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Reopening Schools and Curriculum Become Hot Topics Among Republican Candidates


On the campaign trail, education is a hot topic. And, the debate doesn’t just revolve around reopening schools. It's also about what's being taught.

During a forum with Republican candidates for governor this week at Liberty University, the candidates were asked how they would reopen schools if elected. Four out of five of them took the opportunity to denounce something called "critical race theory," a way of re-evaluating the role race plays in law and politics that's quickly emerging as a favorite subject for Republicans.  


Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Puneet Ahluwalia even has two YouTube videos specifically about critical race theory. 


"All it does is teach children to divide, to hate, to see themselves as victims or oppressors. It leads to lower achievement and more quotas," Ahluwalia says in the video. 


Former Republican Delegate David Ramadan, now at George Mason University's Schar School, says the new Republican talking points on critical race theory remind him of opposition to climate change a decade ago.  


"Now we need a new issue, so OK this fits within this charged atmosphere. So let's play this, and once one of them plays it everybody plays it and it becomes a snowball effect," Ramadan explains. "It will backfire." 


Ramadan says talking about critical race theory might score points in the Republican convention on May the 8th. But, he says, it'll backfire as an issue in the general election, when the Republican candidates that emerge from the convention take on Democrats who win in the June primary. 


This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.