‘Republicans are lying’: White House says GOP is being dishonest about Democrats’ education policies

Karine Jean-Pierre says GOP is ‘cynically trying to use our kids as a political football’ after education featured as a key issue in Virginia gubernatorial campaign

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Thursday 04 November 2021 20:49
211104 Reps Using Kids As Political Football
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White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday said Republicans are deliberately misrepresenting Democrats’ positions on a range of issues related to education policy.

Speaking during the White House’s daily press briefing, Ms Jean-Pierre was responding to a question about the extent to which race was a factor in Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s Tuesday victory over Democratic candidate Terry McAulife. Mr Youngkin’s campaign relied heavily on allegations that Democrats are pushing racially-divisive policies in Virginia schools.

“Republicans are lying. They’re not being honest. They’re not being truthful about where we stand, and they’re in there cynically trying to use our kids as a political football,” Ms Jean-Pierre said.

Since late last year, many prominent figures in conservative media and politics have promoted the idea that Democrats and Democratic-aligned teachers unions are using “Critical Race Theory” — a term that normally refers to an academic framework taught in law schools but has been repurposed by GOP activists to encompass a wide variety of diversity initiatives — to indoctrinate children into hating their own country by teaching about America’s history of slavery and de jure racial segregation.

Ms Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration’s position is that school curricula are “rightly up to communities around the country, the parents, the school, the school board, the teachers and the administrators,” and stressed that “politicians should not be dictating what our kids are being taught”.

She also noted that the same GOP politicians who’ve criticised Democrats for tolerating the mass closing of schools during the Covid-19 pandemic did not vote for the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan Act, which provided funding for schools to implement measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 while reopening.

“They're talking about our kids when it's election season, but they won't vote for them when it matters,” she said. “Republicans did not vote for the American rescue plan ... it had funding to make sure that schools were open, to make sure that our kids got back to school ... we know how important it is to make sure that our kids have in-person learning for their mental well being and so that they can actually learn. And so that is something that the Republicans refused, absolutely refused to vote for”.

When Ms Jean-Pierre was asked how Democrats could counter the racially-infused misinformation that looks to be a staple of GOP campaigns heading into the 2022 midterms, she replied: “President Biden ran on bringing Americans together, he ran on respecting the fundamental human dignity of every person.

“That means addressing barriers that are holding Americans back, and it means people should be treated equally and judged by the content of their character instead of the colour of their skin,” she said.

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