Loudoun teachers and parents shared a stage with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin last night at the Save Our Schools rally at Lansdowne Resort.
The rally drew 1,000 people, including School Board member John Beatty (Catoctin), and was presented by Fight for Schools and 1776 Action. The event aimed mobilize Loudouners to push back against the school division’s progressive teachings, and to highlight Youngkin’s proposed plans for the commonwealth.
Parents aligned with Fight for Schools resist the school district’s initiatives to eradicate racial inequity, which, according to a report produced by the Equity Collaborative, permeates every layer of the district, from hiring of staff to treatment of students.
During a panel discussion, Monica Gill, the high school history teacher who joined the high-profile lawsuit against the school district’s transgender student protections, said that teachers are being indoctrinated with Critical Race Theory, and the ideology is trickling down to students.
“Our kids are being indoctrinated in our schools. They’re not being taught how to think. They’re being taught what to think,” Gill said. “We are being told that we have to disrupt and dismantle white supremacy. The reality is that this is being extremely disruptive to our community. Our kids are being encouraged to discriminate against each other and it is heartbreaking to watch this take place.”
Gill, who teaches at Loudoun County High School, had been outspoken about her disapproval of the school district’s equity work long before she took issue with the transgender protections. She has made appearances on various conservative media outlets.
“This is earnest, I love these kids. … I pour my life into these kids,” Gill said of her motivation to speak out against CRT.
The panel was moderated by the one-time congressional candidate for VA-10 and Youngkin surrogate Aliscia Andrews.
During his 20-minute speech, Youngkin promised to ban Critical Race Theory if elected. Although similar bans have been implemented in some states —including Florida, Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho, Tennessee, and Oklahoma—it is unclear the extent to which the ban would limit discourse on race in schools.
He also pointed to the school accreditation process that his opponent, Terry McAuliffe, changed in 2018. McAuliffe changed the requirements for accreditation to permit schools that “do not meet accreditation benchmarks but have significantly improved their pass rates.” Prior to the change, only 78% of Virginia schools were fully accredited. Since McAuliffe’s change took effect, no Virginia school has failed to achieve accreditation, which Youngkin argues has lowered standards for public education throughout the state.
Youngkin also vowed to make school choice a priority, pointing to Virginia’s eight charter schools in comparison to neighboring North Carolina’s 200.
“So, a child’s destiny is not dictated by his or her ZIP code, we’re going to give parents choice in Virginia,” Youngkin said.
His speech also touched on the cost of living, which he said he would improve by eliminating the sales tax on groceries and doubling standard tax deductions to the state income tax.
During his speech, Carson lauded Youngkin as a candidate.
“He is a man who has a great faith in God. We need leaders again who understand the Judeo-Christian values that allowed this country to ascend from nowhere to the pinnacle of the world,” Carson said.
Many of the speakers minimized the coronavirus pandemic—one Loudoun parent and panelist calling it a “plandemic”—met with laughs from the maskless crowd.
Carson himself had a severe bout with COVID last November and received special access to monoclonal antibody treatment from President Trump, which he believes saved his life.
Carson discussed the environment children face in schools, and said that the confluence of COVID mitigation measures and progressive agenda of administrators amount to child abuse.
“Think about our kids. Can you imagine what it must be like to be a young child. You don’t get to see peoples face. You don’t get to see who they are. … That’s such an important part of sociological development in people and they’re missing out on that,” he said.
“And then they’re being told that they may be harboring some horrible fatal disease and even though it might not affect them they may give it to their grandmother, and she may die. Well, grandmothers do get old and they do die. Now you have this kid thinking they have something to do with it,” Carson said.
Of the crux of conservative grievances with public education, the infusion of progressive social justice teachings, Carson has been highly critical, calling CRT a racist ideology.
“If they’re white they’re told that they’re oppressors. And their ancestors were oppressors and just evil people. And if they’re Black, they are victims, they are the oppressed no matter what they do. All of this while you’re trying to develop your self-image. And if that’s not enough, you may not be a girl or a boy,” he added, drawing a laugh from the crowd as he referred to the controversy over transgender student rights.