Parents of Fairfax County, no matter your politics, your religion, or your creed, the time has come to put aside our disagreements and work together to save our schools. Facing an unprecedented crisis brought on by those entrusted with our children’s education, we must work together and demand new leadership that will put our school children first.
These past few years have been a bitter pill for parents to swallow. The school system has demonstrated to us all that it no longer puts the academic needs and wellbeing of its students first. While parents once moved to this county for its excellent schools, in the last few years more than 10,000 students have fled the school system. While schools lay shuttered, the school board debated changing the names of schools that weren’t even open. While buses sat gathering dust, the school system patted itself on the back for purchasing electric buses. While the school board congratulated itself on its equity initiatives, FCPS was investigated and sued for violating the civil rights of students with disabilities.
Parents have had enough. We have had enough of being ignored. We have had enough of being told that we are not allowed to criticize a school system that no longer sees its primary mission as providing our children with an exceptional education. We will no longer be silent.
The leadership of this school system is not even trying to hide where its priorities have gone awry. Watch any school board meeting or town hall and you will not hear any concern with the devastating learning loss faced by our children, or with how we can provide the rigorous academics our kids need to succeed in a highly competitive global economy. Instead, the only concern of those entrusted with the leadership of our school system is equity.
Yet, the word equity here is a misnomer. The school board doesn’t want to raise the expectations for every child and provide them with the very best education possible. They don’t want to fix the problem, they want to fix or “reframe” the narrative. They want to loudly proclaim their virtue, while doing nothing except lowering the bar for all of our children.
Our new Superintendent, Michelle Reid, perfectly reflects these values. She was strongly opposed by parent groups, student groups, and teachers groups, because her record demonstrates that, despite talking a good game, she is a leader that puts the interests of students last. Indeed, in her introduction to FCPS video, she made it clear that academics would not be the priority, professing her fervent desire to use our school system as a gateway for societal change and achieve “equity of outcome” for all our students no matter what the educational cost.
I don’t know about you all, but we did not move into Fairfax County Public Schools for equal outcomes. We moved here, stayed here, and suffer the prices here, for Excellence and I do not mean the reimagined definition that includes lowering standards.
As a middle of the road voter, I have stood before the school board on three separate occasions to personally beg them to return to the ideals of equality of opportunity and rigorous academics and to put aside the desire to serve narrow special interest groups that do not exist for children.
My pleas have fallen on deaf ears. The school system will not change on its own. It will not serve our children until we all join together to demand that it do so.
I am asking you to tune in, watch, listen and have conversations with your children about what they are being taught to make sure it is developmentally appropriate and challenging enough academically. Raise concerns with teachers, principals, regional superintendents, and school board members, but most important of all, I ask that you remember. The problems that parents see every day are not incidental or random, they are not bugs of the system, but the foreseeable effect of a school system that has lost its way.
The only way to fix this is with new leadership. The 12 members of the school board and the new superintendent have shown that they will not put politics aside to work for our kids. They have shown us that the very concept of putting children over politics is an anathema to them.
It is time for a change. A lot of common-sense parents will no longer blindly vote for whoever was chosen by special interest groups to appear on the blue ballot. Instead, the time has come to put aside such narrow considerations, and vote for new leaders. We need leaders that will question the group think of the current FCPS administration and put our children first.