Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe called for the Old Dominion state to "diversify" its teacher base, lamenting that the commonwealth has proportionately more White teachers – and promising a program ostensibly aimed at attracting non-White teachers.
"We got to work hard to diversify our teacher base," McAuliffe said at a campaign event in Manassas Sunday.
"Fifty percent of our students are students of color, 80% of the teachers are White, so what I’m going to do for you, we’ll be the first state in America," he continued. "If you go teach in Virginia for five years in a high-demand area — that could be geographic, it could be course work — we will pay room, board, tuition, any college, any university, or any HBCU here in Virginia."
McAuliffe's reference to historically Black colleges and universities and his framing the program as intended to address this racial disparity suggest that he intends to use the program as a kind of affirmative action, prioritizing non-White prospective teachers.
The McAuliffe campaign did not respond to Fox News' request for comment on the issue. The campaign did not clarify whether McAuliffe supports racial quotas for teachers. His campaign platform aims to "address modern-day segregation in our schools" and aims to "cultivate the next generation of highly qualified and diverse educators."
A spokesman for Glenn Youngkin, McAuliffe's Republican opponent, did not address the racial aspect of the Democrat's plan, but focused on the issue on which both candidates agree – raising teacher pay.
"Forty-three-year career politician Terry McAuliffe failed to keep his promises to raise teacher pay to the national average the first time he ran for governor, so now he’s trying to scare teachers by lying about Glenn Youngkin’s education plan," the spokesman told Fox News. "Unlike McAuliffe, Youngkin will keep his promise to raise teacher pay and propose the largest education budget in Virginia history."
McAuliffe first ran for governor on the issue of raising teacher pay to the national average in 2009, when he lost the Democratic primary to Creigh Deeds. He ran on the issue again in 2013, when he ultimately won the race and became governor. "When I am governor, we are going to pay our teachers what they deserve to be paid," he promised on the campaign trail.
McAuliffe launched his current campaign in 2020, promising, once again, to raise teacher pay. He served as governor from 2014 and 2018, and low teacher pay remains a problem.
Parents in Loudoun County and Fairfax County have raised their voices at school board meetings for months, protesting COVID-19 school closures, extreme sexual content in schools and critical race theory. Youngkin has championed their concerns, pledging to exclude CRT from schools. McAuliffe has dismissed concerns about CRT as a "dog whistle," insisting that CRT has never been taught in Virginia schools.
Meanwhile, Fairfax County Schools paid "anti-racism" leader Ibram X. Kendi $20,000 to speak to the administration and school leaders about racism. Parents Defending Education, an organization of parents that aims to "reclaim our schools from activists imposing harmful agendas," published a contract showing that Loudoun County Schools paid more than $300,000 to The Equity Collaborative for "training." The collaborative's training materials begin with an "Intro to Critical Race Theory."
Virginia's Department of Education is promoting a book that says, "Teachers must embrace theories such as critical race theory."