Opinion: Schools Lost on Nov. 2

The winner of the Virginia governor’s race, Glenn Youngkin, would have you believe that teachers can’t be trusted to teach historic truth or inclusive literature without victimizing white children. He would have you believe that school librarians push pornography on children and that parents have no right to challenge books. He wants you to think that school principals can’t support trans students and keep girls safe in the bathroom at the same time. 

None of that is true. The vast majority of parents know that none of that is true. Polls show that parents overwhelmingly trust their children’s teachers and school leaders to provide safe, effective learning environments for their children. And every day, in classrooms across every part of Virginia, educators earn that trust.

Unfortunately, most media and Democratic politicians failed to effectively challenge these destructive, divisive lies. Bullying school boards, teachers, librarians, and our most vulnerable students worked for Youngkin and the GOP. They are already doubling down for the 2022 midterm elections.  

It’s time for public school teachers, parents, and students in Virginia to get organized and get loud.  We have to assume that politicians, parties, and many in the media will do no better going forward. We must make our own voices too loud to ignore.

Here’s the truth about schools in Virginia:

  • Teachers empower students when we teach the whole, unvarnished truth about U.S. and Virginia history, from the first slave ships at Point Comfort, through the Capital of the Confederacy and Massive Resistance, to the systemic inequities that remain today. 

  • Teachers empower students to think critically and empathically by exposing them to traditionally under-represented voices and stories in literature. 

  • Teachers create safe, joyful learning environments for all students when they respect preferred names and pronouns. 

  • Parents and students in Virginia overwhelmingly expect teachers to do these things because it’s just good teaching.

Schools lost in Virginia on Nov. 2. 

It’s time for educators, parents, and students to speak up and protect our most important public institution.

Pat Hynes is a former member of the Fairfax County School Board, a teacher in Arlington and a Reston resident.