The role of parents in deciding school curriculum is a flash point in the Virginia gubernatorial race. Days before the election, bogus signs have appeared on streets and in social media posts reading, “Keep Parents Out of Classrooms,” and imply they were placed by Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe. But McAuliffe and the local Democrats said, “these signs are not ours.”
A focal point in the close race for governor of Virginia between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin is who controls what is taught in schools.
McAuliffe, who was the state’s governor from 2014-2018, has said that parents shouldn’t be “telling schools what they should teach” in regards to the reading material, while Youngkin has said that parents should “be in charge.”
On Oct. 25, Youngkin released an ad criticizing McAuliffe for his stance on parental oversight of school curriculum. The ad featured a mother who pushed to have the 1987 novel “Beloved” by Toni Morrison banned from her son’s high school English curriculum, claiming the book gave him nightmares. The woman in the ad, Laura Murphy, is a Republican activist, and her son briefly interned for former President Donald Trump.
McAuliffe’s responded to the ad by accusing Youngkin of “book-banning,” while his campaign handed out copies of Morrison’s book with a bookmark that read, “Glenn Youngkin will ban books in Virginia schools.”
“Keep Parents Out Of Classrooms. Vote McAuliffe. Keep Virginia Blue,” reads the sign, posted by a Facebook account called President Trump Fans.
Another Facebook page, “Californians for TRUMP – Original,” posted a photo of the sign with the caption, “Amazing- this is what democrats want- Free Brainwash of our Kids. ”
The Gateway Pundit — a right-leaning website that repeatedly spreads misinformation — posted an article with the headline, “Pure Marxism: McAuliffe Supporters Are Posting Signs Promising to ‘Keep Parents Out of Classrooms’ as Campaign Winds Down.”
But Manuel Bonder, deputy communications director for the Democratic Party of Virginia, told FactCheck.org in an Oct. 28 email that the signs were not created or erected by the Democratic Party of Virginia or McAuliffe’s campaign.
“These signs are not ours,” Bonder said. “They were not sanctioned or distributed by ‘Terry for Virginia’ or the Democratic Party of Virginia.”
A spokesperson for the McAuliffe campaign, Christina Freundlich, told PolitiFact, “This is not a sign distributed by us. It’s not our sign.”
It’s not clear where the signs originated or who put them up. There are no organizations identified on the signs.
During the second and final gubernatorial debate on Sept. 28, McAuliffe said he wasn’t “going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision.”
“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” he said.
Youngkin tweeted a video showing a portion of the debate with McAuliffe, and wrote, “I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.”
Polling shows the race is a toss-up just days before the election. Experts say voter turnout will decide the race and the outcome could signal which party will win control of Congress in the midterm elections next year.
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