Terry McAuliffe wants the voters of Virginia to give him a second term as governor, yet he refuses to be honest with them about the curricula to which students are subjected in the Old Dominion’s public school system. He continues to insist that Critical Race Theory (CRT) isn’t taught in the state’s schools while accusing his Republican opponent in Virginia’s gubernatorial contest of using CRT as a “racist dog whistle.” In reality, as City Journal’s Christopher Rufo has pointed out, the Commonwealth’s education system was initially infected with this pernicious ideology during McAuliffe’s first term as governor and it has rapidly metastasized during the past four years under his Democratic successor Ralph Northam.
Gov. Northam’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, James D. Lane, has made CRT a priority. Not long after he was appointed, for example, Lane issued Superintendent’s Memo #50-19. This document included a reading list consisting of core CRT texts such as Foundations of Critical Race Theory in Education, by Edward Taylor, David Gillborn, and Gloria Ladson-Billings; White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo, and Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Not coincidentally, school districts began implementing CRT shortly after Lane took over the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). As Elizabeth Schultz of Parents Defending Education writes in the Fairfax County Times:
Efforts to rewrite social studies curricula with a goal of teaching from “diverse perspectives” began with Fairfax County teachers in 2018, joining with teachers from Albermarle, Charlottesville and Virginia Beach City. It later became a statewide endeavor to create an “anti-racist and culturally-responsive” curriculum, joined by teachers from Madison and Powhatan counties.… At that time, Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) social studies coordinator, Colleen Eddy, identified that the work was intended to address the “overrepresentation of white and Eurocentric history” and the lack of “diverse perspectives in education.”
To facilitate the revision of social studies curricula, the VDOE website includes a “What We Are Reading” page that is essentially a compendium of resources intended for use in the teaching of CRT. It includes such tomes as Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire; How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi; Using Equity Audits to Create Equitable and Excellent Schools by Linda E. Skrla, and Cultural Proficiency: A manual for School Leaders by Randall B. Lindsey, Kikanza Nuri-Robins, et al. The VDOE has a disclaimer at the bottom of this page to the effect that it doesn’t necessarily endorse the views expressed or the data presented on the list. Why, then, are these books on a VDOE reading list?
Like McAuliffe, the VDOE wants it both ways. Educrats like James Lane know the majority of voters who understand the tenets of CRT do not want it taught to their children. A September survey conducted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) explicitly asked: “Do you support or oppose ‘critical race theory’ being taught in K-12 schools in the U.S.?” Only 16 percent strongly supported it. Most voters do want their children taught genuine history, including the facts about racism. Thus, Democrats like McAuliffe and apparatchiks like Lane must rebrand CRT as “teaching diverse perspectives.” But, as Jason Riley writes at the Wall Street Journal, it’s just another pitch for racial preferences:
The theory comes out of the legal academy, and early proponents argued that race, ethnicity and gender should be used as academic credentials in hiring and promoting professors. It’s less a serious academic discipline than a hustle. It posits that racial inequality today is the sole fault of whites and the sole responsibility of whites to solve — through racial preferences for blacks. It’s employed by elites primarily for the benefit of elites, though in the name of helping the underprivileged. Ultimately, it’s about blaming your problems on other people — based on their race — which might be the last thing we should be teaching our children.
This is what Columbia University linguist John McWhorter is getting at in his new book, Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America. He argues that many progressives have “fallen under the impression that pious, unempirical virtue signaling about race is a form of moral enlightenment and political activism.” McWhorter is at pains to point out that he isn’t using the term “religion” as a simile. He clearly believes “woke racism” is a religion and that it encourages black people to see themselves as “eternally victimized souls.” CRT, in McWhorter’s view, is a set of sacred scriptures that depict nonwhites as “akin to the captive oarsman slave straining below decks in chains.”
Moreover, the authors of these sacred scriptures are the very sages we find listed in Superintendent’s Memo #50-19 and on the VDOE website: Robin DiAngelo, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ibram X. Kendi, et al. Yet McAuliffe expects Virginia voters to believe it is a coincidence that these CRT evangelists are recommended by the executive officer of the Virginia Department of Education and included on its “What We Are Reading” list. It doesn’t pass the laugh test. CRT is alive and well in Virginia. If the voters of the Old Dominion want to rid themselves of Critical Race Theory, they really have only one choice when they vote on Election Day — and it isn’t the transparently mendacious Terry McAuliffe.