Matt Taibbi: School closures, not critical race theory, was primary issue for parents in Virginia election

12/30/21

Journalist and podcaster Matt Taibbi said Thursday that Democrats are on the road to losing more support on an issue where they have had an advantage for decades — education. 

During an interview on HillTV’s “Rising,” Taibbi argued that Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe‘s (D) remarks about parents not having the authority to dictate what is taught in schools was not a blunder but rather emblematic of how Democrats perceive the issue.

“They started off by saying, ‘Well we won’t think parents should decide what gets taught in schools’ and then that’s described as a mistake, but actually when you drill down into what they really believe, they actually think that,” Taibbi said. “It wasn’t a slip of the tongue.”

He said that although Democrats have enjoyed a nearly 30-point polling advantage on the issue of education in recent decades, it is now in the single digits.

He noted that among people he talked to in Loudoun County, Va., a recent hotbed of the education debate, this is largely due to school closures, as opposed to the national controversy over critical race theory.

“If you read all the coverage, the national coverage of Loudoun, you probably didn’t hear about school closures being a big deal. But they were. They were the primary issue for most people there,” Taibbi said.

“What compounded the issue is that these parents were getting to see up close what their kids were and were not learning, and they were realizing ‘well, there’s a reason why my fourth or fifth grader doesn’t know how to do long division because they’re not teaching them anything,'” he continued. “It’s not that they’re teaching them sort of woke stuff in school and that’s what they’re getting upset about. The more common complaint was ‘my kids are not learning anything.'” 

Taibbi noted that many of the people he talked to in Loudoun County leaned more Democratic and were not at all “hard core Republicans,” but changed their opinions because of an issue that was directly impacting their children. 

“What happened to them politically during the school closures, they went through a transformation. The attitude of the school board was so contrary to what they were thinking and feeling, and they felt like they were just being completely ignored, and that is enraging for parents.”

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