Who Decides What Kids Should Be Taught?
Virginia is a newly blue state, with a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators, that Joe Biden won by 10 points.
Hence, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe was an early and solid favorite to regain the office he vacated in 2017. But if McAuliffe loses Tuesday, the defeat will be measured on the Richter scale.
For if he does lose, it will be because of an elitist belief McAuliffe blurted out during a debate with Republican rival Glenn Youngkin:
"I'm not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions. ... I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach."
Yet, during his own term as governor, one Virginia school district pulled copies of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Huckleberry Finn" out of the schools because of the books' use of racial slurs.
What McAuliffe was saying was that the knowledge, truths and beliefs imparted to children in public schools are to be determined by school officials and teachers alone. Parents have no role and should butt out.
His dismissal of any parental role in education did more than cause a backlash against McAuliffe. It put on the national agenda an issue that will be engaged and fought long after this Virginia governor's race is over.
Former President Barack Obama was not amused at Virginia's reaction to McAuliffe's rejection of any parental role in education.
"We don't have time to be wasting on these phony, trumped-up culture wars," said Obama during a campaign stop for McAuliffe.
But to the voters of Virginia, who have been moving to Youngkin since McAuliffe made his now-famous remark, these are real issues.