McAuliffe: I can't define "Critical Race Theory" but it's not taught here in Virginia and it's racist to worry about it

I’ve been resisting my hunch that Glenn Youngkin’s going to win this race, only because Virginia is so blue nowadays. It was Biden +10 less than a year ago.

But then I watch McAuliffe flail on this, and on whether parents should control their kids’ education, and on Joe Biden being to blame for an impending defeat, and that hunch becomes irrepressible.

How did this guy not have a semi-coherent answer prepared for this question, which he must have known he’d be asked eventually?

Was that strategic? Maybe he thought that if he offered a definition, he’d be dragged into a conversation on the topic that could only do him more harm than good. E.g., “Mr. McAuliffe, do you agree that American institutions are hopelessly racially biased towards whites and that white children should be instructed to be remorseful for their racial privilege?” Whatever he’d say in response to that would hurt him with one group or another.

As our greatest president said, better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt. That seems to be McAuliffe’s approach.

CRT is a hot topic in Virginia at the moment, with parents in Loudoun County trying to recall local school board members due to their work on “racial justice initiatives.” Per WaPo, the initiatives “included a public apology for segregation, bias training for teachers, and the banning of Confederate gear in school.” That’s not “teaching” CRT, precisely. But some educators are trying:

Efforts to rewrite social studies curriculum with a goal of teaching from “diverse perspectives” began with Fairfax County teachers in 2018, joining with teachers from Albermarle, Charlottesville and Virginia Beach City. It later became a statewide endeavor to create an “anti-racist and culturally-responsive” curriculum, joined by teachers from Madison and Powhatan counties. The effort centered first on rewriting the fourth grade Virginia Studies curriculum.

At that time, Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) social studies coordinator, Colleen Eddy, identified that the work was intended to address the “overrepresentation of white and Eurocentric history” and the lack of “diverse perspectives in education.” The overhaul of the curriculum was done in collaboration with the framework created by Teaching Tolerance, an extension of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has since been re-monikered to “Learning for Justice”. The objective was to “examine materials, events, and institutions critically attending to power, position, and bias”, with the intended use in 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 11th-grade classrooms.

A perusal of the Learning for Justice professional development and materials pre-populated for teachers to deliver in K-12 classrooms includes articles like the one, in which a teacher calls for “educators to commit to making schools—at all levels—critical active conscience spaces that center people long denied space, voice and freedom.”

Presumably McAuliffe would say that none of that constitutes Critical Race Theory. As for what does constitute Critical Race Theory: Not that, he’d say. QED.

Maybe this?

Conceivably McAuliffe’s relying on the fact that Critical Race Theory, in its most traditional form, is a way of understanding American legal doctrines. It’s a law-school topic, not an elementary-school topic. But the core beliefs that inform it — that whites participate in the racial persecution of minorities whether they intend to or not — are perfectly capable of informing more rudimentary lessons on racial privilege and equity. It’s those core beliefs that make parents nervous about it being taught to kids, not the legal implications.

Meanwhile:

Those polls may be lowballing McAuliffe due to sample issues but no one thinks he’s leading comfortably even if he’s leading. Republicans are pushing hard on education in the home stretch too, partly because it’s the third-most important issue to Virginia voters after the economy and COVID and partly because McAuliffe keeps handing them attack-ad material on the subject. I’m sure Youngkin sees CRT as a way he might be able to claw back some of the suburban parents who shifted left over the past five years under Trump and who helped make Biden’s majority last November. Democrats should worry.