Newly elected Virginia Lt. Governor Winsome Sears went toe-to-toe with a CNN host who said that Critical Race Theory was not taught in schools, saying that it has been woven into the curriculum for years.
On Sunday morning, Dana Bash quizzed Sears – the first woman the first woman to become Lt. Governor and first woman of color elected to a statewide office in Virginia – on CNN’s State of the Union.
At one point during the interview, Bash said that CRT was not being taught in schools, at which point Sears interrupted her, saying: ‘No, no, no it is part of the curriculum.’
Sears, who previously served on Virginia’s board of education, continued: ‘It’s weaved in and out of the curriculum. In 2015, former governor, who was just defeated, McAuliffe, his state board of education had information on how to teach it, so it’s weaved in. So you know, it’s semantics, but it’s weaved in.’
Critical Race Theory was a decisive issue in the recent Governor’s race between Glenn Youngkin and Democrate Terry McAuliffe, with parents fed up with the state’s woke school boards who don’t want their children to be taught that they’re bad or good depending on their race.
The use of critical race theory, or CRT, in education has been criticized for its message that the US is built on racism with skin color determining the social, economic, and political differences between each.
Advocates say its teaching is necessary to underline how deeply racism pervades society, critics say it is divisive and paints everyone as a victim or oppressor, with multiple Virginia school board meetings making headlines after parents were filmed clashing with staff over the decision to teach it.
Republican newcomer and now elected Governor Glenn Youngkin pledged to ban CRT, seizing on the discontent of parents who had grown agitated after the Loudon County school board announced a $6million ‘equity-training’ program that parents associated with CRT.
Meanwhile, Democratic contender Terry McAuliffe, whose administration Sears accused of having information on how to teach CRT, told parents not to influence what schools teach their children.
CNN host Dana Bash questioned Lt Governor-elect Winsome Sears, the first woman to become Lt Governor and first woman of color elected to a statewide office in Virginia, on what she thought was the best way to approach race in American classrooms
Although there is no evidence that CRT is taught in American K-12 classrooms, the theory was a decisive issue in the Virginia gubernatorial elections. Sears’ ticket mate and now elected Governor Glenn Youngkin (left) pledged to ban CRT, while defeated Democratic contender Terry McAuliffe (right), whose administration Sears accused of having information on how to teach CRT, told parents not to influence what schools teach their children
During the segment, Sears told Bash: ‘What we want to say and what governor-elect Youngkin has said is that all of history must be taught, the good, the bad and the ugly because what we learn from history, Dana, is that we don’t learn from history and we continue to repeat the same mistakes.’
The new Lt. Governor also promised an education system that represents ‘all people.’
‘My God, when did education become a bad word among black people? No. We are going to have a good education system,’ she said.
‘No, we are going to have a good education system. It’s going to represent all people. And I’m going to help see that through. Education lifted my father out of poverty when he came to America with only $1.75. Education lifted me because I have to find my own way in this world, and education will lift all of us.’
The tight Youngkin-McAuliffe race took a turn after the Republican newcomer pledged to ban CRT.
‘Our schools are teaching our kids what to think as opposed to how to think. We’re going to go in on day one and re-establish excellence in schools,’ Youngkin said during an interview with Sean Hannity before the election.
Loudon County, a Democratic stronghold in northern Virginia, became the focal point of debate over woke policies by school boards across the country.
In April, the county announced that it planned to allocate more than $6 million to ‘equity training’ which was met with strong opposition by some residents.
Parents claimed that training was part of a pro-CRT push which would lead to students seeing themselves as victims or oppressors, depending on their race.
Protests then reignited in September, when the school board voted 6-3 in favor of beginning a study into whether it would be appropriate to give reparations to black people after it previously ignored a landmark desegregation ruling.
