Youngkin says education is top issue in Virginia governor race: 'Parents are absolutely angry'

Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday referred to education as the top issue in the state's election, saying parents are fired up about the public school system. 

"I think it is, too," Youngkin told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt after Hewitt called education "the No. 1 issue in this race." 

"By the way, parents, parents are absolutely angry about what’s happening in the public school systems," Youngkin continued. "And we’ve watched parents for the last 20 months see what’s happening in the classroom, because their kids have been at home, not in a classroom, on the computer, and that parents have been fighting for their kids’ rights."

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"They’ve been fighting for them to get the schools open," he continued. "They’ve been fighting for them to teach their children how to think and stop teaching them what to think. They’ve been fighting to make sure the materials that are in their curriculum, in the library are appropriate." 

Youngkin and his GOP allies in Virginia have leaned into education as a major issue throughout the campaign, citing coronavirus restrictions in the classroom and the debate over critical race theory and transgender rights in schools. The Republican nominee recently zeroed in on comments from his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, in which he said he does not believe parents should be telling teachers what to teach. 

"[McAuliffe] wants to put government between parents and their children," Youngkin told Hewitt. "He thinks that bureaucrats and politicians know better, and parents are basically rejecting it all over Virginia."

"We’re going to send a real message on November the 2nd when Terry McAuliffe is sent home. I mean, I’ve always said the best jobs program in Virginia is to make sure that Terry McAuliffe doesn’t have one," he added. 

McAuliffe, on the other hand, has focused on messaging surrounding abortion rights and vaccine mandates in the commonwealth. 

The former governor responded to Youngkin's education-related attacks last week, calling them "a dog whistle." 

“Why are we doing this to our students? All we want to do is give them a quality education,” McAuliffe told CNN. “They’re desperate. This all goes back to critical race theory, which is not taught here in Virginia."

"I'm sick of it," he added.