RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked parents to use a new tip line to share any “inherently divisive practices” in schools with his administration.
The governor touted the email address Monday during an appearance on The John Fredericks Show, calling on parents to send “reports and observations” to make the state aware of any teaching concepts they consider divisive.
“We have set up a particular email address called firstname.lastname@example.org, again email@example.com, for parents to send us any instances where they feel their fundamental rights are being violated, where their children are not being respected, where there are inherently divisive practices in their schools,” Youngkin said.
Youngkin said his administration will make sure to catalogue the emails they receive to ensure they have “great insight into what’s happening at the school level” and to expand the state’s ability to root out those practices.
“We are asking for input right from parents to make sure we can go right to the source as we continue to work to make sure that Virginia’s education system is on the path to reestablish excellence,” Youngkin said Monday.
The first executive order Youngkin signed after taking office directed the state’s top education officials “to end the use of inherently divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, and to raise academic standards.”
Critical race theory, an academic framework based on the idea that racism is systemic and is perpetuated in society, was one of the main issues during the heated election cycle. Despite concerns from parents and Youngkin’s order to block it, the Virginia Department of Education said repeatedly that critical race theory is not part of the commonwealth’s K-12 curriculum.
Youngkin disputed those assertions on Monday, citing reports of a class in a Fairfax County high school that had a “privilege bingo” activity. According to reports, students were asked to identify their privilege on a bingo board and the school system apologized “for any offense it may have unintentionally caused.”
“These are the fundamental tenets that critical race theory has embedded in our school system and I think it’s laughable when people say there is not a critical race theory course in the class. Well, of course they’re not,” the governor told Fredericks.
“These are the tenets that have made their way into the classroom and when you see a privilege bingo being used in high school, all you can do is shake your head and say this is exactly what we’re talking about and why I signed that executive order.”
The governor did not expand on any other examples of “inherently divisive” teaching concepts or share how his administration would manage the email tip line.
Fredericks asked the governor about his authority to issue the executive order, pointing to the legal challenges Youngkin’s administration is facing over his order to give parents the option to send their children to school without a mask.
Youngkin responded that the state’s school curriculum is reviewed continuously, allowing his administration to look over any concept that they feel should be removed. He did repeat his call for Virginia schools to teach all history.
“This is the moment for us to all stand up together and say we embrace teaching all history, and the good and the bad. And in fact we have incredibly, incredibly abhorrent chapters, dark chapters in our history that we have to teach so we understand where we come from so we don’t go there.”
“But what this executive order clearly, clearly states is practices like teaching that one group is inherently privileged and another is a victim or that in fact people today should be held responsible for the sins of the past, these are the kinds of teaching practices that exist in our schools and we are going to get them out.”
In a tweet Wednesday, Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter called out a story from Newsweek — retweeted by CNN’s Jim Acosta — as “misinformation.” The story had a headline indicating that the email address was meant for parents to report teachers.
“The gov’s office set up firstname.lastname@example.org as a resource for parents, teachers, & students to relay questions/concerns,” Porter tweeted. “Youngkin was elected to serve all Virginians & has utilized a customary constituent service to hear from Virginians.”