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Virginia school board members targeted with KKK materials as critical race theory debate boils

Fairfax County school board members claimed they found Ku Klux Klan propaganda on their doorsteps.

Updated: June 18, 2021 - 11:15pm

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The debate over critical race theory is heating up across Virginia as Fairfax County school board members claimed they found Ku Klux Klan propaganda on their doorsteps.

Critical race theory is an academic movement focused on race and politics, particularly based on allegations of institutional racism and white privilege. Scholars tend to allege that many of society’s problems are rooted in the white majority using laws and other power to keep down the nonwhite population, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Many of the opponents of critical race theory claim its conclusions often rely on storytelling, rather than a compilation of evidence. Opponents tend to claim the theory often begs the question by making assumptions on the roots of societal problems through the lens of personal stories from ethnic minority groups and then pointing to disproportionate outcomes as evidence that institutional racism and white privilege are the culprits.

Parent groups have risen up in Fairfax County and other parts of the commonwealth to oppose lesson plans they believe are rooted in critical race theory. The county’s public school system recently contracted with the New York City Leadership Academy to create an anti-bias community engagement policy and sent a survey to parents, which included questions about whether they should teach students how to challenge power and privilege in society.

A parent group that was originally created to encourage schools to open during the COVID, called Open FCPS (Fairfax County Public Schools), has advocated a recall of the school board members. Their grievance with the school board is they believe in-person classes were closed for too long and the county has started to spend money to bring critical race theory into their lessons.

Rhetoric heated up this week after school board members claimed they found propaganda flyers from the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan on their doorsteps. The flyer referred to school board members as “Jew-inspired, communist, queer-loving sex fiends” who are violating the words of the Bible. The allegation of these flyers is being investigated by the Fairfax County Police.

In a rally to support the school board members, Del. Marcus Simon, D-Falls Church, pointed to the flyers as a reason to support the school board and oppose Open FCPS.

“We know who is an ally of this movement,” Simon said. “I’m not saying everybody who supports ‘Open FCPS’ is a member of the KKK, but when the KKK is on your side, you need to rethink your priorities.”

Simon’s comments drew ire from his Republican colleagues in the House of Delegates. In a statement, House Republican Spokesperson Garren Shipley said the propaganda flyers were disgusting, but accused Simon of slandering the parents in Open FCPS by comparing their criticisms of critical race theory to the flyers allegedly distributed by the KKK.

"Slandering parents who are fighting for their children's education as racists is a bold strategy,” Shipley said. “Let's see if it pays off for them."

Loudoun County Public Schools, which borders Fairfax County, spent $3,750 on Equity Leadership Coaching focused on critical race theory development last year, according to an invoice recently unearthed by Fight for Schools PAC. The PAC is based in Loudoun County and opposes critical race theory taught in the classroom.

Debate over critical race theory has elevated to the gubernatorial debate, as well, between former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, and businessman Glenn Youngkin, a Republican.

Youngkin has staunchly opposed critical race theory, vowing to remove it from Virginia classrooms and replace it with a high-quality civics curriculum. McAuliffe, on the other hand, referred to critical race theory as a right-wing conspiracy theory.