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Virginia’s new governor, Glenn Youngkin, signed an executive order to stop critical race theory from being taught in schools, even though it’s not in the state's curriculum.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin ran for office last year promising he would ban critical race theory from schools, even though the concept is not taught in the state. Making good on his promise, the Republican governor's first executive order to "ensure excellence in K-12 public education" includes implementing an email "tip line" to allow parents who believe their rights are being violated by teachers and schools to report them.
Youngkin's executive order does not specifically state what “inherently divisive concepts” his administration is targeting. The order also does not elaborate on critical race theory, which is an academic and legal framework that denotes that systemic racism is part of American society—from education and housing to employment and health care.
Youngkin told conservative radio host John Fredericks recently that his administration will set up an email address so parents can report “any instances where they feel that their fundamental rights are being violated, where their children are not being respected, where there are inherently divisive practices in their schools.”
Rich Schragger, a law professor at the University of Virginia, told dcist that it's "unclear what the order is intended to address.” He also said there are constitutional questions surrounding any disciplinary action the state might take against schools or teachers in response to reports made to the tip line.
Virginia teachers are critical of the order, according to dcist. They say it will create division within the schools and be counterproductive.
After the executive order was announced Jan. 15, Virginia Education Association President James J. Fedderman said in a statement “a full and complete education must be rooted in facts and truth, even if some of those are difficult facts.” Fedderman also said having an open discussion about the nation's past is what is needed to unify the country.
A number of states ban or are considering banning critical race theory from being discussed in the classroom. Brookings said its research finds that:
- Nine states—Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Arizona and North Dakota—have passed critical race theory legislation. (However, Arizona’s legislation was overturned in November by the Arizona Supreme Court.)
- None of the state bills that passed mention the words critical race theory, except Idaho and North Dakota.
- About 20 other states have similar legislation pending.
Virginia isn't the first state to allow residents tattle on each other, according to The Washington Post. For example, a 2021 Texas law that essentially bans abortions allows any citizen to sue anyone who supposedly violated the law.
Andre Claudio is an assistant editor at Route Fifty.