Activists rally outside of Capitol to protest critical race theory in schools: 'Government is not a co-parent'

GOP legislators who spoke say they are embracing education issues ahead of the 2022 midterms

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Activists descended onto Capitol Hill Tuesday as part of a protest against ideas like critical race theory (CRT) in education.

The event – titled Government Is NOT a Co-Parent – was hosted by the Independent Women's Network and featured speeches from multiple members of Congress. Signs read "We've had enough" and "Government shouldn't control our kids" – touching on tension among administrators, educators and parents across the country.

Tuesday's event comes as CRT opponents are celebrating multiple GOP wins in Virginia, which are thought to serve as a sign for things to come in 2022.

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"Right now, there is a revolution occurring where parents are starting to take back their schools, and I think we need to be voices for that," Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, told Fox News after his speech at the rally. He added that Republicans should embrace the issue ahead of midterms as the battle over education is playing out across the country – not just in Virginia.

"Youngkin’s success reveals that Republicans can and must become the party of parents," read a recent memo from the Republican Study Committee (RSC) about the campaign of Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin. "There is real energy from parents that we need to understand."

Parents Defending Education co-founder Nicole Neily speaking at parents' rally on Capitol Hill on Nov. 16.

Parents Defending Education co-founder Nicole Neily speaking at parents' rally on Capitol Hill on Nov. 16.

Defenders argue that CRT-type training helps enhance dominant groups' understanding and empathy of what the oppressed experience on a regular basis. These types of trainings have also been promoted as ways to "dismantle" or weaken alleged structures imposing burdens through bias and discrimination.

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Angela Onwuachi-Willig, an expert on critical race theory at Boston University School of Law, told the Boston Globe that CRT helped people understand the complexity of race – beyond "simple" narratives that they may have been taught.

While states generally handle education policy, federal actors have become more enmeshed in the issue in recent months.

Crowd gathers for Independent Women's Network rally on Capitol Hill Nov. 16, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Crowd gathers for Independent Women's Network rally on Capitol Hill Nov. 16, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

"With Joe Biden in the White House and his dangerous agenda – and Nancy Pelosi and these socialist Democrats running the Congress – we have to fight back," said Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., who chairs the RSC.

He added that the election in Virginia was an "inspiration," with results that would play out in other areas during midterms.

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President Biden's Education Department previously came under fire for pushing grants for what appeared to be CRT-related ideas. Meanwhile, part of his coronavirus relief has been leveraged to push "equity" and other initiatives. More controversially, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo that raised questions about how the administration perceived purported intimidation from parents at school board meetings.

Roy, who attended high school in Loudoun County, Virginia, told Fox News: "I can promise you that if the people put Republicans put back in charge, we'll be having a lot of oversight hearings in this administration."