Glenn Youngkin Targets Education in Virginia Gov. Race, Says He'd Ban Critical Race Theory

Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate for Virginia governor, has said he would ban critical race theory in schools on his first day in office.

Youngkin made the pledge during a rally in Henrico on Saturday. His comments came during a section of his speech that focused on improvements to education he would implement if he were elected.

"We all know education starts with curriculum," Youngkin told supporters at the rally. "So let me be clear: we will teach accelerated math, we will award advanced diplomas and we will teach all history, the good and the bad."

He went on: "America has fabulous chapters, I mean, it's the greatest country in the world. But we also have some important chapters in our history, we must teach them but what we won't do, what we won't do is teach our children to view everything through a lens of race. We won't do this. I mean, we know in our hearts it's wrong."

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin
Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin speaks during a rally on October 23, 2021 in Henrico, Virginia. Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Youngkin then invoked the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr.—something other Republicans have also used to decry critical race theory.

"Dr. Martin Luther King implored us to judge one another based on the content of our character and not the color of our skin," Youngkin said. "And therefore, on day one, I will ban critical race theory in our schools."

His comments come as school board meetings in Virginia and other parts of the country have become heated amid disputes over issues including how to teach the history of racism and slavery in America.

Critical race theory, or CRT, is an academic framework that examines history through the lens of racism that conservatives have claimed is an effort to rewrite U.S. history and make white people feel that they are inherently racist.

At a roundtable earlier this month, Youngkin's opponent, former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe was asked to define critical race theory. He refused, saying it was not taught in Virginia schools and that the issue was a "dog whistle" being used to divide people.

In recent weeks, Youngkin has targeted McAuliffe in television ads over his stance that parents should not tell schools what to teach.

A recent Fox News poll found that 50 percent of likely voters say parents should be telling schools what to teach, while 40 percent said they shouldn't. The survey found registered voters were split, with 45 percent saying parents should be telling schools what to teach, and 43 percent saying they shouldn't.

Newsweek has contacted Youngkin and McAuliffe's campaigns for additional comment.