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Youngkin Follows NH’s Lead with Anti-CRT ‘Tip Line’

Virginia’s newly elected Republican Gov. Glenn Younkin is borrowing a page from New Hampshire by setting up an email tipline for parents to report on teachers who use Critical Race Theory (CRT) curriculum in the classroom.

Youngkin, who won an upset victory for governor in a state Joe Biden carried by 10 points a year earlier, campaigned hard against the use of CRT in Virginia classrooms. On his first day in office, he signed an executive order banning “divisive concepts” like CRT from the state’s classrooms.

He told media this week the email tipline allows parents to report teachers “behaving objectionably.”

“We’re asking for folks to send us reports and observations that they have that will help us be aware of things like ‘privilege bingo,’ be aware of their child being denied their rights that parents have in Virginia. And we’re going to make sure we catalog it all,” Youngkin said. “This gives us a great insight into what’s happening at a school level, and that gives us further ability to make sure we’re rooting it out.”

“Privilege bingo” is an actual classroom exercise used as part of a CRT-based curriculum to highlight racial differences among students and label certain children “privileged” based on race, regardless of their actual circumstances. The Fairfax County, Va. public school system apologized for using it after parents found out about the classroom exercise and complained.

Youngkin’s moves mimic those taken by the New Hampshire Department of Education. Last fall, Commissioner Frank Edelblut set up a website that allows Granite State parents to report violations of the state’s new anti-discrimination law. New Hampshire did not directly ban the teaching of any specific concept but instead banned teaching that any group was superior or inferior based on race, creed, or sexual orientation.

“This website in support of the commission provides parents with an online site to address concerns that their child may have been discriminated against,” the DOE said in a statement when the site was launched. “Parents, guardians, and teachers are able to submit a public education intake questionnaire that will be reviewed by a [state Human Rights] commission intake coordinator to determine if there are grounds to file a formal complaint.”

Edleblut did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday, but his staff indicated that any complaints filed through the website would go directly to the state’s Human Rights Commission (HRC). Edleblut has said that by going to the HRC, the due process rights of any teacher accused of violating the law will be protected.

Ahni Malachi, the commission’s executive director, refused to say Tuesday how many cases, if any, had been referred to her office since the website was published. She did say that no cases have been fully adjudicated at this time. But it is not clear if there are any cases pending before the commission, are still in the investigative stage, or are heading for mediation. The commission’s website lacks transparent information on the number of cases handled, and there is no public data available on the website beyond 2018 numbers.

NHJournal has reported on multiple Granite State school systems, including Manchester, Laconia, and Litchfield, that were found to be using CRT-inspired content.

New Hampshire’s anti-discrimination reporting system caught flak from teachers unions after it was learned a group of activists, Moms For Liberty, was offering a $500 bounty for the first verified report made to the commission. While Edleblut distanced himself from the bounty scheme, the heads of New Hampshire’s two teachers unions accused him of engaging in dangerous vigilantism.

“Totally innocent teachers could lose their teaching license over claims that are not backed up by any evidence. Edelblut has declared a war on teachers, a war that the overwhelming majority of New Hampshire parents will find repulsive,” AFT-New Hampshire President Deb Howes said.

Meg Tuttle, president of the NEA-NH, said Edleblut was keeping New Hampshire children from learning about injustice.

“Politicians like Commissioner Edelblut are using the dog whistle strategy of distraction, division, and intimidation in their efforts to dictate what teachers say and block kids from learning our shared stories of confronting injustice to build a more perfect union,” Tuttle said.

To date, no bounty has been paid, according to Moms For Liberty. Both the AFT and NEA have since filed independent federal lawsuits against the state over the anti-discrimination law.

The lawsuits incorrectly describe the law as banning the teaching of “divisive concepts.”

Could a McAuliffe Loss in VA Hurt Dems in New Hampshire?

Richmond, Va. may be 600 miles south of Concord, but campaign pros say a defeat for former governor Terry McAuliffe could send a political shockwave felt all the way in the Granite State.

As recently as October 1, the Virginia Democrat was maintaining his five-point lead in polling averages over GOP businessman Glenn Youngkin in the race for governor. Most pundits were predicting McAuliffe victory in a state where no Republican has won statewide in 12 years. Given that President Joe Biden carried Virginia by 10 points just a year ago, Democrats were feeling confident.

