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Perspective: Progressives want to control children’s education. Ask Virginia how that’s working out

Many on the left have pushed academic indoctrination. The Virginia governor’s race shows parents are fed up

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe now trails Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin in the polls.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe listens as President Joe Biden speaks Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. He now trails Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin in the polls.
Alex Brandon, Associated Press

Last night Fox News dropped a bombshell on the Virginia governor’s race. In just the span of two weeks, the race has shifted into Republican Glenn Youngkin’s favor by eight points. Two weeks ago he was polling five points behind Democrat Terry Mcauliffe.

What is driving the upheaval in Virginia? From my vantage point, the difference is one word: education. The Virginia governor‘s race has become a referendum on how Democrats have handled education throughout the pandemic, but in particular, how Loudoun County has handled a scandal the Daily Wire broke — an alleged sexual assault in one of their school’s girls bathroom, perpetrated by a biologically male student who identifies as a female. When the school district found out, instead of handling the situation with the care and sensitivity that it deserved, they shuttled the offender into another district and demonized the father of the victim when he appeared distraught at school board meetings.

Over the course of the 18 months of the pandemic, parents around the country have realized the state of American education: Instead of focusing on academics, parents have come to see the focus has been about academic indoctrination. Mcauliffe said as much last week, sparking ire around the country, including Virginia.

This week in Bari Weiss’s must-read Substack, her sister Suzy Weiss takes a deep dive into a growing phenomenon: Women so convinced they want to be child-free that they undergo sterilization. Throughout the chilling and deeply saddening reported piece, politics springs up again and again. She writes, “Growing up near Hershey, Penn., (Rachel) Diamond always assumed she’d have a family of her own. Then came college at Arcadia University; her political awakening, away from her conservative roots, and towards progressivism.”

Weiss goes on to explain,

This psychological reversal didn’t just happen. It took place inside the hurricane of spiritual, cultural and environmental forces swirling around us. But the message from this young cohort is clear: Life is already exhausting enough. And the world is broken and burning. Who would want to bring new, innocent life into a criminally unequal society situated on a planet with catastrophically rising sea levels? ...

According to a new poll, 39% of Gen Zers are hesitant to procreate for fear of the climate apocalypse. A nationally representative study of adults in Michigan found that over a quarter of adults there are child-free by choice. And new research by the Institute of Family Studies found that the desire to have a child among adults decreased by 17% since the onset of the pandemic.

Brad Wilcox of the Institute of Family Studies found some data to back up the theory that there’s a link between progressive politics and a decreased desire to procreate,

Despite producing fewer of America‘s children, however, the political left refuses to loosen up its stranglehold on education. The result of their decades long influence on education is evidenced in some of the worst education results in the world, despite America’s wealth and relative position. Maybe Americans would be justified in continuing to allow liberals to guide American education, even when they are having fewer of America’s children, if the education system was effective. But it’s not.

President Barack Obama last week tried to swoop into Virginia’s gubernatorial race in order to save it for the Democrat running. Bloomberg reports, “Former President Barack Obama waded into Virginia’s gubernatorial race, criticizing Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin for supporting ‘phony, trumped-up culture wars’ in his bid to flip the state.” What are those phony, trumped-up culture wars? The fight over what is taught in public schools, an issue which Republicans are winning handily and which is likely behind the latest Youngkin numbers.

Shockingly from a strategy perspective, progressives are doubling down on the notion that conservative parents—those who are actually raising more of the children—should have no say in what their own children are taught:

But this issue drives home why these issues around schools are so explosive and appear to be moving the dial on this election. Tim Carney captures here what conservatives believe:

Meanwhile, progressives hold that children belong to the state — to all of society. And when that’s the case, when all children belong to everyone, it doesn’t matter if one ideological camp isn’t having kids, just as long as they are able to ideologically indoctrinate other people’s kids.

It feels a great deal like the Handmaid’s Tale, the famous Margaret Atwood novel turned Hulu show that liberals like to reenact whenever an issue around reproductive rights is called into question. They accuse conservatives of trying to turn them into unwilling breeders, but while there’s no one actually forced into breeding today, conservatives have in fact turned into the defacto breeders for our society’s next generation, while childless progressives have tried to hijack our kids’ hearts and minds for their ideological agenda.

This attempted hijacking, which many parents have finally observed after spending more than a year watching their kids in class on Zoom, is not a phony culture war; it is why the Virginia race is suddenly so tight and so heated. This is why school board meetings across the country are becoming explosive as we emerge out of the pandemic. Progressives are trying to reassert control of the curriculum and scope of what happens in America’s schools, thereby influencing other people’s kids. After the past year and a half of COVID-19, American parents are no longer willing to allow them the opportunity.

Bethany Mandel is a contributing writer for the Deseret News and editor at Ricochet.com.