Va. educators call on Youngkin to rescind critical race theory order, shut down ‘divisive’ tip line

Several educational associations joined together to ask Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to rescind his executive order ending the use of what he called “inherently divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory.”

In a news release, the Virginia Parent Teacher Association and seven other educational groups also want Youngkin to shut down the “tip line” — an email address —  for parents to report when they see or hear something in their child’s school that they believe is divisive.

The groups said that they agreed with Youngkin’s order calling for teaching students the “entirety of our history — both good and bad;” however, they said that existing state curriculum “already meets the definition of non-divisive.”

“No existing Standard of Learning is intended to teach children that one race is superior or inferior to another. Recognizing difficult moments in our nation’s past is not, in itself, divisive,” the groups’ statement said.

Critical race theory is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism. On Thursday, a Virginia Senate committee killed two key pieces of education legislation sought by Youngkin, including one that was designed to eliminate teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools, The Associated Press reported.

Loudoun County had been in the spotlight last year due to heated school board meetings, with several parents voicing their displeasure over school curricula. A private parents education-reform group in the county said they were being targeted for their opposition to racial equity education in schools.

Loudoun County Public Schools board member Brenda Sheridan said last December on NBC’s “Meet the Press ”that critical race theory is not being taught at county schools.

The educators also argue that restricting what is determined to be “age-appropriate and factually accurate discussion led by well-trained teachers is divisive.”

Youngkin’s order calls for a report of policies, programs, training or curricula that falls within the definition of “inherently divisive concepts” within 90 days of the order, which is Feb. 14.

The educators said the establishment of the tip line was based on a “subjective definition of ‘divisive’ and has already proven to be divisive itself.”

Youngkin received backlash from Democratic lawmakers and teachers and parents when he introduced the email address where parents can email his administration on concerns about schools, calling it “divisive, authoritarian and unfairly targeting educators,” The Associated Press reported.

At an event Thursday, Youngkin was asked to comment on the increasing criticism of the tip line. He said it served as “constituent services,” but did not elaborate on what he would do with the tips he received.

“It makes me a better governor when I hear from all Virginians,” Youngkin said, “because it helps inform me of what’s on people’s minds.”

Following the establishment of the tip line, the #ThankATeacher was used to encourage social media users to send an email with information about favorite teachers, how children feel about their current teachers and fond school memories.

The educators said in their statement that public education in Virginia recognizes that every child is different and teachers personalize learning to meet students’ needs, abilities and interests. They also point out several measures that identify areas for student academic growth, including tests and literacy assessments.

There is also school profiles that help parents monitor the quality of education in their schools; and online learning management systems, such as Canvas and Blackboard, that let parents see instructional materials, student work and academic progress.

Furthermore, the educators said that parents have always had an active role in schools through volunteering, running after-school and extracurricular programs and other opportunities; parents serve on school-based strategic planning teams and advisory committees; and school policies are available to the public.

WTOP has reached out to Youngkin for comment on the groups’ statement.

In addition to the Virginia PTA, the statement was signed by the Virginia Association for Colleges and Teacher Educators, Virginia Association of School Superintendents, Virginia Education Association, Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals, Virginia ASCD, Virginia Counselors Association and the Virginia Professors of Educational Leadership.

WTOP’s Gigi Barnett contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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