Lazy Mainstream Media Lied to Virginia

by Kerry Dougherty

Chances are you saw them. Friday’s headlines screaming that “133 Virginia School Superintendents” were protesting Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s reforms to public education, which had been a cornerstone of his campaign.

Every dang school chief in the commonwealth opposes him, they claimed.

Here’s the first paragraph from The Washington Post:

RICHMOND — All 133 Virginia public school division superintendents have urged Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) to scrap the “tip line” set up to let parents complain about teachers and principals and have asked him to stop his campaign against the teaching of “divisive” content in schools.

The old newspaper reporter in me was skeptical. EVERY superintendent in Virginia? Not a single one supports the governor? Even the superintendents in the small, conservative enclaves of Southwestern Virginia? They’re all on board with equity training and equity-based outcomes?

The protest letter came from the Virginia Association of School Superintendents. Like most education organizations this one leans left. Membership dues are on a sliding scale, depending on the size of the school district. Since professional dues are almost usually covered by taxpayers, this non-profit is indirectly funded by the public.

Lucky us.

Turns out those headlines were — let’s be honest — lies.

It took a Richmond television station to finally report the truth. Buried deep in its news story about the outrage over Youngkin’s policies was this gem:

“VASS Executive Director Ben Kiser clarified that the letter was crafted and adopted by the 12 member board and doesn’t necessarily reflect a consensus among all of its members.”

A 12-member board is not the same as 133 school superintendents. Not even close.

Yet these far-left radicals on the board of VASS penned a letter, claimed to be speaking for all superintendents and news outlets from The Washington Post to television news breathlessly ran with it without asking a single question. Democrats were doing their happy dance in Richmond.

In fact, in every news story the focus was the universal opposition to the governor’s policies.

Those policies include striking down the skewed equity-based admissions policies at the governor’s magnet schools that have resulted in the purging of Asian-American students. (The policy at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology was just ruled illegal by a federal judge.)

And there’s opposition to the Richmond tip line that allows parents to report divisive practices or CRT training in their public schools. That raises the question, why are educators so fearful?

Frankly, with disgruntled parents being treated like pariahs at school board meetings, a tip line may be the best way to protect the identities of citizens who don’t want to endure public ridicule by elected officials.

Naturally, when the news broke, there was gloating from State Sen. Louise Lucas, the Democrat who represents Portsmouth, home to some of the worst schools in Virginia:

This Tweet would be laughable — Lucas talking about Youngkin destroying public schools given the state of education in Portsmouth — but it’s sad. The politicians who represent that city push casinos and weed and shrug while the public schools continue to underperform.

There was a time when any partially sober editor would have thrown those “All-133-School-Superintendents” stories back at reporters and ordered them to make a phone call to confirm that every single superintendent in Virginia was on board with the letter.

That didn’t happen. Hey, the story fit an anti-Youngkin narrative. Nothing else mattered.

The mainstream media doesn’t like the term “fake news.” But all too often, that’s what they peddle.

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.