Youngkin asks for emailed reports on ‘divisive’ schools

Gov. Glenn Youngkin

(PATCH) – The administration of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has set up an email address for residents to report any type of teachings or practices in public schools across the state that they feel are “inherently divisive.”

Youngkin said his administration wants to be aware of these school practices and curriculums that are disliked by residents so the administration can “make sure that we’re rooting it out.”

The governor made the comments this week on the show of conservative radio host John Fredericks, who was Donald Trump’s Virginia presidential campaign chairman in 2016 and 2020.

On the show, Youngkin encouraged Virginia residents to send an email to helpeducation@governor.virginia.gov if they are concerned about practices inside their local schools and what is being taught by teachers.

“We’re going to make sure that we catalog it all, and it gives a great insight of what’s happening at the school level and that gives us further, further ability to make sure that we’re rooting it out,” Youngkin said.

The governor said his administration embraces teaching all history, “the good and the bad — we have dark chapters in our history.”

But he said he opposes school curriculums that highlight how some groups in society have had more privilege throughout the nation’s history and how others have been victims of systems set up by powerful politicians and leaders.

Youngkin pointed to an assignment in a Northern Virginia school he identified as “Fairfax County High School” that asked students to play “privilege bingo” as the type of teaching his administration wants to eradicate.

Throughout the interview, he repeatedly said he wants to collect examples of when parents feel like their “fundamental rights are being violated.”

Youngkin’s targeting of teachers and school systems across the state since entering office on Jan. 15 follows more wide-ranging actions by Republican governors in other states.

In Florida, for example, a bill championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis prohibits any school or private business from engaging in instruction or training that makes anyone “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” on account of their race.

The bill requires teachers to define “American history … as the creation of a new nation based largely on the universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.” But at America’s founding, the principles stated in the Declaration of Independence were not universal. Black people, women and other groups had few rights, political accountability newsletter Popular Information reported Tuesday.

In Virginia, the first executive order issued by Youngkin after getting sworn in as governor was the banning of the use of critical race theory or related “inherently divisive concepts” in the state’s public schools.

The campaign by conservative groups against the teaching of critical race theory began in late 2020 as a backlash against the nationwide protests against the killing of George Floyd and a call for racial justice in the nation.

Critical race theory is an academic framework, usually taught in universities, that is based on the idea that racism is embedded in American institutions, creating persistent systemic inequalities for people of color.

On the radio show, Youngkin conceded that critical race theory courses are not being taught in Virginia’s public schools. “Of course they’re not,” he said.

It’s the tenets of critical race theory, Youngkin argued, that have made their way into the classroom.

Youngkin also addressed the controversy over his executive order rescinding former Gov. Ralph Northam’s order requiring that masks be worn by students in the classroom to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The governor said he is not surprised by the lawsuit filed on Monday by seven school boards across the state challenging his executive order on optional masking in schools.

The pushback against his executive order is coming “from school boards that have consistently prioritized bureaucrats and politicians over the rights of parents,” Youngkin said on the radio show.

While the issue plays out in the courts, Youngkin said he wants residents to “trust the legal process” and for parents and students to “listen to your principal” on whether masks are required in their schools.

Youngkin said his administration and Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares will continue to “press in the court system as aggressively as we can” for optional mask-wearing by students in all the state’s school divisions and are hoping for an “expedited ruling on all of these issues.”

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