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EDITORIAL: Parental rights are fundamental
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EDITORIAL: Parental rights are fundamental

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PHOTO: McAuliffe debate (copy)

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe debates Republican Glenn Youngkin on Sept. 28, 2021.

In July, we took Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin to task for insisting that the state economy was “in the ditch” shortly after Virginia was named as the “best state to do business” by CNBC. Now it’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe’s turn in the pickle barrel.

McAuliffe raised more than a few eyebrows—and parental hackles—when he stated during his recent debate with Youngkin that, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Come again? McAuliffe doesn’t think that parents—who are also voters who elect local school boards and taxpayers who pay the bills—should have a say in what their kids are taught? Or be allowed to criticize educators who work for them?

McAuliffe’s comment was not only an insult to every parent in Virginia, it demonstrated a shocking degree of ignorance from a man who has already served four years as Virginia’s chief executive. The “fundamental right” of parents “to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education and care of the parent’s child” is enshrined in state law—not to mention rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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How does a former governor not know that?

Either McAuliffe was woefully misinformed about a matter of critical importance or worse, he was pandering to educrats who mistakenly think that they—and they alone—get to dictate what Virginia children are taught in public schools. Given the fact that McAuliffe also bragged during the same debate about vetoing a bill that would have alerted parents to any sexually explicit content in instructional materials, more than likely he was pandering to the teachers unions that have generously funded his campaign.

But more and more parents in the commonwealth are unwilling to just sit down and shut up, as demonstrated by large and sometimes unruly crowds that have been showing up at school board meetings to protest policies ranging from mandatory masks (Spotsylvania County), the teaching of critical race theory and the 1619 Project (Stafford County), books in school libraries that contain sexually explicit and graphically violent content (Loudoun County), to transgender pronoun and bathroom policies (Virginia Beach).

Some elected school board members have shamefully tried to squelch this grassroots uprising by canceling or shortening public hearings, cutting off speakers’ mics and even gaslighting parents into believing that what they saw their children being taught with their own eyes during a hellish year of virtual schooling wasn’t actually happening.

But McAuliffe’s glib comment that parents are not entitled to publicly comment on educational content may be the last straw for many of them.

No matter which side of these highly contentious issues they’re on, parents have a duty to monitor what their children are being taught in the public schools. And contrary to McAuliffe, they also have a fundamental right to comment publicly on these and any other school policies that directly affect their children and their communities.

The (Fredericksburg) Free Lance-Star

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