Virginia parents to McAuliffe: Our concerns aren't just a 'divisive' Youngkin campaign tactic

Parents say McAuliffe's attempt to change the subject is 'insulting' and 'dismissive'

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Virginia parents speaking to Fox News on Wednesday condemned some recent comments by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe as "insulting" and "dismissive."

Last week, McAuliffe dismissed parents' concerns about education in the commonwealth as being part of a "divisive tactic" "generated by his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin. 

Last Thursday, a CBS News reporter asked McAuliffe, "If you win, how are you going to work with those parents who have concerns about how things are being taught in schools across the commonwealth?"

"Let's be very clear here," McAuliffe replied. "This is all generated by Glenn Youngkin."

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The Democrat went on to compare the education issue in 2021 to the issue of the MS-13 gang, which Republican nominee Ed Gillespie brought up during Virginia's 2017 election. 

McAuliffe claimed Republicans "try to find a divisive tactic." He insisted that critical race theory "is not taught in Virginia. Critical race theory has never been taught in Virginia. This is a racist dog whistle, and I hate it."

Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Virginia.

Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Virginia. (Reuters)

"Here you and I are talking about an issue that doesn't exist," McAuliffe concluded.

Youngkin himself shared footage of the interview. 

"It's insulting to parents that you're saying this is only a politicians' rhetoric, when it's our voices that are concerned," Brandon Michon, a father of three who has spoken out at Loudoun County School Board meetings for months, told Fox News on Wednesday.

"I was talking at school boards before I ever knew Glenn Youngkin," Michon noted. "My decision to advocate for a better education for my children has zero to do with the governor's race. If there wasn't an election, I'd be saying the exact same things."

"My decision to advocate for a better education for my children has zero to do with the governor's race. If there wasn't an election, I'd be saying the exact same things."

— Brandon Michon, Loudoun County parent

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Michon lamented what he perceived as a general "dumbing down" of standards in Virginia since he was in high school. He said he found it ironic that McAuliffe blamed Youngkin, a political newcomer, for education problems that took years to emerge when McAuliffe himself had served as governor from 2014 to 2018.

"Glenn Youngkin did not generate this movement, it was well underway in Loudoun Country before the convention," Elizabeth Perrin, a Virginia mother, told Fox News on Wednesday. "What he did do was listen to concerned parents when others would not."

Virginians gather to support Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.

Virginians gather to support Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin. (Tyler O’Neil/Fox News)

Perrin said the concerned parent movement is about more than critical race theory.

"It is about the graphic sexual content being pushed at children of all grade levels in our schools. It is about school board members violating open meeting laws," she said.

Elicia Brand, a Virginia mother and co-founder of Army of Parents, condemned McAuliffe's remarks as "insulting" and "dismissive."

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"Terry McAuliffe continues to be insulting and dismissive to parents who want the best for their children, who advocate for their safety, and who desire higher standards of learning for their children — and all children — in all communities," Brand told Fox News. 

"Terry McAuliffe continues to be insulting and dismissive to parents who want the best for their children." 

— Elicia Brand, co-founder of Army of Parents

"Parents advocating for education, safety, and equality is not divisive," she added. "Fighting for parental rights and academic transparency is not divisive."

Brand argued that McAuliffe "either does not understand what the tenets of CRT are or how they are embedded into every class, within every lesson, all day and every day." She demanded that the Democrat ban certain CRT-related "lessons" from the classroom, including: "One race is inherently superior or inferior to another race"; "an individual, simply by virtue of their race, is inherently racist, oppressive, or privileged either consciously or subconsciously"; and "meritocracy is inherently racist and designed by one race to be oppressive to another race."

Yael Levin-Sheldon, a Virginia mother of two boys and communication officer at No Left Turn in Education, told Fox News that "it is a shame that Terry is unable to see that the tenets of CRT are being woven and applied in all areas of K-12 curriculum."

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Levin-Sheldon cited numerous documents which she claimed "apply the tenets of CRT," including the Virginia Department of Education's Ed Equity Road Map (which encourages "anti-racism"), the Mathematics Pathways Initiative, the Social Emotional Learning curriculum, and the Cultural Competency requirements for teachers.

"Virginians deserve a governor who doesn't think the voters are stupid," Levin-Sheldon said. "Virginia's children deserve a governor who doesn't divide them into oppressors and oppressed, but sees them as the bright and beautiful humans that they are."

"Virginians deserve a governor who doesn't think the voters are stupid." 

— Yael Levin-Sheldon, No Left Turn in Education

Nicole Neily, a Virginia mother and president of Parents Defending Education, also claimed that McAuliffe was wrong about CRT in Virginia schools.

"CRT views all human interactions through the prism of race - and those lessons ARE taking place throughout the state," Neily told Fox News. "Children are being encouraged to view immutable characteristics first - and to treat each other accordingly. That is what parents are concerned with, and for good reason."

Glenn Youngkin addresses a crowd in Burke, Virginia.

Glenn Youngkin addresses a crowd in Burke, Virginia. (Tyler O’Neil/Fox News)

As for the "racist dog whistle" charge, a Youngkin spokesperson shot back by noting McAuliffe's apparent hypocrisy on blackface, which became an issue for Virginia's Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, in 2019. 

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"Glenn Youngkin isn't going to be lectured by a guy who called for Ralph Northam's resignation for blackface, then turned around and accepted an endorsement from Northam and campaigns with him and Mark Herring, who also wore blackface," the spokesperson told Fox News. 

Douglas Wilder, who served as Virginia's first Black governor, also condemned McAuliffe for this. 

The McAuliffe campaign did not respond to Fox News' request for comment by press time.