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Virginia’s ‘divisive concepts’ tip line receives hundreds of e-mails on numerous topics, documents show

Virginia’s ‘divisive concepts’ tip line receives hundreds of e-mails on numerous topics, documents show


Washington
CNN

A controversial Virginia education tip line set up earlier this year to gather information about so-called “divisive concepts” taught in the classroom has generated a flood of comments that led to a generic hotline for the public school system, according to a sample of emails reviewed by CNN .

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced earlier this year, the line has received emails ranging from concerns about civil rights violations to positive feedback about teachers.

On his first day in office, Youngkin issued an executive order banning critical race theory from public school curriculum, even though it was not included in Virginia’s learning standards.

Following the order, Youngkin posted an advisory for parents to report concerns about these topics being taught in the classroom.

Youngkin said at the time that it would give “great insight” into what’s going on in Virginia schools. “And that gives us an extra, extra ability to make sure we root it out,” Youngkin previously told The John Fredericks Show .

He immediately met resistance to the idea, including from Virginia Democratic Rep. Marcus Simon, who said it was reminiscent of authoritarian regimes.

“It’s ironic that the Freedom Party is really trying to limit the kind of ideas that can be taught in Virginia classrooms,” CNN’s Simon Eva McCand said.

In April, CNN, along with more than a dozen other outlets, including the Washington Post, Axios Media and Sinclair Broadcast Group, filed a lawsuit seeking access to the tipped-off correspondence.

The lawsuit was filed after the governor’s office refused to provide documents requested by individual media outlets. The media organizations reached a settlement with the governor’s office, which produced some of the emails received by the correspondent.

It is not clear how many total responses the tip line received.

Comments sent to the top range from what appear to be genuine concerns about the critical teachings of race theory to numerous emails from advocates about alleged violations of federal law.

CNN has reached out to Youngkin’s office for comment on the tip and the allegations.

In the emails reviewed by CNN, there were also concerns about institutionalized racism, wearing masks in schools, repeating the math curriculum and one woman who said she wanted to flood the list with positive comments.

“I hope you are fine. I wrote a message to the governor every day for 34 straight days and you were the subject of today’s message,” one person wrote in February 2022. “I know the tip line is designed for people to scream at teachers or schools, but I decided to use it to share the good things teachers do.”

Others expressed frustration with school districts and administration.

One attorney, who appears in many of the documents presented in the lawsuit, wrote in April, arguing that there are systematic violations of civil rights in Virginia.

“Special education in Virginia is in crisis….our black children are suffering irreparable harm. …CRT is not a threat,” the attorney wrote as part of a partially redacted email.

Another tipster wrote that they “do not support banning critical race theory in public schools or banning any books!”

One person, who said he was a student at Auburn High School in Riner (Montgomery County), wrote to complain about the “Critical Theory” curriculum. “The first book we read is ‘Beowulf.’ All my teacher wants to talk about is how the book is sexist because it portrays warriors as men and not women,” wrote a person whose name has been redacted.

“I believe my teacher is violating Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order prohibiting the teaching of ‘divisive topics,'” the person added.



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