Virginia’s gubernatorial race continues to heat up over the influence of critical race theory (CRT) in K-12 education, with Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin vowing to ban the Marxist ideology “on day one” if elected, and his Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe insisting that it has never been taught in public schools.
With only two days to go until Election Day and early voting underway, Youngkin pledged on Sunday during an interview with Fox News’ “Life, Liberty & Levin” that he would ban the teaching of CRT, which he said divides children into groups of “oppressors” and the “oppressed,” pitting them against each other.
“What we know is [critical race theory] teaches children to see everything through a lens of race and then to divide them into buckets and have children that are called privileged and others that are victims, and it’s just wrong,” Youngkin said. “And it, in fact, forces our kids to compete against one another and steals their dreams.”
“In the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we’re called to judge one another based on the content of our character and not the color of our skin,” he continued. “That’s why there’s no place for critical race theory in our school system, and why, on day one, I’m going to ban it.”
Meanwhile, McAuliffe on Sunday repeated the claim that the CRT has never been taught in the state.
“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,” the former governor said on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“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,” he told host Chuck Todd. “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.”
The candidates’ remarks come as author and filmmaker Christopher Rufo, who is known for exposing the infiltration of CRT into governments, schools, and businesses, shared documents showing the presence of CRT in Virginia Department of Education.
Among the documents shared by Rufo is a slideshow (pdf) dating back to 2015 during McAuliffe’s tenure as governor. The presentation, which focuses on racial disparities in public school discipline, recommends that school administrators incorporate a “Critical Race Theory lens” into their disciplinary process, and that teachers “embrace Critical Race Theory” and “engage in race-conscious teaching and learning.”
In a 2019 memo sent to Virginia’s public schools, the DOE recommended a list of resources educators can use to prepare for “dialogue around race, racism, and bigotry.” The list includes the book “Foundations of Critical Race Theory in Education,” which describes the CRT as an “important analytic tool” and provides an “overview of the history and tenets of CRT in education.”