Virginia’s Lt. Governor-elect Winsome Sears, left, meets with Senate Clerk Susan Schaar at the Virginia Capitol in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021
Sears ticket mate, Gov Youngkin, vowed to ban critical race theory from schools and said he would open an investigation into the Loudoun County School Board, which has been marred in controversy over an alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl by a boy in a skirt in a high school bathroom
Parents protest against anti-racist teachings in the school district while officials insist CRT is not on the curriculum
A man is detained after a fight broke out during a Loudoun County School Board meeting which included a discussion of Critical Race Theory and transgender students
CRITICAL RACE THEORY: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The fight over critical race theory in schools has escalated in the United States over the last year.
The theory has sparked a fierce nationwide debate in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country over the last year and the introduction of the 1619 Project.
The 1619 Project, which was published by the New York Times in 2019 to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on American shores, reframes American history by ‘placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the US narrative’.
The debate surrounding critical race theory regards concerns that some children are being indoctrinated into thinking that white people are inherently racist or sexist.
Those against critical race theory have argued it reduces people to the categories of ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color.
Supporters, however, say the theory is vital to eliminating racism because it examines the ways in which race influence American politics, culture and the law.
Youngkin said he would banned CRT from schools and said he would open an investigation into the Loudoun County School Board, which has further marred in controversy over an alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl by a boy wearing a skirt in a high school bathroom.
Sears may be less known for her policy positions than for a campaign photo showing the 57-year-old former Marine posing with a military rifle.
The image launched the Republican from political obscurity after a nearly 20-year absence from elected office to win the GOP’s nomination for lieutenant governor, and she completed her comeback in November as Republicans swept Virginia’s top offices.
Those who know her say Sears is more than a gun-toting caricature – they point to her willingness to buck her own party at times, and her dedication to school choice and other conservative education priorities.
The photo grabbed attention, but she held it with an engaging, almost stream-of-consciousness speaking style, firing up the crowds for her ticket mate Youngkin.
‘When you tell me that I´m a victim … how? Tell me how,’ she said in one campaign speech in which she emphasized the progress that’s been made over the decades in American race relations. ‘Everything I´ve had, I´ve had to work for. Everything.’
Sears has embraced President Donald Trump, serving as co-chair of a group called Black Americans to Re-elect President Trump, and defending him against charges of racism. Still, she has taken action when she believes Republicans fall short on racial issues.
In 2018, she launched a write-in campaign for US Senate when Corey Stewart, whose campaign had links to white supremacists and used the Confederate flag as a prop, won the GOP nomination.
‘The Republican Party never saluted the Confederate flag, did not fight under the Confederate flag … and he is our candidate, our nominee?’ she said at the time. ‘He does not represent the party of Lincoln. … He is not a true Republican.’
Lt. Gov. Gov.-elect Winsome Sears arrives to speak before Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin at an election night party in Chantilly, Virginia
Republican Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears speaks before Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin at an election night party in Chantilly, Virginia
Republican elected Governor Glenn Youngkin speaks with elected Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears after a rally in Fredericksburg, Va., Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021
When she is sworn in in January, Sears will be the first woman in the post, which is considered part time but often is a launching pad for future governors. Five of the past 10 lieutenant governors in Virginia have gone on to serve as governor.
Former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder, the nation’s first African American elected governor, said Sears has an independent streak that has served her well.
‘She’s experienced, and she’s shown she´s someone who´s willing to listen, and willing to learn,’ said Wilder, a Democrat, who met with Sears during the campaign and has agreed to serve on Youngkin´s transition team.
Presiding over the Senate is one of the lieutenant governor’s key duties but the job could be more than ceremonial for Sears since Republicans not only won the governor’s’ mansion, but also reclaimed a majority in the House of Delegates.
That leaves the 21-19 Senate as Democrats´ last bastion of power, with Sears poised to cast tie-breaking votes whenever a single Democrat can be lured to the Republican side.
‘We´re going to need new voters if we´re going to win,’ she said in a GOP podcast earlier this year. ‘You know where we´re going to get them from? The only place: the Democrats. They’re in the Democratic Party, they´re conservatives, and they don’t even know it.’