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Pence to deliver address on 'educational freedom' in Virginia

Former Vice President Mike Pence will deliver an address on "educational freedom" in Loudoun County, Va., on Thursday, according to his political advocacy group Advancing American Freedom. 

The speech is one of a number of policy addresses Pence will give across the country. The former vice president has already delivered two separate policy addresses on U.S.-China relations as well as law enforcement and public safety. 

Pence's address in Loudoun County will come less than a week ahead of Virginia's gubernatorial election, which has largely been defined by education and parental rights issues. GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin has used parental rights to go on the offensive against his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, zeroing in on comments McAuliffe made last month in which he said that he did not believe parents should tell teachers and schools what to teach. 

Loudoun County, in particular, has become the epicenter of conservative protests against school boards on issues such as critical race theory and transgender policies in the classroom. Concerns have also been voiced over sexually explicit content in learning material. Last week, Youngkin called for an investigation into the handling of two sexual assault allegations in two Loudoun County schools this year. 

Republicans and conservatives believe the issue is enough to fire up their voters in Virginia as well as peel off independent voters. 

Pence has spoken out about education-related issues in the past, including critical race theory. Earlier this year, Pence referred to critical race theory as "state-sanctioned racism."

"Critical race theory teaches children as young as kindergarten to be ashamed of their skin color. It represents a full-throated assault aimed at the heart of the American experiment," Pence said during an address at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. 

"It is nothing short of state-sponsored and state-sanctioned racism. Our party must ensure that critical race theory is expelled from our schools, our military, and our public institutions," he continued. 

Democrats have dismissed the conservative outcry over the issues as "a dog whistle" and have said the outrage has been drummed up by Republican operatives. 

Critical race theory was developed in the 1970s and 1980s by a number of American legal scholars who argued racism is rooted in the nation's founding and that systemic racism continues to have a negative impact on the opportunities and treatment of people of color at all levels of society today.

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