Virginia’s Department of Education is promoting a book that says "teachers must embrace theories such as critical race theory."
Terry McAuliffe has said throughout his gubernatorial campaign that the radical ideology is not taught in Virginia schools.
The department’s website provides resources for its equity initiatives, which includes a tab titled "What We Are Reading." The list, comprised of resources the equity office recommends and references in its work, includes books by anti-racist advocate Ibram X. Kendi and Abolitionist Teaching Network co-founder Bettina Love.
"Lastly, teachers must embrace theories such as critical race theory, settler colonialism, Black feminism, dis/ability, critical race studies, and other critical theories, that have the ability to interrogate anti-Blackness …" Love wrote in "We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom."
The book was sixth on the Virginia department’s list and was also promoted in a March 2020 newsletter. While the inclusion isn't evidence that critical race theory is being taught in the state's schools, Love's book provides guidance for educators, stating that teachers need to question Whiteness and do away with phrases like "work hard" and "be nice."
McAuliffe, a Democrat, has repeatedly said critical race theory is not taught in Virginia schools and has said his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, uses contention surrounding the radical ideology to divide people.
"It’s a dog whistle," McAuliffe, a former governor, told WAVY TV 10 on Oct. 7. "It’s racial. It’s division. And it’s used by Glenn Youngkin and others … to divide people."
"It’s not taught here in Virginia," he said repeatedly through the interview and again during an Oct. 10 CNN appearance.
"This is a made-up – This is a Trump, Betsy DeVos, Glenn Youngkin plan to divide people," McAuliffe said during the interview on "State of the Union."
He previously said claims that critical race theory was being taught in Virginia schools was a "right-wing conspiracy," Fox News reported in June.
McAuliffe and Youngkin are tied at 46% among Virginia’s registered voters, according to a Monmouth University poll published Oct. 20.
Education has been a contentious focal point in the months leading up to the Nov. 2 election, as school board meetings, particularly in Loudon County, have erupted with parents and officials clashing over issues ranging from critical race theory and equity to gender.
The McAuliffe campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
‘Teachers need to be taught how to question Whiteness’
The Virginia Department of Education's website said its EdEquityVA initiative is "focused on establishing equity targets, measuring equity outcomes … and implementing systemic policy and regulatory changes." It also said an equity office within the department is charged with leading "efforts to advance education equity, eliminate achievement gaps and increase opportunity, and decrease disproportionality in student outcomes."
The equity program includes a variety of resources, including an audit tool used to determine whether a school is hitting certain standards. It, for example, asks whether the student code of conduct includes an anti-racism statement or if language was removed from the code that "categorizes racial justice movements (Black Power, Black Lives Matter, La Raza, etc.) as racist, hate speech, or controversial."
At the top of its reading list, which included Love’s book, the Department of Education states that the books "are the resources the Office of Equity and Community Engagement references in the development of our work, as well as texts we recommend."
At the bottom, it states: "Some of the links on the #EdEquityVA pages lead you to websites not associated with the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education. VDOE does not necessarily endorse the views expressed or the data and facts presented on these external sites."
A spokesman for the department, Ken Blackstone, told Fox News: "Critical race theory is not included in Virginia's Standards of Learning."
He did not address questions about whether the ideology is taught in schools or if administrators incorporate it into their policies.
In addition to explicitly endorsing critical race theory, Love’s book promotes other racially charged changes to the education system.
"Teachers need to be taught how to question Whiteness and White supremacy, how to check and deal with their White emotions of guilt and anger, and how these all impact their classrooms," Love wrote in her book.
"Teachers must demand the end of high-stakes testing and the yelling of slogans at dark children, such as ‘knowledge is power,’ ‘work hard,’ ‘be nice,’ and ‘no excuses,’ because all you need is grit," she wrote.
Abolitionist Teaching Network
Virginia isn’t alone in its involvement with Love. The Biden administration previously promoted a handbook published by the Abolitionist Teaching Network, the activist organization Love co-founded.
The federal Department of Education linked to the handbook – littered with language that appears to fall in line with critical race theory doctrine – in its guidance on how public schools could spend coronavirus relief funding, Fox News reported in July.
"Abolitionist Teachers" should "[b]uild a school culture that engages in healing and advocacy. This requires a commitment to learning from students, families, and educators who disrupt Whiteness and other forms of oppression," the handbook states, for example.
The Biden administration backpedaled hours after Fox News reported on the inclusion – three months after the guidance was published – and removed the link.
"The Department does not endorse the recommendations of this group, nor do they reflect our policy positions," a department spokesperson told Fox News. "It was an error in a lengthy document to include this citation."
The spokesperson did not elaborate further and did not say why the link was initially included.
Meanwhile, at least two Biden administration officials have ties to Love.
Deputy Education Secretary Cindy Marten led the San Diego school system when it paid Love $11,000 for a speaking event. Marten was nominated to the federal education department before the guidance was posted but wasn’t confirmed until after.
Additionally, the head of the office that published the document, acting Assistant Secretary Donna Harris-Aikens, is also connected to Love. Harris-Aikens was a senior director for the National Education Association when it hosted Love as a speaker at a June 2020 event.