[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]
Editor: School boards in Virginia have traditionally been a place where thoughtful adults came together and parked their political beliefs to the side to do what is best for our children. Fairfax County Public Schools has been known as a place where we nurture learners to excel at all levels and ensure children in special education are not forgotten.
The global pandemic has shown Fairfax County parents – on both sides of the political aisle – this is not the case. What we have seen firsthand in our county is a School Board that is mostly made up of unaccomplished politicians and self-professed do-gooders who are in way over their collective heads.
We can all agree this past year has been tough. The pandemic has taken a toll on children, educators, and families.
We can also agree on the facts – that the current School Board has done everything but find a meaningful path to get our children back into school safely five days a week like most liberal Western democracies and a majority of states across the country.
Because of the incompetence by our School Board, thousands of children have left the school system to be homeschooled or attend private school, likely never to return again.
Parents, mostly mothers, have been forced to leave good-paying jobs that put food on the table, and children have fallen woefully behind academically – especially those in underserved communities.
Military service members are having their orders changed from the National Capital Region because they do not trust the school system to open for learning five days a week. This is a national-security crisis, because we need our uniformed service members at work to protect us from our adversaries, not participating in Zoom-school with their kids.
The school system has willfully ignored federal law regarding special-education children, to the point where they are under investigation by the Department of Education for not meeting the needs of special-education students. Individual education plans (IEPs) were re-written without parental consent, and translators working with the parents of English as a Second Language students reportedly were told to lie to those parents during meetings about services offered by the school system.
Children have suffered depression from unnatural isolation created by the shuttering of schools, and, tragically, there has been a spike in suicides across the country. Another heart-wrenching story are the countless children in physically and sexually abusive homes who have been trapped, because our School Board decided to side with organized labor and ignored scientific data on how to open schools safely.
Children in these traumatic settings often go to adults in the school system seeking refuge but that could only happen if schools were open. There are also countless “ghost” students who never returned to the school district after last spring. They just disappeared, and no one knows where they are or if these children are safe.
And what has the School Board done? They have sided with organized labor over children in keeping schools shuttered (kids don’t have cash – unions do). Ignored the American Academy of Pediatrics repeatedly about the science behind the Covid-19 virus. They have fallen all over themselves to change the names of schools; gutted the merit-based test for the top high school in the nation (Thomas Jefferson); worked behind the scenes to obliterate advanced math, making our children less competitive for top colleges; and are currently working behind the scenes to gut the social-studies curriculum so it reflects its version of a “woke” culture, to include removing the Pledge of Allegiance.
They have also asked Virginia Department of Education to postpone key assessments on poorly performing schools in the county, kicking the can down the street for another year.
Most recently, we have discovered they have hired a organization from New York for hundreds of thousands of precious tax dollars meant for the classroom, to create a survey that insinuates hard-working and caring parents in this county are inherently racist.
What can parents and voters do about this?
First off, never ever vote for a straight party ticket again. Learn about each and every candidate individually and do not blindly vote for a School Board candidate without checking their credentials.
Second, take the time to sit through a School Board meeting, listen and learn. You will see for yourself they hardly ever talk about educating our children.
Finally, get in involved and vote out this School Board in 2023.
Jo-Anne Sears, Falls Church