School daze: Why Democrats are vulnerable on education

Democrats are talking about education, too, but they are focused on teacher pay raises and funding for public schools—not school openings and curricular changes. They’re convinced that these issues are relevant only to disillusioned conservatives uneasy about the pace of progressive change in the Old Dominion. The Democratic front-runner, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, didn’t even mention the issue of opening schools during his campaign launch in front of an elementary school earlier this year. But calling for opening schools full-time is a central theme of Andrew Yang’s Democratic primary message in the mayoral race for much-bluer New York City, one he’s parlayed into a solid first-place position in the polls. And parents in Virginia are expressing their political views with their feet: In heavily Democratic Arlington, about 8 percent of children have withdrawn from the school system over the last year, mostly in favor of private education or homeschooling alternatives. There have been similar rates of departures in neighboring solidly Democratic counties. Exurban Loudoun County, a onetime Republican stronghold that swung dramatically to the Democrats during Donald Trump’s presidency, is a hotbed of statewide opposition to proposed curricular changes. It’s going to be a central bellwether in this year’s governor’s race. Even liberals are warning about the likelihood of a backlash if Democrats fail to rein in the excesses of their activist class. “On education, the steady march of ‘anti-racist’ ideology into curricula of not just elite private schools but now public schools will generate a backlash among normie parents that the administration is studiously ignoring,” wrote progressive-minded political analyst Ruy Teixeira. “The administration is doing nothing to head off this impending culture war in the schools because to do so would bring the wrath of the stridently woke sector of the Democratic Party down upon Biden’s head.”