Virginia Democrat Elaine Luria wrote off concerns about teaching critical race theory in schools to a group of business leaders, calling all criticism of the controversial subject a "racist dog whistle."
The congresswoman last week told the Democratic Business Council of Northern Virginia that debates about critical race theory have "drifted away" from the classroom and grown "to symbolize everything to do with parent’s frustrations with schools." Still, Luria claims that attacks on critical race theory have always "clearly had overtones of being a racist dog whistle."
The comments come just months after voters in her swing district voted for Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, whose platform included eliminating critical race theory from the classroom. Luria’s messaging could leave her vulnerable in the 2022 midterm elections, when Republicans hope to leverage critical race theory to oust swing district Democrats. Critical race theory was the deciding issue in Virginia’s gubernatorial election, when Youngkin’s opposition to the radical curricula helped him defeat former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe. In October, McAuliffe accused parents who opposed critical race theory of using a "racist … dog whistle" to "create divisions."
Luria’s district, which President Joe Biden narrowly won in 2020, voted for Youngkin by an 8-point margin.
Democrats deny that critical race theory is taught in schools and claim parents who oppose it are racist. But more than 40 percent of teachers support including critical race theory in K-12 civics education.
Many Virginia schools have embraced "woke" curriculum. Loudoun County Public Schools last year adopted a "Culturally Responsive Framework" that pushed teachers to include the central tenets of critical race theory in their lessons. Henrico County Public Schools has segregated teachers into "affinity groups" to learn about the "impact of privilege on White educators."
Critical race theory is not the only issue where Luria tows her party’s line. The representative opposes school choice, which Democrats and their teachers’ union allies claim siphons resources from public schools.
But while Luria slammed voucher programs and charter schools on the campaign trail, she attempted to start a private Montessori high school. State corporation filings list Luria as the president of Tidewater Montessori High School, Inc., from at least 2015 to 2019, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Since 2018, Luria has received $37,000 in donations from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s two largest teachers' unions.