LEESBURG, Va. – Parents in Loudoun County, Virginia rallied on Saturday in support of having a stronger say in classroom curricula, encouraging people to take their grievances to the ballot box in November.
The rally, held outside the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors’ building in Leesburg, welcomed over a hundred parents, activists, and community organizers to speak on what’s at stake in the governor’s race.
“The Virginia election is going to be the first election where politicians are held to account over what we’re seeing, not just here, but across the country,” said Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.org, which co-hosted the event.
The event was also hosted by Fight for Schools, a nonpartisan political action committee that helps elect political candidates who “support equal opportunity, tolerance, meritocracy, and achievement.”
The rally came shortly after Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe’s recent comments about limiting parental input in classrooms.
“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” Mr. McAuliffe said last week in the final debate against GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin.
Mr. McAuliffe’s comments were quickly turned into an attack ad by Mr. Youngkin, which juxtaposed his position next to images of parents speaking at school board meetings.
The Democrat, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, later doubled down on his comments, saying the state’s Board of Education in conjunction with local school boards should determine what’s taught in classrooms.
“Listen, we have a Board of [Education] working with local school boards to determine the curriculum for our schools. You don’t want parents coming in every different school jurisdiction saying this is what should be taught here, this is what should be taught here,” Mr. McAuliffe told CBS 19 of Charlottesville.
The McAuliffe campaign previously did not respond to a request for comment on this topic.
Joe Mobley, a Loudoun County parent and community activist, argued Mr. McAuliffe’s comments showed a “fundamental misunderstanding” of how governments should function.
“When the former governor, Terry McAuliffe, says parents have no rights, parents should not be involved with what’s being taught to their children, that’s absurd because parents are the authority that’s over the school board,” Mr. Mobley said in an interview.
Education has been a centerpiece in the governor’s race, with Mr. McAuliffe promising to put $2 billion into Virginia schools per year.
In addition to that, Mr. McAuliffe has vowed to increase teacher pay, expand broadband and modernize schools to close racial inequities in schools.
Mr. Youngkin, on the other hand, has focused more on his vow to eradicate the teachings of critical race theory, an academic thesis born in the 1970s that asserts that U.S. institutions are systemically racist.
The Republican previously promised that one of his first official acts as governor would be to sign an executive order banning the teachings in Virginia public schools.
Outrage over the alleged teachings has made Loudoun County the nation’s epicenter for parental activism, despite school officials denying that critical race theory is being taught in county schools.
John Beatty, who sits on the Loudoun County school board, said he thinks education could be the one issue that determines the outcome of the race.
“It’s going to play a huge role, especially given Terry McAuliffe’s gaffe last week when he said that parents shouldn’t have any say in their children’s [education], Mr. Beatty said.
Ken Cuccinelli, former Virginia attorney general and Trump administration official, who spoke at the rally praised Loudoun County, encouraging parents to continue their activism by voting in the election.
“America is watching Loudoun County,” Mr. Cuccinelli said. “All of America has been inspired by parents stepping forward to annoy Terry McAuliffe by actually trying to have a say in their children’s education.”
Polls have varied on which candidate carries a lead in the state, indicating a tight race a month out from Election Day.
A Monmouth University poll last week had Mr. McAuliffe up 48% compared to Mr. Youngkin’s 43%.
The poll was conducted from Sept. 22-26 and surveyed a random sample of 801 Virginia voters, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.
Election Day is Nov. 2, but early voting remains underway in Virginia.