Tbatb via Wikimedia Commons

At the beginning of 2021, it seemed unlikely — even well-nigh impossible — that education would play a pivotal role in Virginia’s elections.

But starting with school board meetings that went viral (thanks to politically engaged parents) debate over our childrens’ education went viral and propelled conservatives to victory.

As Fox News reports:

Local school board meetings seemed to catapult onto the national stage during 2021 in a way that they hadn’t in previous years. Upset by certain sexual and racial content, parents issued fiery denunciations of school boards, protested and even pursued recall elections against local officials.

The battle over critical race theory (CRT) had started emerging at least since last year as Loudoun County, Virginia, parents criticized the district’s equity materials. While other districts in the U.S. had dealt with the issue, Loudoun appeared to gain the most attention, and the state as a whole would become a test case for the political saliency of education.

Across the country, parents have alleged that school officials failed to adequately respond or retaliated against them for raising concerns about content in schools. Loudoun was no different. Early in 2021, the county was rocked by news that a group of parents had been attempting to compile a list of other residents who opposed CRT.

The relative novelty of some of the content’s claims also helped draw attention to the issue. For example, Fox News previously reported on Oregon promoting a teacher training program that sought to dismantle racism in mathematics. One of the materials claimed, among other things, that White supremacy was behind the focus on finding the right answer.