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A tip line set up by new Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin for parents to report the teaching of “inherently divisive concepts” in the commonwealth’s public schools is triggering teachers and Democrats, according to a report.
Youngkin, a Republican businessman, took office earlier this month after being elected in November. He defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee who had served as Virginia’s governor 2014-2018 and was attempting a return to office.
The victory by Youngkin was fueled in part by his pledge to prevent critical race theory (CRT) from being taught in the schools. He appeared to make good on that pledge by including a CRT ban among a series of executive orders he issued soon after taking office.
One moment seen as a turning point in the campaign came in September, when McAuliffe drew criticism for saying, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
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‘Resource for parents’
A Youngkin spokesman said the CRT tip line was set up “as a resource for parents, teachers and students to relay any questions or concerns” and was a “customary constituent service,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
“A resource for parents, teachers and students to relay any questions or concerns.”
Proponents claim CRT represents an attempt to correct the past teaching of American history regarding issues of race. Opponents claim CRT is an attempt to portray White people as “oppressors” who should feel guilty about actions by previous generations of White people.
In the coming weeks, Virginia schools are scheduled to launch a new high-school-level African-American history course that was announced in 2020 – but some teachers who are looking forward to teaching the course are concerned that Youngkin’s tip line may lead to disruptions in teaching it, the Times-Dispatch reported.
Dianne Carter de Mayo, a history teacher in Gloucester County, told the newspaper that most fellow teachers she knows were fearful about the tip line.
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“Someone’s career and livelihood could be endangered,” she said. “It’s scaring people to death.”
De Mayo, who is Black, claimed that another Black teacher expressed concern that a bulletin board display she was preparing for February’s commemoration of Black History Month could potentially be called into question.
“She was saying, ‘What if I get reported to the governor for what I put up?’” de Mayo said.
De Mayo said she spent part of the summer participating in a church-group panel to familiarize parents with the new African-American history course that’s scheduled to begin in high schools next month, the Times-Dispatch reported.
Meanwhile, proposed legislation backed by Youngkin’s administration states that “inherently divisive concepts” include teaching that one race is “inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously,” and that “meritocracy or traits, such as a hard work ethic, are racist or sexist or were created by a particular race to oppress another race,” the Times-Dispatch reported.
Or, as state Sen. Jen Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach, sponsor of the legislation, explained it at a hearing, “Anything that’s dividing, that’s making one group think they’re superior to the other,” the report said.
“Anything that’s dividing, that’s making one group think they’re superior to the other.”
As an example, Kiggans cited a Fairfax County school exercise called “Privilege Bingo” that asked students to identify aspects of their lives that made them more privileged than others. The listed aspects for students to check off, or not, included terms like “White,” “Native English speaker,” “Able-bodied,” and “Military kid,” the newspaper reported.
But some state Democrats argue that Youngkin and Republicans haven’t been clear enough about what they mean by “inherently divisive concepts.”
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Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, told the Times-Dispatch she opposed divisive concepts “being prohibited when I don’t even know how that is being defined.”
“All of a sudden we have a problem with instruction in our schools,” Locke said, “when all throughout my high school career, I was taught that I was inherently inferior. And now all of a sudden you have a problem with divisive concepts.”
GOP-backed legislation similar to Kiggans’ bill is also circulating in Virginia’s House, the Times-Dispatch reported.