A week after Republicans won the Virginia governor’s race, it is increasingly obvious that Fox News and red Twitter did not invent parental anger about what’s been happening in public schools. Nor is frustration limited to the suburbs — or peculiar to the Old Dominion. Efforts to lower academic standards and scale back educational opportunities in the name of racial equity are backfiring on liberals from coast to coast, including in the bluest big cities in America.

Consider San Francisco. Mayor London Breed (D) just endorsed the recall of three far-left school board members in a February special election, including someone she appointed in 2018. Other Democratic officeholders and donors also back their removal, and recall organizers submitted 80,000 signatures to remove the commissioners, undercutting the argument that this is some right-wing conspiracy.

The recall has been a long time coming. Anger boiled over in the Bay Area as schools stayed closed months after most districts restarted classes. The San Francisco board voted in January to rename 44 schools, including those that honored George Washington, Paul Revere and Abraham Lincoln, before reversing itself amid national mockery in April. But the board’s most fateful mistake may have been messing around with Lowell High School.

Lowell has long been one of the United States’ most prestigious public schools. Alumni include three Nobel laureates and Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer. Rather than try to make other schools as great as Lowell, the school board voted to start admitting students there by lottery — and no longer consider grade-point average, essays and test scores.

Eliminating gifted and talented programs has become fashionable on the left, based on well-intentioned desires to close the achievement gap for African American and Latino students, but it’s alienating many parents — as well as graduates — who prospered under higher standards. Throwing less-prepared students into classes with motivated children forces teachers to reduce the rigor of lesson plans so that everyone can keep up.

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Complicating matters is the fact that, as of 2018, roughly a quarter of San Francisco’s children already attend private schools, compared to 9 percent in California. Any parent who can afford to do so will likely consider private school if they believe a public system is lowering standards. “Sadly, our school board’s priorities have often been severely misplaced,” Breed said in a statement. “And parents feel members of the board aren’t listening.”

Breed’s warning is a reminder that national Democrats risk being branded as the anti-education party if they don’t speak out more forcefully against continuing assaults on gifted and talented programs.

The Virginia governor’s race shows the issue’s potency. While much has been made of Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin’s emphasis on critical race theory, the Republican also promised to fight against weakening standards for magnet schools. He said he would push for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a top-flight school in Fairfax County, to revert to a solely merit-based admission process. Last year, the local school board eliminated an entrance exam for the school and told reviewers to instead consider “experience factors,” such as a child’s socioeconomic background.

Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe boasted about reducing the number of tests that children in Virginia are required to take, but Youngkin ripped him for lowering standards so that failing schools could still get accreditation. Youngkin’s strategists say promising to raise education standards helped Republicans make meaningful inroads among Asian American and Latino voters. Reacting to McAuliffe’s loss, Democratic strategist James Carville told PBS: “What went wrong is this stupid wokeness.”

Democrats other than Breed are reversing course, too. New York Mayor-elect Eric Adams (D) promised during the campaign not to implement a plan announced by outgoing Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio to eliminate elementary school gifted and talented programs in the nation’s largest school district. Adams said he wants to preserve the programs and expand additional opportunities for advanced learning.

But California keeps moving in the opposite direction. Confronted with rising numbers of minority children getting Ds and Fs, some schools have decided to simply stop giving out Ds and Fs. The districts in Los Angeles and San Diego have reportedly told teachers not to penalize students for bad classroom behavior, poor work habits or missed deadlines.

None of these allowances prepare children to succeed in college or careers. If testing shows a widening achievement gap, it doesn’t mean we need to hold back the students who are doing well. It means we need to do more to lift up those who have fallen behind the most during the pandemic. This is the true civil rights battle of our time.