The comment in question came on Sept. 28 during the final debate before the upcoming Nov. 2 election. When Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin pointed out that McAuliffe in 2016 vetoed a bill which would have given parents more control over what kind of books their kids are exposed to at school, the former governor responded that parents shouldn’t have “the right to veto books.”
“I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions,” he said. “I stopped the bill and I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
The statement has since faced much criticism, including from Youngkin, who launched a “Parents Matter” campaign to mobilize families and parents to “reject Terry McAuliffe’s attempts to silence parents and stand between them and their children’s education.”
In a new campaign ad released this week, McAuliffe appeared to distance himself from the stance that parents shouldn’t have a say in what schools teach, saying that he “always valued the concerns of parents.” He also accused Youngkin of taking his words out of context.
“As parents, Dorothy and I have always been involved in our kids’ education,” McAuliffe said. “We know good schools depend on involved parents.”
“That’s why I want you to hear this from me: Glenn Youngkin’s taking my words out of context,” he continued. “I’ve always valued the concerns of parents. It’s why as governor, we scaled back standardized testing, expanded pre-K, and invested a billion dollars in public schools.”
In response, the Youngkin campaign alleged in a statement that McAuliffe actually meant what he said during the debate, and that it is too late for him to backtrack on that controversial statement.
“Two weeks before Election Day, Terry McAuliffe is struggling to save his campaign,” said Youngkin spokesman Macaulay Porter, noting that McAuliffe has repeatedly doubled down on his initial remarks over the past three weeks. “But it’s too late—Terry showed us his heart. This is what he believes.”
Home to some of the nation’s highest-achieving schools, Virginia has recently made national headlines because of controversies around education, including the incorporation of critical race theory (CRT) in classrooms, and the new model policies encouraging school districts to allow transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.
In an Oct. 8 interview with local TV station WAVY News, McAuliffe said that CRT has “never been taught in Virginia” and is used as a “dog whistle” by Republicans like Youngkin and Donald Trump.” Meanwhile, Youngkin said CRT is an actual issue.
“Virginia schools are in a state of chaos because of the left-liberal, progressive agenda that is being ramrodded across the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Youngkin told The Epoch Times earlier this summer. “We kept our schools closed so unnecessarily and damaged kids across Virginia. We have infused a political agenda of critical race theory into the curriculum, and we are seeing parents stand up across Virginia, and acutely in Loudon County.”