Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin’s come-from-behind victory was powered by parents. Concerns about what is being taught in Virginia’s schools—and how it is being taught—galvanized support for Mr. Youngkin. His success offers Republicans a road map to become the parents’ party.
Marie Mierzejewski, 40, entrusted her kids to the Albemarle County schools near Charlottesville because they had a reputation for excellence in “the basics, like reading, writing and arithmetic.” This spring, the county veered in a different direction with a new curriculum: “Courageous Conversations About Race.” Drawing heavily on the ideas of Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to Be an Antiracist,” and peppered with words like “cisgender,” “white privilege,” and “non-Christian folx [sic],” the lessons encouraged children to view themselves through the prisms of race, gender, sexuality, and class.
Ms. Mierzejewski was uncomfortable with the new curriculum’s overt left-wing agenda. She was also frustrated because “teaching these critical-race-theory and equity lessons seemed far more important than catching all these kids up in their academics.”
Ms. Mierzejewski and dozens of other parents in the county tried and failed to get the county schools to focus again on the three Rs, so they looked elsewhere for relief. Many embraced Mr. Youngkin, a Republican former businessman, as their champion. Their support was turbocharged when Mr. McAuliffe scoffed at their concerns during a debate. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” the Democratic former governor said. Mr. Youngkin’s popularity surged among voters who said education was their biggest issue. These voters preferred Mr. McAuliffe by a margin of 33 percentage points in September. By Election Day, they preferred Mr. Youngkin by 9 points.
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