents associated with CRT.
The tight Youngkin-McAuliffe race took a turn after the Republican newcomer pledged to ban CRT.
‘Our schools are teaching our kids what to think as opposed to how to think. We’re going to go in on day one and re-establish excellence in schools,’ Youngkin said.
Loudon County, a Democratic stronghold in northern Virginia, became the focal point of debate over woke policies by school boards across the country.
Last April, the county announced that it planned to allocate more than $6 million to ‘equity training’ which was met with strong opposition by some residents.
Parents claimed that training was part of a pro-CRT push which would lead to students seeing themselves as victims or oppressors, depending on their race.
Protests then reignited in September, when the school board voted 6-3 in favor of beginning a study into whether it would be appropriate to give reparations to black people after it previously ignored a landmark desegregation ruling.
Youngkin said he would ban CRT from schools and said he would open an investigation into the Loudoun County School Board.
Indeed, Virginia’s Loudoun County was a focal point in Youngkin’s race after a skirt-wearing 14-year-old male high school student, identifying as non-binary, was arrested over the rape of a female student in a school bathroom.
That male student was then transferred to a different school where he then allegedly raped another student.
The district has been accused of covering up the crime and saw one of the alleged victim’s parents arrested at a school board meeting.
The student involved has been placed on the sex offenders registry for life as part of his sentence.
On Monday, Youngkin was facing a new legal challenge over his executive action that aimed to let parents opt out of school mask mandates as his order took effect, but was ignored by some districts.
Youngkin issued the order as one of his first acts after being sworn in as governor January 15, and confusion has swirled over the implications since then.
Some districts have interpreted the order as being at odds with a state law that deals with COVID-19 mitigation in schools and have opted to keep pre-existing mask mandates in place for students.
On Monday, some students reporting to class ignored local mandates and went maskless, but there were no reports of major issues or violent confrontations.
With the order facing a legal challenge filed last week filed by a group of parents and another filed Monday morning by seven school boards, Youngkin urged patience and asked parents to listen to their children’s school principals for the time being.
“Listen to a principal today. And I know that there are some school systems that are doing things that are inconsistent with respecting the rights of parents. … Let´s respect it right now and let this legal process play out,” he said in an interview with Richmond radio station WRVA.
Monday’s legal challenge was brought by seven school boards that filed a lawsuit in Arlington County Circuit Court seeking to block the executive order.
In addition to Fairfax, the state´s most populous jurisdiction, the school boards in Alexandria, Richmond, Hampton, Falls Church, Arlington County, and Prince William County, joined the suit. Collectively, the jurisdictions represent more than 350,000 students.
The lawsuit argues the state constitution gives local school boards the authority to run their districts. It also cites a state law that requires school systems to follow federal health guidelines, which include recommendations for universal masking.
“At issue is whether locally-elected school boards will maintain the exclusive authority and responsibility conferred upon them by Article VIII, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia to supervise the public schools in their respective school divisions or whether the Governor can unilaterally infringe upon that authority through an executive order,” the lawsuit states.
Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said the administration was disappointed that the school boards were acting counter to parents’ rights.
“The governor and attorney general are in coordination and are committed to aggressively defending parents´ fundamental right to make decisions with regard to their child´s upbringing, education, and care, as the legal process plays out,” she said in a statement.
Supporters of the executive order say the state law is not in conflict with Youngkin´s executive order because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recommends mask-wearing and does not mandate it.