With the upcoming gubernatorial election in Virginia, education has become the driving force and focal point of both former Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) and hopeful Glenn Youngkin (R). As is the practice in almost any election, both sides have been making exaggerated statements and attempting to deal a political death blow to their opponent. However, a recent development out of Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) may prove to be the deciding factor in who wins the argument – if not the actual race.
Parents might rightly expect to have some knowledge of what their children are being taught in the classroom; one could assume that at least some level of transparency exists between the concerned parties. However, according to the Daily Caller, LCPS requires that any parent who wishes to view certain elements of the curriculum sign a document similar to a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
Agenda or Business Practice?
LCPS is a licensed user of Second Step programs, a curriculum that is reported to focus on “social-emotional learning.” According to Committee for Children – the non-profit behind Second Step – the materials are “fundamental to achieving social justice.”
The legal document reprinted by the Daily Caller lays out a series of steps that the parent must agree to before viewing the curriculum. “I understand that the Authorized Presentation of Second Step Materials I am about to view is not a public event, and that copying, broadcast or recording of any kind is not permitted,” the form reads. “I agree to comply with the terms of the above Special License.”
The agreement requires that a single-use login be created and that parents sign the document in advance of being shown the materials for their child’s specific grade.
But is Second Step trying to keep parents from discussing the content of its programs, or is this more a method of ensuring that copyrighted content remains under control? Materials produced by a company are often subject to NDAs, and it is common for an organization to want to keep their produced content safe from infringements. However, it makes a tough sell to convince parents that they should not be able to openly discuss and evaluate the content their child has already been taught with other concerned parties.
Education has become the fulcrum on which the Virginia gubernatorial election is likely to turn. As an “off-season” election in a state that is so often described as “well, it’s pretty blue,” it is perhaps surprising that the race has garnered so much national attention. The issues of Loudoun County, Attorney General Merrick Garland seeking to set the FBI on disruptive parents, and other myriad educational problems have coalesced into the prime motivator for voters.
Parents across the nation have been granted a rare window of transparency into the direction of education in America. The pandemic and ensuing online classes allowed mothers and fathers to see and hear the content being taught, and with it, the bias and subtle indoctrination.
While promoting his book in 2019, McAuliffe spoke with C-Span to outline the problems he saw with education, saying, “We got our textbooks, but, you know, that has to be a big part of how do you fit into the social work of our nation and our fabric. How we deal with one another is to me as important as, you know, your math class or your English class and so forth.”
Pointing out – and naturally taking a political potshot – where removing the focus away from more traditional educational attainment goals has led, a spokesperson for the Youngkin campaign said:
“Terry McAuliffe introduced political agendas like critical race theory into the Virginia education system back in 2015. He lowered academic standards and dragged our children’s math and reading performances down with those diminished expectations.”
An Opening Salvo?
Second Step materials are in use in locations all over the country. That the battle for educational openness is being played out in Virginia does not mean that it will end there. McAuliffe and Youngkin are merely the frontlines, the vanguard, in a war that will be fought in battleground states and beyond.
Regardless of who wins on November 2, neither side will be ultimately satisfied. If McAuliffe regains his former post, opponents of CRT and school indoctrination will likely redouble their efforts. If Youngkin pulls off a surprise victory, those same parents will be emboldened by the scent of possibility.
~ Read more from Mark Angelides.