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It requires gray hairs and a little experience – several decades’ worth – to remember a time when Fairfax County School Board members were appointed by the Board of Supervisors. If they proved to be less than team players, failed to act responsibly or failed to grasp that schools were part of a broader county budget, supervisors replaced them.
Then, in its, cough, wisdom, the General Assembly decided to allow localities to have elected School Boards, but without giving them the concomitant responsibility of levying taxes on the public and thus having to defend their actions to a public that might actually pay attention.
As a result, School Board posts became a target of ideologues, using the under-the-radar positions to espouse educational fads or push political causes that frequently have little to do with providing each and every Fairfax student the best education possible.
Which makes the case of at-large School Board member Abrar Omeish less an aberration and more par for the course.
Omeish gained a degree of infamy in certain circles over recent weeks for social-media screeds about Israel. And like many of us when we were in our mid-20s, she seems assured of the infallibility her convictions in ways that, for many of us by the time we hit our mid-40s and beyond, prove to be somewhat cringe-worthy memories.
We’re not going to be critical of anyone’s right to embark on such diatribes, despite the lack of nuance or perspective. She has a right to make her views known, and if voters don’t like it, they have a right to remove her when the next election rolls around. The fact that School Board members can sneak get into office without enough public scrutiny is a failing of the electorate, not the candidates.
But we do feel obligated to remind readers that Omeish is just one of many finagling their way onto school boards across the nation whose motivation seems to focus less on education and more on toxic political indoctrination.
Given the mounting evidence that school boards near and far are imposing their own faddish and frequently bizarre ideology on the public they supposedly are elected to serve, nobody should be in the least surprised.