- - Sunday, October 3, 2021

“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” With that revelation, Terry McAuliffe said out loud what many big-government liberal advocates believe at heart.  Hand your children over to us, and we know best how to educate them.  The Commonwealth of Virginia is suffering double-digit declines in Standard of Learning (SOL) scores among its students from Tidewater to Appalachia. It faces an unprecedented teacher shortage, and the curriculum continues to get watered down with superintendents promoting critical race theory over reading, writing, arithmetic, and science.  Now more than ever, we need parents involved in their children’s education.

Between consultant-driven campaigns that direct candidates to temper their true feelings and find the magic jargon that appeals to the mythical voter in the middle, Terry McAuliffe’s unusually candid retort to a debate question crystalizes different worldviews from which an electorate can choose.  In the closing weeks of the campaign, Glenn Youngkin should make the Governor’s race a referendum on whether parents should butt out of their kid’s education as Terry McAuliffe and the teacher’s unions believe.

Amidst the chaos, disruption, and tragedy of the pandemic, even parents in traditionally Democrat strongholds have grown frustrated over the power of teacher unions.  Despite all evidence that the seasonal flu is more dangerous to school-age children than COVID-19, teacher unions were able to keep most schools across America shuttered last year.  As a result, students are rapidly falling behind.  According to the Department of Education, more than two out of three African American and Hispanic students failed their Standard of Learning test last year.  Parents of disadvantaged children in underprivileged neighborhoods are least likely to afford tutors to backfill for closed schools or provide supervision to ensure their children log on and sit through an online school. 

Student achievement in math fell 28 points, science scores dropped 22 points, and reading scores sagged 10 points.  Only 61% of all third-graders passed their SOLs.  Today, there are more than 1000 teacher openings across the Commonwealth. 

With the insidious inclusion of critical race theory in the curriculum and the complicity of school administrators in appeasing the Orwellian gender equity movement, parents should be more concerned than ever about what their children are learning in school.  No longer are classrooms environments for learning reading, writing, math, and science.  Instead, they have become laboratories for advancing a political agenda often in conflict with values taught at home.

As President Joe Biden’s plummeting approval numbers have become a millstone around the neck of Democrat candidates, Terry McAuliffe has countered by spending months trying to scare voters in Virginia that his opponent —the Harvard MBA graduate, former Carlyle executive, and tony Great Falls resident is truly a Donald Trump clone.  Voters have suffered through debates about tearing down Confederate statues on Monument Avenue in Richmond and discussions about the alleged threat of rising sea levels to coastal Virginia; yet out of this cauldron of clickbait topics, an issue of primary importance has bubbled to the top, an issue that directly impacts the lives of millions of voters across the Old Dominion.  At the very moment our schools need help, Terry McAuliffe wants parents to stay out.

• Marc Short was the Legislative Affairs Director for President Trump when he successfully passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

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