Not only is Virginia’s new Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin banning the fictional menace of critical race theory from public schools, but he’s also turning the commonwealth into a little Stasi State. He’s setting up a tip line so parents can report to the government any school official they consider to be teaching something “divisive.”
“We’re asking for folks to send us reports,” he told a conservative radio host Monday, The Post reported. “We’re going to make sure we catalogue it all,” he added, “to make sure we’re rooting it out.”
The state’s deputizing of residents to act as informants will have the obvious effect of deterring even mentions of slavery or race, which means Youngkin has imposed a de facto “memory law” whitewashing Virginia’s, and the country’s, deep and ongoing history of white supremacy.
Youngkin is taking a page from Texas, which financially incentivizes ordinary residents to file civil claims against those who violate the state’s new abortion ban. The Texas Right to Life committee tried to set up a tip line for reporting infractions.
Virginia’s new thought policing also includes overriding school districts’ decisions on face masks and firing the University of Virginia’s counsel, Tim Heaphy, who was on leave advising the House’s Jan. 6 committee.
Youngkin’s move on critical race theory also comes with an added dollop of hypocrisy. Public schools, including Virginia’s, don’t teach critical race theory, which was a little-known academic school of thought before the Fox News crowd misrepresented it as a threat to American children.
But do you know which schools do teach “divisive” concepts, including something resembling critical race theory? The private D.C. schools Youngkin had his children attend. And you know who was on the board of governors of one of those schools while it was beefing up its anti-racism policies? Glenn Youngkin.
Youngkin, a professed fan of public school parents’ rights, exercised his own parental rights not to send his children to Virginia public schools but rather to National Cathedral School and St. Albans School, twin private all-girl and all-boy schools in D.C. under the auspices of the Episcopal Church.
National Cathedral’s website listed Youngkin as a member of its governing board from 2016 through 2019, and he was chair of its finance committee. To their credit, both National Cathedral and St. Albans were, during that time, leaders in developing anti-racism teachings, even before the murder of George Floyd heightened national awareness of systemic racism. Youngkin’s spokeswoman, Macaulay Porter, said that Youngkin “stepped off the board after 2019” and that both schools “changed a lot over the years.”
DEI — Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — has been a priority at National Cathedral for many years. The school has an extensive staff devoted to the initiative, as well as programming that includes affinity groups such as diversity forums, an equity board, an intersectionality council and a student diversity leadership conference. A National Cathedral strategic plan approved by the board in 2018 — during Youngkin’s tenure — “includes the mandate to ‘Advance an Inclusive Educational Environment,' " which involved “integrating related action steps into the fabric of everything we are and do as a school community.”
Among the other things National Cathedral has done: made time in the school schedule for “critical conversations around topics of race, anti-racism, social justice, and inclusion”; added courses such as “Black Lives in Literature” and “Courageous Dialogues”; developed new hiring protocols “as a result of our anti-bias work” and required diversity training for all staff members; and included in the school’s summer reading list books such as Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism.”
While Youngkin the governor declares that parents should report teachers who discuss “divisive” things, Youngkin the parent favored a place that believes that “as we hold conversations around honoring each student’s identity, history, and experiences, discomfort helps us to stretch and grow. Learning how to engage in difficult conversations, to listen respectfully, and to consider multiple perspectives are vital.”
St. Albans has undertaken similar anti-racism initiatives. Among the books promoted on the school’s website are “White Fragility,” “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction,” Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s “Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy and the Rise of Jim Crow,” and Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.”
St. Albans also directed faculty to read Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist.” Fox News and other conservative outlets this past fall blasted a St. Albans’s “anti-bias” policy draft.
Youngkin’s own children were lucky to have attended schools that make its students grapple with uncomfortable and, yes, “divisive” issues. So why is he now using the powers of the state to intimidate teachers who would give Virginia’s public school students the same advantage?