Political outsider, successful business leader, and Republican nominee for governor Glenn Youngkin’s campaign announced a new, family-led mobilization effort in response to Terry McAuliffe’s anti-parents comments. In last week’s debate Terry made the claim that parents do not have a fundamental right to have a say in their children’s education.
“Terry McAuliffe showed us his heart when he said that ‘parents don’t matter.’ He immediately disqualified himself from office,” said Glenn Youngkin. “I believe that parents matter, and I’ll never put government bureaucrats or politicians between parents and their kids. As governor, I’ll empower parents and restore excellence and commonsense in education.”
During last week’s Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce debate, Terry McAuliffe made a shocking and disqualifying statement by saying, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
The Youngkin campaign today launched, “Parents Matter,” a movement of families, parents, children, and caring neighbors that will stand up to and reject Terry McAuliffe’s attempts to silence parents and stand between them and their children’s education.
Supporters of the Parents Matter movement will organize, inform voters of Terry McAuliffe’s disqualifying position, and grow the movement by circulating petitions, distributing fliers at community events, educating themselves on the facts surrounding the issue, and engaging their neighbors.
In last week’s debate, Youngkin confronted McAuliffe for vetoing two bipartisan bills that would have required schools to notify parents of sexually explicit content in instructional materials, including assigned reading. Here is the key exchange in the debate, in which McAuliffe twice stated that parents do not matter:
YOUNGKIN: What we’ve seen over the course of the last 20 months is our school systems refusing to engage with parents. In fact, in Fairfax County this past week, we watched parents so upset because there was such sexually explicit material in the library they had never seen, it was shocking. And in fact, you vetoed the bill that would have informed parents that they were there. You believe school systems should tell children what to do. I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.
MCAULIFFE: So, first of all, this shows how clueless Glenn Youngkin is, he doesn’t understand what the laws were because he’s never been involved in helping Virginia, but it was not. The parents had the right to veto bills, veto books, Glenn, not to be knowledge [sic] about it. Also, take them off the shelves and I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision.
YOUNGKIN: You vetoed it.
MCAULIFFE: Yeah, I stopped the bill that—I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.
As The Washington Post Fact Checker noted, “While the former governor knocked Youngkin for not understanding the basics of the law that was debated, he mischaracterized the bills he vetoed. Neither bill would have allowed parents to ‘veto books’ or ‘take them off the shelves,’ according to the bills and the veto statements issued by McAuliffe at the time.”
McAuliffe’s opposition to parents’ rights contradicts Virginia law, which states, “A parent has a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.” (§ 1-240.1)
The day after the debate, McAuliffe, tripled down on his “parents don’t matter” stance in an interview:
ROBINSON: Do you think parents should have a say in curriculum?
MCAULIFFE: Listen, we have a board of ed working with the local school boards to determine the curriculum for our schools. You don’t want parents coming in in every different school jurisdiction.
On Saturday, October 2, 2021, The Free Lance-Star Editorial Board took McAuliffe to task. They wrote that “McAuliffe’s comment was not only an insult to every parent in Virginia, it demonstrated a shocking degree of ignorance from a man who has already served four years as Virginia’s chief executive.”
As governor, McAuliffe failed students when his State Board of Education lowered school accreditation standards. In 2020, The Washington Post Editorial Board called Virginia’s lowering of academic standards a “mistake,” writing, it is “Little wonder, then, that results from the latest national testing, last year’s NAEP, showed significant drops in reading scores for both fourth- and eighth-grade Virginia students. … Virginia officials have long boasted about requiring more of their students than what is mandated by the federal government. Their constituents should be asking them why they would want to abandon that principle.”
Earlier this year, McAuliffe smeared parents concerned about critical race theory in schools as conspiracy theorists. But in 2015, McAuliffe’s Department of Education held a training for Virginia teachers that instructed them to “incorporate critical race theory (CRT) lens,” “embrace critical race theory” and “engage in race-conscious teaching and learning.”