As VA State Senators Scott Surovell and Ghazala Hashmi explain, this is “extremely concerning”:
“On a private call with Christian millionaires, home-schooling pioneer Michael Farris pushed for a strategy aimed at siphoning billions of tax dollars from public schools…
…The executive order targeting school mask mandates that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) signed on his first day in office cited a 2013 state law guaranteeing “fundamental” parental rights that Farris helped write.
… Farris said he was among those who urged Youngkin to promise ‘to get rid of all the politics in the public schools.’
‘Say that a thousand times,’ Farris recalled advising Youngkin. ‘You’ll be governor of Virginia.’
Youngkin acknowledged Farris’s counsel during his campaign and said he has continued to offer valuable input since he won office.
‘Mike has been just an incredible contributor to protecting parents’ rights and advancing this whole cause,’ Youngkin said in an interview.”
So as Sen. Surovell explains, back in 1993, Farris “lost to Don Beyer for LG by 9% in a GOP sweep b/c of his hyper extreme views,” yet “now he’s been repackaged as ‘Parents rights’ & embraced by Youngkin & others in secret meetings to ‘take down our education system’.” And as Sen. Hashmi adds, the goal of Farris and other “right wing extremists” is to “attack public schools and education itself…to destroy public ed (a system that serves all children), siphon billions of dollars into private, corporate hands, and leave marginalized communities more vulnerable.” Scary stuff.
But wait, you might be thinking, just because Farris is a far-right, theocratic extremist who wants to destroy the public education system in this country, and just because Youngkin listens to this nutjob, values his counsel and calls him an “incredible contributor to…advancing this whole cause,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Youngkin administration shares Farris’ goals? Except that if you look at the people Youngkin’s put into his administration on education policy, it doesn’t exactly assuage those fears. For instance, Youngkin named as Virginia’s Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction – yes, far-right extremist Elizabeth Schultz, who shared a white-nationalist symbol and then, when challenged, actively defended that action; who regularly promoted material from the Twitter account of white-nationalist Resistance Media; who promoted election lies in 2016 (and 2020 and…); who advocates for people to watch racist, anti-LGBTQ Prager propaganda videos; etc. Or check out this guy, who Youngkin named to the Virginia Board of Education. The list could go on and on, but you get the picture.
So where does that leave us? Very simple: with the urgent need for every single Democrat in Virginia to vote in the 2023 legislative elections (as well as for local school boards), and for everyone else who finds Farris’ views about public education to be abhorrent also to vote Democratic this fall. Then in 2025, we need to elect Democrats as Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General, and start undoing the massive damage Youngkin et al already have done, and will continue to do in their remaining 2 1/2 years in office…