Tim Kaine Compares Parents Who 'Raise Hell' at School Board Meetings to Jan. 6 Rioters

'You see it at school board meetings when people come and raise hell,' senator says during campaign event

Sen. Tim Kaine (Twitter/@timkaine)
April 11, 2024

Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) drew parallels between parents who "raise hell" at school board meetings and Jan. 6 rioters, calling those parents "negative, complaining, name-calling pessimists" working to "tear us down and tear us apart."

"I realized when I was barricaded in the Capitol on January 6 when it was under attack that the tension right now in this country, and in this world, is between those who will stand up for others and those who want to tear us down or tear us apart," Kaine said during a sparsely attended Friday evening "block party" at a local park in Dumfries, Virginia. He added: "You see it at school board meetings when people come and raise hell at these school board members who are just trying to do the very best they can. There is a loud energy around tear-us-down and tear-us-apart." He went on to describe former president Donald Trump as "the greatest tear down artist in the history of American politics."

"I don't think Virginians are ‘tear down people,’" Kaine added later in his remarks. "I don’t think Virginians are negative, complaining, name-calling pessimists."

Kaine’s remarks come years after the issue of parental rights in education emerged as a galvanizing force in Virginia politics. In 2021, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) lost to his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, after saying parents shouldn’t be "telling schools what they should teach." At the time, high-profile school board meetings featured pushback from parents on cultural flashpoints such as transgender policies and critical race theory.

Kaine’s wife Anne Holton, who served as McAullife’s education secretary, downplayed McAuliffe’s comments at the time. "I think it’s a non-issue that the other side is using to try to rile people up," she told Politico ahead of the 2021 election.

Polling conducted by CreativeDirect, however, found that a majority of voters in that election said McAuliffe’s statement was "a big factor" when casting their ballots. Polling from Fox News showed 57 percent of Virginia parents think they should have a say in what their kids learn in school.

"As a mayor, lieutenant governor, governor, senator, and proud public-school parent, Tim Kaine knows the importance of every child receiving a world-class education, which is why he is laser-focused on investing in public education, respecting educators, and including parents in educational decisions that involve their children," Kaine for Virginia communications director Michael Beyer told the Washington Free Beacon.

School boards in Virginia have long faced scrutiny over their handling of transgender issues and critical race theory.

In June 2021, the Loudoun County School Board faced a raucous meeting after parents upset over its left-wing cultural stances reached a boiling point. The public meeting got so heated it was eventually cut short and one parent, Scott Smith, was eventually arrested after speaking out against the district’s handling of his daughter’s alleged sexual assault by a biologically male student in the girls bathroom.

A Virginia grand jury indicted two former top Loudoun education officials, former superintendent Scott Ziegler and former public information officer Wayde Byard, in 2022 after an investigation into the school district's handling of two sexual assault cases involving a student who reportedly identified as "gender-fluid."

Following years of political turmoil, Loudoun County officials elected an entirely new board this past November.