Glenn Youngkin will be Virginia’s next governor, part of a near-complete Republican takeover of Virginia’s government. In 2022, Republicans will be governor, attorney general, and lieutenant governor. They will also likely hold a two-seat majority in the House of Delegates, although two close races may go to recounts. However, they will not hold the Senate, where Democrats have a 21-to-19 majority. Still, if one Democratic senator flips on a vote, that would create a tie that lieutenant governor-elect Winsome Sears would break. Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), who House Republicans nominated for Speaker, has said that Republicans do have a mandate, but he is also aware of the need to work across the aisle with the Senate.
All that gives political novice Youngkin strong Republican support to launch efforts to fulfill his campaign promises, but also sets him up for serious challenges to get his policies across the finish line. Still, Virginia governors have extensive power to set policy and funding priorities, and Youngkin will also have executive authority, which will allow him to fulfill some key promises without legislative buy-in. Read More
The firing of Matthew Hawn, a high school teacher in Sullivan County, Tennessee, recently made national news and seemed to confirm fears that newly-enacted state bans on critical race theory (CRT) would have a chilling effect on teacher speech. Hawn, a 16-year veteran tenured teacher and baseball coach, had assigned students in his contemporary issues class Ta-Nehisi Coates’s essay, “The First White President,” and a spoken word poem from Kyla Jenée Lacey called “White Privilege.” One headline declared, “A Tennessee teacher taught a Ta-Nehisi Coates essay and a poem about white privilege. He was fired for it.” A Georgetown professor tweeted, “This really seems extreme and a harbinger of what is to come.”
But contrary to news coverage and social media chatter, Hawn wasn’t fired for violating the state’s newly passed CRT ban. Really, he was dismissed for failing to adhere to the Tennessee “Teacher Code of Ethics,” a seldom-invoked but sensible state requirement for teachers to provide students access to varying points of view on controversial topics. Not only did Hawn fail to follow this code when he assigned the contentious poem and Coates’ essay from The Atlantic, which contains claims such as, “With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness,” he also later asserted that “there is no credible source for a differing point of view.” (Hawn recently denied making such a claim, though he declined to explain why the district attributed this statement to him.) Read More
On Tuesday, the Memphis City Council adopted a resolution opposing the state legislature’s ban on critical race theory.
The item was added last-minute to the council agenda. Council members Martavius Jones, Michalyn Easter-Thomas, JB Smiley, Cheyenne Johnson, Rhonda Logan, Jeff Warren, Ford Canale, Frank Colvett, Edmund Ford, and Chase Carlisle sponsored the resolution. The council voted unanimously in favor of the resolution without discussion. Read More
The Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill effectively banning critical race theory (CRT) from K-12 education. The legislature had to create a conference committee on Wednesday to resolve the legislature’s conflict on amending language effectively banning CRT in schools. That conference committee not only approved the ban – they added onto the ban. In addition to the original language of the bill outlining and banning 14 tenets of CRT, The Tennessee Star was informed by State Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) that the conference committee report added on three tenets. In effect, these tenets further defined the prohibited conclusions typically advanced by CRT.
“(12) The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups; (13) All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; or (14) Governments should deny to any person with the government’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the law[,]” read the added provisions. Read More