Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin on Monday launched “Parents Matter,” an initiative created as a response to debate comments from his opponent, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), in which McAuliffe said parents should not have a say in school curriculums.
Youngkin described Parents Matter as a “mobilization effort” for Virginia residents to organize around and promote his education plan while also making voters aware of McAuliffe’s position on education, and, specifically, the Virginia Democrat’s “anti-parents” debate comments, which Youngkin said had “immediately disqualified” McAuliffe from serving as governor.
“Terry McAuliffe showed us his heart when he said that ‘parents don’t matter.’ He immediately disqualified himself from office,” Youngkin said in a statement. “I believe that parents matter, and I’ll never put government bureaucrats or politicians between parents and their kids. As governor, I’ll empower parents and restore excellence and commonsense in education.”
During last Tuesday’s debate, while McAuliffe was defending vetoing a bill from when he was governor, he made a statement that elicited a tidal wave of backlash in the form of online commentary, criticism from parents, multiple op-eds from media outlets, and a new Youngkin campaign ad.
McAuliffe said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach”:
Glenn Youngkin: "I believe parents should be in charge of their kids' education."
— Glenn Youngkin (@GlennYoungkin) September 29, 2021
Youngkin said during an appearance this past weekend on Breitbart News Saturday that while he was attending a Friday night rivalry football game in Loudoun County, numerous parents approached him from the stands to tell Youngkin they support his candidacy specifically because of their education concerns.
“I had parents streaming down out of the stands, coming up to me saying, ‘I’m for you. Protect our children. I’m for you. Protect our schools. I’m for you. Protect us from Terry McAuliffe.’ I mean it was absolutely overwhelming, and this is a moment for parents to know that they’re going to have a candidate working for them as governor who is going to work for them, not for the education unions,” Youngkin said.
The Virginia Republican emphasized he would, as governor, make an “aggressive” charter school push and boost funding for teacher salaries and facilities investments. He also restated his vow that he would make certain schools were open for in-person learning five days per week and that he would never mandate a coronavirus vaccine in schools as his opponent would.
“Teachers were coming up to me last night at this football game and saying, ‘Please help us because, one, we’re not comfortable with the vaccine’ — I actually encouraged them in the discussion to please get the vaccine,” Youngkin explained of his encounters at the game. “They said, ‘Mr. Youngkin, we understand. We’re not comfortable getting it right now, but Terry McAuliffe wants to fire us, and we want to keep our jobs and continue to teach kids.’ And so we’re going to stand up for parents. We’re going to stand up for students. We’re going to stand up for teachers.”
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