by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe put the nail in his own campaign coffin last year when he said in the final debate, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” In a state that President Biden won by 10 points the year before, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated the former governor on the issue of parental rights in education.
Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had a “Terry McAuliffe moment” of her own Tuesday night — a couple, in fact. They might just lead to her own defeat.
In the Great Lakes State’s final debate, Whitmer addressed parental concerns about sexualized materials in schools that her Republican challenger, Tudor Dixon, raised by asking — after a chuckle — “Do you really think books are more dangerous than guns?” She wrote off the worries as a diversion, saying Dixon “is trying to distract us” by “waging these fights.”
Does Whitmer think the parents who showed up in force to the school board meetings in Dearborn, Mich., objecting to sexualized materials are just a distraction, too?
Worse, Whitmer tried to downplay her role in keeping schools closed during the pandemic: “You know, Mrs. Dixon says I kept students out longer than any other state,” she said, but “kids were out [of school] for three months.”
Her claim is patently false. Whitmer ordered Michigan schools to close for the remainder of the school year on April 2, 2020. After the governor lost her authority to issue executive orders, her health director issued an emergency order in fall 2020 closing schools for three weeks. In December, Whitmer’s administration extended high school closures for two more weeks. In fact, Michigan Catholic schools sued the state in federal court for banning in-person instruction in public and private schools.