Democrats fight back as Republicans target education to push suburbs

Democrats are fighting against public education, which has always been a strong political issue for them. But they must defend their takeover of the suburbs to have any hope in next year’s midterm elections and, if applicable, prevent a return victory for ex-President Donald Trump in 2024. .

The question of what to teach American children exploded this week in Virginia with Democratic accusations that Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin was blowing a “racist dog whistle” after running a misleading advertisement featuring concerns about ‘a mother about a book her son learned at school. It turns out the parent is a conservative activist and the book was the novel “Beloved” by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, which portrays the horrors of slavery.

“What bothers me on a daily basis is that Glenn Youngkin is using education to divide Virginia. He wants to pit parents against parents, parents against teachers. He wants to bring his personal culture wars to our classrooms. said the former Democratic governor, who faces a neck. Neck race complicated by Biden’s difficulties in pushing through his ambitious agenda and declining approval ratings.

Education is not just a political issue. There are few areas as important and emotionally resonant to voters of all stripes as the well-being and future of their children. And senior Republicans believe the pandemic – and the frustration many parents felt with school closures for much of the past year – means they can get an audition from voters who might not always listen. .

The emotional impact of schooling is evident in the furious struggles for and against mask wearing and mandates across the country. School board meetings have been interrupted by angry conservative parents who appear to see themselves as the vanguards of a new political movement. In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Republicans are expected to challenge Attorney General Merrick Garland on a note in which he asked the FBI to work with local and state law enforcement to respond to harassment and threats against school board officials. Conservatives accused him of treating parents like “domestic terrorists.” (The note makes no reference to domestic terrorism.)

Potential Republican presidential candidates like Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida looked at issues such as transgender children participating in school sports and how the history of racism is brought up in classrooms to seek credibility with pro voters. Trump. And Republicans now believe they are seeing evidence that parents of other political persuasions also believe schools are failing in the grip of political correctness.

“Our kids can’t wait,” Youngkin said at a recent rally in Burke, Va., After anchoring his hopes for a shock victory in a final argument centered on the crop war over education.

His controversial announcement released Monday hits McAuliffe for vetoing a bill during a previous term as governor that allegedly forced schools to warn parents of such material – but Youngkin may have gone too far for some.

Senator L. Louise Lucas of the Democratic state of Virginia called Morrison a hero for African Americans – a key voting bloc in Virginia.

“Youngkin has aligned himself with the people who wanted to stop teaching his book in our public schools. And the people who want to ban books on slavery and racism,” Lucas said Tuesday, speaking on behalf of from the McAuliffe campaign.

Youngkin’s dance between Trump and the moderates

The education feuds encompass broader clashes – over race and the identity of America itself – that have been exacerbated by Trump’s demagogic rise. They tap into the sentiment often found among Republican voters outside of liberal coastal towns that the country’s quintessential culture and history is threatened by a newly diverse population and rapidly changing social mores. It creates a ‘take back our country’ mentality that Trump constantly fuels.

The GOP settled on a message that asks whether parents or bureaucrats and teachers, who are often viewed as disproportionately liberal, should decide what is taught in schools. This raises the question of whether American children should only learn subjects and ideas that fit well with their own parents’ policies and views on America’s tortured racial history. After all, education at a certain level is meant to involve learning new facts and perspectives that challenge preconceptions.

Virginia governor election is more important than ever as a national barometer

Republican strategists believe that home schooling that was imposed on many parents during the pandemic opened their eyes to the kind of materials their children used to learn about race and history. They also believe the charged atmosphere around school closings, masking and potentially vaccination warrants will work to their advantage in many congressional races next year.

“I think the pandemic exposed all of that, and then we saw teachers’ unions control when schools are going to be open,” said Florida Senator Rick Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senate Committee before mid- session. Teacher unions traditionally favor Democrats.

GOP leaders believe their message on the issue will connect with their constituents and others far beyond Virginia, possibly even sparking a rise in the number of Conservative parents running for school board seats, which could increase Republicans next year.

McAuliffe unwittingly amplified the GOP’s message in a remark during a debate last month that he said was taken out of context. “I don’t think parents should tell schools what they teach,” he said.

Youngkin, who tries to dance between Trump’s extremism and the more moderate voters who helped Biden win the state by 10 points just a year ago, jumped on the comment. He also accused the progressive movement of inserting “political agents into our school system disguised as school boards”. And he caught parental anxiety over a pair of alleged sexual assaults at two schools in Loudoun County earlier this year – a county where Biden beat Trump by 25 points last year.

Republican candidates can ignore Trump, but he won't leave

If Youngkin can use the question to woo some independents and take advantage of Democratic apathy in the polls, he could cut McAuliffe’s vote by the margins he needs to secure a victory that would upset Biden’s White House.

So far, the focus on education seems to help Youngkin. A Fox News poll last week found it was tied on which candidate was the most reliable to deal with the issue. In a previous survey in September, he was 4 points behind on the matter.

Youngkin on Tuesday welcomed the idea that he could draft a plan for Republican campaigns next year.

“We hear from parents emailing me, texting me and calling me and saying ‘stand up for our children too,'” he told reporters. “It just goes to show that the Virginians have a chance to do something in Virginia that is going to have an effect on the whole country.”

Gender battles also rock schools

But Virginia isn’t the only front line in the battle over race and gender in schools.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, more than 30 states this year introduced legislation prohibiting transgender student athletes from participating in school sports compatible with their gender identity. Supporters of these bills suggest that transgender girls are not biological girls and therefore have a physical advantage in female sports. Advocates of trans, however, argue that such views are based on an inaccurate view of sexuality, gender and biology, and argue that the right to participate in sports like any other child is a fundamental and vital right of all children. mental health.

As recently as Monday in Texas, Abbott signed a bill restricting the right of transgender children to play on K-12 sports teams that match their gender identities. The bill requires student-athletes to compete in teams that match the gender indicated on their birth certificates. In June, DeSantis of Florida signed a bill that prevents transgender girls and women in public high schools and colleges from competing in women’s and women’s sports teams. Transgender advocates have pledged to challenge these laws in court.

Florida and Texas have also been at the forefront of efforts to ban the teaching of “critical race theory,” which critics say is more about using race as a political issue than an honest debate on the history of the United States. And the two governors argued with school districts who wanted mask mandates.

CRT has become a dominant theme on conservative radio and television, where it is often distorted. The concept has been around for decades and seeks to understand and address systemic inequalities and racism in the United States. But conservative critics claim the CRT is a Marxist ideology and a threat to the American way of life. The extent to which CRT is used and taught is regularly exaggerated – especially since this is primarily an academic discussion far beyond elementary school classrooms – and this is especially true on conservative media, where it provides a direct electrical connection to the Trump base.

While McAuliffe insists the CRT is not part of the Commonwealth education system, Youngkin’s promise to ban it anyway is consistently the loudest line of applause in his speeches. It helps explain why Republicans think they have a galvanizing opening on an issue that could catch fire next year in the suburbs.

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