[Sun Gazette editorials represent the viewpoint of Sun Gazette Newspapers, which provides content to, but is otherwise unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

“What’s going on with the School Board?” That was the query of one plugged-in, yet mystified, Arlington leader after news came last week that board member Nancy Van Doren would not be seeking a new term in 2020, just as her board colleague Tannia Talento earlier had announced plans to pass on a re-election bid.

Frankly, we’d say that deciding to get off the School Board is a sign of solid mental health and good judgment. Even with the bazillion of dollars at their disposal, board members will never be able to satisfy the often unrealistic, exorbitant and extortionate demands of local parents in terms of facilities and programs. And so much of the work  these days is taken up in dealing with the impacts of current and future growth, leaving precious little time to focus on what should be the prime component of the job: improving student achievement.

And improvement is needed. A recent headline from the Bezos Bulletin (er, Washington Post): “U.S. Students Continue to Lag Behind Peers in East Asia and Europe in Reading, Math and Science.” Followed by: “The results of an international exam suggest U.S. schools are not doing enough to prepare young people for the competitive global economy.”

(We’re sure the retort will be that local schools are producing results superior to the national average. But that national average is in such sorry shape, being 20 or 30 percent better is hardly something to crow about.)

We’ve had our quibbles with the School Board – you may have noticed – but Van Doren and Talento frequently have served as sober voices trying to keep the school system moving ahead in a positive way. We thank them.

But we also fear that, going forward, the only people willing to put up with the grief the job entails will be social-justice warriors insistent that schools should be more about ideological indoctrination than anything else. With public education already on life support, such “leadership” could be the final straw before the time comes to implode the entire system (at all levels) and start anew.

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