Opinion Why Republicans May Go All In on Parental Rights
White people in the US have long controlled public institutions. Racial progress has paid the price.
Major institutions in the U.S. — including law enforcement, school leaders and the media — have sometimes hindered or openly opposed racial progress. In June 1963, as two newly admitted Black students attempted to register at the all-white University of Alabama, Gov. George Wallace positioned himself in a doorway to block their path. Never mind that the U.S. Supreme Court had pronounced segregated schools unconstitutional nine years earlier. Wallace was a staunch segregationist, famously declaring in his inaugural address: "Segregation now. Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever."Start the day smarter.
Thanks to the state’s proximity to the Beltway, off-yearget outsize attention as prophetic bellwethers of emerging trends in national elections. So you can be sure that what happens in the 2021 contest featuring Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin will be reported and studied to death, particularly if the lavishly financed “outsider businessman” in a place where the GOP hasn’t won a statewide contest since 2009.
Off-year elections typically generate lower than average turnout, so candidates invariably have to possess both a base-mobilization and a swing-persuasion strategy. The former is particularly important in this hyperpolarized era. It’s pretty clear Youngkin has settled on exploiting anxieties about public education as his best option for flipping suburban swing voters who had been trending Democratic and for getting MAGA stalwarts to go to the polls and encourage others to do so as well.
Local school boards emerge as hot races in November election
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — In a school district near the Ohio state capital, school board members up for reelection this year have been subjected to a steady stream of lawsuits and attacks, both in-person and online. In another, an incumbent up for reelection who supports student mask requirements received a letter from someone angered by her stance who warned: “We are coming after you.” A 15-year veteran board member in yet another Ohio district decided against running for reelection because of the escalating public attacks. © Provided by Associated Press Campaign yard signs line a yard Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in Worthington, Ohio.
In this third pandemic school year, of course, there are plenty of anxieties to exploit: fears about learning lost during suspensions of in-person school instruction (in Virginia, public schools all reopened no later than March), fears about mask and vaccination policies (Virginia has a statewide school mask mandate this school year), and, as always, fears about educational quality and curricula. In the latter category, Virginia has been a hotbed of disturbances over the contrived issues ofand allegedly “woke” offenses to conservative doctrine on sexuality and gender identity.
Youngkin has shrewdly positioned himself as the champion of parental rights in education. He has battened onof school-board hostility to protesting parents, and he has focused intensely on a remark McAuliffe made at a candidates’ debate in September, as by the New York Times:
DeSantis Vows to 'Vindicate' Parental Rights As Florida Schools Impose Mask Mandates
At least two school districts will require students to wear masks this fall, going against an executive order making face coverings optional across the state.Speaking at a press conference in Surfside on Tuesday, DeSantis said he believed it should be up to the parents to decide whether to force their children to wear face coverings during in-person instruction.
Mr. Youngkin attacked Mr. McAuliffe over his 2017 veto of a bill permitting parents to opt out of allowing their children to study material deemed sexually explicit. The dispute was prompted by a mother who objected to her son, a high school senior, reading literary classics including Toni Morrison’s “Beloved.”
Mr. McAuliffe shot back that he did not believe “parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” In the weeks since, he’s stood by those remarks, saying that the state Board of Education and local school boards should determine what is taught in the classroom.
So the Republican is now calling some of his campaign eventsto dramatize T-Mac’s purported allegiance to soulless educational bureaucrats and teachers unions.
What’s smart (if disingenuous) about this framing of education issues is that it appeals equally to anxious swing voters who don’t trust local school boards, administrators, or teachers; conservative base voters who dislike “government schools” to begin with (e.g., parents who send their kids to private schools or homeschool them); and voters without kids at home who resent paying school taxes. It should be remembered that parental rights have been thein many states; they have largely that used to be front and center in GOP education policy.
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Focusing on highly variable disgruntlement with public schools is also smart for Youngkin because it may disguise the weakness of his positions on specific pandemic-related issues such as masking and vaccine mandates, which “the base” demands of him. McAuliffe, echoing the successful strategy, is focusing on his opponent as a puppet of anti-vaxxers, of the anti-abortion movement, and of Donald J. Trump, who endorsed the Republican but has so far avoided direct involvement in the general-election contest.
McAuliffe remains the favorite thanks to Virginia’s recent emergence as a blue if somewhat competitive state. He has led Youngkin inbut not by big margins. In the s, he’s up by 2.6 percent, which is close, particularly given the difficulty of predicting turnout.
If Youngkin wins with a parental-rights message focused on schools, make no mistake: There will be an immense number of imitators in 2022 (certainly in state elections and perhaps in federal contests). There’s a lot riding on what Old Dominion voters decide on November 2.
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Biden has resisted calls to 'use the bully pulpit' to push Senate Democrats to nuke the filibuster, even as Trump allies push false election claims.But nine months into his presidency, Biden and Democrats have made no headway to overcome Republican opposition to reform voting, failing to override voting restrictions that several GOP-led state legislatures adopted after the 2020 election.