Today, the Real Clear Politics poll average has Youngkin in the lead — though by just half a percent. And if the decade-long trend of Republicans outperforming pre-election polls continues, McAuliffe’s chances of winning a second term appear to be slipping away.

McAuliffe is certainly campaigning like he’s behind. Over the weekend, Democratic operatives at the Lincoln Project attempted a low-rent campaign dirty trick, sending operatives in costumes reminiscent of white supremacists (tiki torches included) who marched in Charlottesville in 2017. They took a photo in front of the Youngkin bus, claimed to be Younkin supporters, and shared it on social media.

Only after two of the “supporters” were revealed to be Democrats did the Lincoln Project admit the “white supremacists” were fake and their organization was behind the stunt.

The McAuliffe campaign, which widely broadcast the faked image, claims it had no role.

In a state where self-identified Democrats outnumber Republicans 46-39 percent (there is no party ID voter registration), a former Democratic governor with 100 percent name ID losing to a GOP first-time candidate would be a significant blow. The question NHJournal asked Granite State political pros: Would it be felt up here?

GOP strategist Patrick Griffin believes it would because the election in Virginia has been nationalized. “It is a referendum on Joe Biden and the policies of the left,” Griffin said. And, he adds, Youngkin is showing Granite State Republicans how to win in a purple state.

“It’s a roadmap for the GOP as long as Trump stays locked in the basement between now and Election Day,” Griffin told NHJournal. “New Hampshire Republicans should pay damn close attention to a masterclass in how to win in this mess Biden and the progressives have made.”

Jim Merrill, a strategist on both the Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio presidential campaigns, also sees a potential issue emerging from Virginia if Republicans win: Education.

“If Youngkin wins, it’s a clear message that education will be the accelerant for GOP victories in 2022. And even if McAuliffe manages to hold on, it’s still a preview of New Hampshire races,” Merrill said.

In an off-year election, voter enthusiasm can be key. Polls show Republican voters say they’re most excited about voting on Tuesday, and Democrats appear to know it. From the AP:

“Chris Hurst, a McAuliffe supporter, acknowledged the enthusiasm gap at a get-out-the-vote rally: ‘You don’t have to be enthusiastic to go to the doctor or the dentist to still do it every single year. It’s time for us to go out and do our jobs.'”

If that’s the Democratic mentality, it could mean trouble for McAuliffe.

Voter enthusiasm is one of the things veteran N.H. Democratic strategist Jim Demers says he’s keeping an eye on. “I will be watching voter participation to see if either party is more engaged and energized or if there is a depressed turnout. My sense is this being a non-presidential election, turnout may be low, so it will be interesting if either party benefits from that.”

Republican Dave Carney has two metrics for Tuesday: “I’m watching the Democrats’ margin below Biden’s ten-percent victory last year, and how the suburbs vote.”

There are some obvious commonalities between the Old Dominion and the Granite State. Both have affluent populations — New Hampshire ranks third in median household income ($88,235) while Virginia is number eight ($81,947.) Both are in the top 10 for percent of the population with college degrees. And like Granite Staters who are part of the Boston-based economy, many northern Virginia residents trek to D.C. to pay the bills. Virginia has more churchgoers per capita, New Hampshire more gun owners.

And Biden won both states, though his 7.4 percent spread in New Hampshire was slightly smaller than in Virginia.

McAuliffe and the Democrats have tried to make the governor’s race a referendum on former President Donald Trump. During his recent lap on the campaign trail for the Democrats, Biden dropped Trump’s name 24 times in a single speech, and McAuliffe’s campaign mail has featured the former president nearly as much as his GOP opponent.

Tom Rath, a Republican who endorsed Joe Biden last year, says Virginia may show the limits of anti-Trump campaign rhetoric.

“This race should be a sure thing for Democrats. McAuliffe is well known, basically well-liked, and he has plenty of campaign cash,” Rath said. “McAuliffe has looked increasingly strident and tired recently and somewhat flailing. That suggests to me their internal polling does not look great.”

“A Republican win probably says more about Biden’s weakness than it does about Trump’s strength,” Rath added.