More: Northern Virginians will decide next week’s election…

Education is one of the  x-factors in next week’s gubernatorial election.
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In a prior post, we highlighted the importance of Northern Virginia counties in national and statewide elections … especially this year, with McAuliffe vying with Youngkin for governor.

As James Freeman puts it in the WSJ:

Given the growth of the Beltway swamp, Virginia’s largely government-dependent voters now regularly vote for the leftwardmost major-party candidate in statewide elections. 

For example, in 2020, Biden walked away with a 10 point win over Trump … easily carrying the predominantly Black precincts in southeast Virginia (Richmond , Virginia Beach) … and crushing Trump in Northern Virginia (Fairfax County by 40 points, Loudoun County by 20 points).

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We mused: If all non-NOVA counties vote along recent historical patterns and Youngkin slices, say, 10 points off the GOP 20 point disadvantage in Loudoun … and 10 points off its 40 point disadvantage in Fairfax Counties … then Younkin very likely pulls off the upset.

Sounds like a heavy lift, but it may be possible because of  2 electoral X-factors: education and vaccine mandates.

Today, let’s dig into the education issue…

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The Education X-factor

Unless you’re permanently glued to CNN-MSNBC you know that education has emerged as a hot-button issue in the VA gubernatorial election.

Initially, the central issue was the lack of in-person schooling during the pandemic … with many parents pushing to get their kids back in school.

Then, peering through the remote learning  window, parents got exposed to and engaged in their kids’ education. For many, it wasn’t a pretty picture.

Now, many parents are “concerned” about curriculum changes (e.g. CRT and “equity math”) … and schools’ “social experience” policies (e.g. masks and gender-mixed teams and bathrooms).

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Ground Zero

Loudoun County is ground zero for educational unrest.

In a flashpoint case, a self-proclaimed “gender-fluid”, biological male has been convicted of sexual assault for entering a girls’ bathroom wearing a skirt and sexually assaulting a 9th grade girl.  Source

The school board claimed no knowledge of the situation when confronted by the girl’s father … who was subsequently arrested.

But, an email trail revealed that the school board had been apprised of the situation but had taken no action, save for transferring the perpetrator to another school … where he/she is alleged to have committed a  similar crime.

Parents were outraged.

The parents’ level of “concern” got them labeled “domestic terrorists” by the National School Boards Association …  and put on an FBI watch list by AG Merrick Garland.

The NSBA subsequently admitted that: “There was no justification for some of the language included in the letter” … and they apologized “for the strain and stress this situation has caused”.

AG Garland has yet to retract his order and hasn’t told the FBI to stand down.  Source

Former President Obama — stumping for McAuliffe — called parents’ concerns “fake cultural issues”

That insensitive wisecrack energized Loudoun County parents  … and,  their children

Evidence: Walk-outs at several Loudoun County high schools.

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Specifically, the Washington Post reports that “More than 2500 students from at least 20 schools, including Riverside High School, Briar Woods High School and Lightridge High School, took part in walk-outs

For them, the issue is very real …a nd resonating.

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Calibrating the Concern

While Loudoun County (the fastest growing county in America) has gotten most of the headlines, parents’ concerns are also evident is Fairfax County (large population, immediately proximate to DC).

The evidence:

“Enrollment in Fairfax County’s public schools continues to dip, having now fallen more than 10,000 students since the onset of the pandemic.” Source

That’s a loss of about 5% of Fairfax County Public Schools’ student body, as parents move their kids to private schools (pricey and parochial) … or opt to home school them.

Those 10,000 or so parents have already voted once with their feet.

How many share their feelings?

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Bottom line: The education issue isn’t as former President Obama calls it: “a fake cultural issue”.

It’s real,  it’s emotional and it’s relatively broad-based in Virginia … even in Dem-friendly Northern Virginia.

We’ll see how that plays out next week.

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Tomorrow, the other NOVA x-factor vaccine mandates

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