Education Discussion and latest on Virginia Governor Election with Luke Rosiak

Show Notes

Luke Rosiak Discusses his Loudoun County school board reporting

By Joe Duffus

Public school education has roared into the national debate in the last two years pulled by two runaway horses: Critical Race Theory (CRT) and how schools accommodate trans students. School board meetings across the country have become shouting matches as parents angrily object to curriculum changes that introduce CRT-inspired curriculum into K-12 schools, or to policies allowing trans students to use the bathroom or compete on sports teams of their chosen gender identity, instead of their biological sex.

As a Fellow of the Government Accountability Institute, Luke Rosiak investigated these issues for two years and wrote his second book, “Race to the Bottom: Uncovering the Secret Forces Destroying American Public Education.” The book will be published in March. After finishing the manuscript, Luke joined and broke the Virginia story of how the rape of a student in a school bathroom was covered up by Loudoun County Public Schools. Luke joins Peter and Eric on today’s episode, to drill down on a story that has electrified this year’s gubernatorial election in Virginia.

Applauding Luke’s reporting, Peter Schweizer praises Luke as “the best young journalist in America today.” He is, Peter says, “relentless, not reckless” in digging out the facts behind this story, which has received lots of national attention.

The story in Loudoun County began with a newly elected school board debating the adoption of controversial rules that would allow trans students to use the bathroom of their gender identity. A teacher who spoke against the measure was suspended from his job and filed a successful suit against the school board for suspending him for his free speech. A parent became unruly at a school board meeting and was violently removed by police. Luke learned that the parent objected because his own daughter had been sexually assaulted in the girl’s bathroom by a male student wearing a skirt and claiming to be “gender-fluid.” Luke’s reporting for The Dailywire revealed the school’s handling of this incident, the filing of a lawsuit by that parent against Loudoun County Public Schools, and that the school’s superintendent knew about but denied such an incident had even occurred when he was asked about it in a public school board meeting a month later.

The story has continued to spiral, resulting in the resignation of one school board member and calls for the firing of school superintendent Scott Ziegler and the rest of the school board. The violent arrest of the girl’s father at the school board meeting was cited in a letter sent by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, who then ordered the FBI to investigate angry parents who show up to these meetings as “domestic terrorists.” NSBA later retracted and apologized for that letter, but Garland has not backed down from his order, despite congressional criticism from Republicans in the US Senate.

This issue has also electrified the gubernatorial race in Virginia, after Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe said in a debate that “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach.” His Republican opponent, businessman Glenn Youngkin, seized the issue and the race has tightened to a dead heat as voters have identified “education” as the biggest issue in recent polls.

Luke’s reporting revealed today that Terry McAuliffe worked for the last two years as an advisor to a law firm, Hunton Andrews Kurth, that defends school boards against lawsuits brought by students and their parents, including a current suit by a girl who alleges she was gang-raped at a middle school in nearby Fairfax County ten years ago.

Luke tells Eric and Peter that Loudoun County is the story of an effort to marginalize parents. “There is an entrenched faction of ideologues who’ve been involved in local politics for years. They began to think of it as their personal fiefdom,” Luke says, adding that Loudoun school board elections are typically low turnout affairs, so they [the school board members] don’t really have much of a mandate.

Until the recent controversies, their meetings did not have much turnout either. Political commentator Matt Walsh, who lives in Tennessee, made headlines after the Loudoun school board limited speaking slots at its meetings to local residents only. Walsh signed a one-day lease in Loudoun County so he could speak at the meeting, generating even more media attention.

Eric asks Luke what he has learned from covering this story. “School districts do not have the same incentives, the same motives and priorities as parents. They’re discrete interest groups. Why would they have the same interests?” That extends to politicians, as well. Peter notes that Terry McAuliffe, who served previously as Virginia’s governor from 2013 to 2017, has four children who all attended the expensive, private Potomac School. That school costs $30,000 a year to attend and has 17 separate Parent-Teacher Association committees.