A new Fox News poll found that a strong majority of Virginia parents said they should tell schools what to teach their children, amid high-profile controversies over transgender policies and critical race theory in the state's schools.
The poll comes just two weeks after Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe – who served as Virginia's governor from 2014 to 2018 – said he opposes the notion of parents telling schools what they should teach.
When asked by Fox pollsters, "Do you believe parents should – or should not – be telling schools what to teach?" 57% of Virginia parents and 50% of likely voters told Fox News that parents should tell schools what to teach. Only 34% of parents, and 40% of likely voters, said parents "should not" tell schools what to teach.
"I'm not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision," the former governor said during a September debate against his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin. "I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach."
Youngkin has seized on the comments, launching a "Parents Matter" initiative rallying parents across the state.
"McAuliffe wants to suppress and silence parents so his special interest allies can force their radical political agenda into classrooms and tell children what to think instead of teaching them how to think," Youngkin campaign spokesman Christian Martinez told Fox News. "Virginia parents are supporting Glenn Youngkin because he listens to them, respects them, and will restore excellence to our schools, raise teacher pay, and invest in the largest education budget in Virginia history."
McAuliffe told WTKR that parents will be "very involved" in his education plans for Virginia.
The education debate has reached a fever pitch in Northern Virginia where parents have turned out in droves to express concerns about COVID-19 policies, transgender policies, and critical race theory, a framework which involves deconstructing aspects of society to discover "systemic racism" beneath the surface. Some parents have called CRT divisive, claiming it encourages White students to view themselves as oppressors.
Parents in Fairfax County and Loudoun County have spoken up at school board meetings, drawing national attention. Parents in both locations have complained about sexually-explicit books in libraries, mask mandates for children in school, and "equity" trainings that parents say inculcate CRT.
Parents in both locations have also protested Attorney General Merrick Garland's directive to the FBI to investigate what the Justice Department called a "disturbing trend" of "threats of violence" at school board meetings.
The Fox News poll found that Virginia likely voters who expressed support for Youngkin were more likely to support parents telling schools what to teach, at 79%, but that many McAuliffe supporters also expressed the same opinion, at 25%. Self-described White Evangelical likely voters proved likely to support parental control over education, at 70%.
Conducted October 10-13, 2021 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), the Fox News survey includes interviews with 1,004 Virginia registered voters and 726 likely voters randomly selected from a statewide voter file, who spoke with live interviewers on landlines and cellphones. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 for the likely voter sample.