In an unprecedented rebuke, all 133 school superintendents in Virginia are rejecting Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin's efforts to censor school curriculums in the commonwealth.
The Washington Post reports that the school leaders sent a letter to state superintendent of schools Jillian Balow calling for the shutdown of the so-called "tip line" that Youngkin had set up at the beginning of his term to let parents complain about teachers and principals. They also asked the governor to stop his crusade against the teaching of what he has called "divisive" content in schools. The letter also says that a recent administration report that rooted out policies aimed at racial equity was misguided and prepared without input from school districts around the state.
“Division superintendents disagree with your assumption that discriminatory and divisive concepts have become widespread in Virginia school divisions,” the letter from Virginia Association of School Superintendents executive director Howard Kiser states.
It faults Balow for condemning and discontinuing a slate of racial equity programs “without having involved educators in formulating that position or without having provided evidence to support that position.”
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The superintendents were reacting to a report Balow issued last month aimed at fulfilling promises Youngkin made during last year’s political campaign to end the teaching of “critical race theory," an academic framework for studying systemic racism. Of course, the concept has never been on any Virginia school’s K-12 curriculum. Still, Youngkin tapped into a wave of grievances from conservative parents focused on the issue.
The first executive order the new governor issued within hours of being inaugurated on Jan. 15 established the tip line for parents to tell the state about teachers or principals exposing students to materials deemed objectionable. It was greeted with derision across Virginia as thousands of callers left messages and sent emails, doing exactly the opposite of what Youngkin had requested, by praising teachers. Even singer John Legend got involved.
Legend, who has 13.8 million Twitter followers, tweeted: “Black parents need to flood these tip lines with complaints about our history being silenced. We are parents too.”