School boards nationwide work hard to thwart the wishes of the parents they serve.
Loose lips sink ships, and the moment that sunk Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign in the state of Virginia will probaby haunt him for years to come. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” McAuliffe explained during a debate one fateful September evening. And even though “everyone clapped,” apparently, in response to the comment, the damage was done. McAuliffe had just handed his opponent, Glenn Youngkin, what political reporter Emily Brooks called “a campaign ad on a silver platter.”
In response to viral incidents and flashpoint sound bites such as this one, it’s prudent to step back and evaluate whether the firestorm actually fits the crime. Often it doesn’t, but the reality is that, in this situation, far from being a simple slip of the tongue, McAuliffe’s statement understates an administrative attitude that too often drives the thinking of local elected officials and education bureaucrats.
Michael Hartney is an assistant professor at Boston College and the author of the recent issue brief “Revitalizing Local Democracy: The Case for On-Cycle Local Elections.” Nora Kenney is the deputy director of media relations at the Manhattan Institute.
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