This was the scene at the school board meeting held last week in my city of Alexandria, VA.
I don’t know about you, but it seems like they might be trying to send a message to the community. I’ll take a wild guess.
While the t-shirts and Zoom backgrounds cheerfully declare, “We’re On An Anti-Racist Journey,” the real message to parents isn’t so friendly. It screams: “Go away! We don’t care what you have to say!”
The intent is clear, too. They want to intimidate parents who might want to attend a school board meeting to ask questions, engage in conversation, find out why the school is pursuing certain policies, or express even slight discomfort with the political indoctrination they see in schools. These are what school boards are supposed to be about. They are community members elected to oversee public school superintendents and the school’s top staff. They are supposed to be advocates for parents. Yet, increasingly, school boards are just rubber stamps for teachers’ unions and corrupt school leaders.
This is a perfect example of a school board that’s forgotten its role. After all, what parent would feel comfortable speaking in front of this hive mind? How are they inspiring or encouraging parent input, parent involvement, open and free thought?
They’re not! That’s the point.
These board members are clever. They’ve gone on defense because they know that, all over the country, parents are getting wise to what’s really happening in schools. And many parents have had enough. The powerful viral videos are out there showing a diverse group of parents from all races, economic, and educational levels, native born and immigrant to this country, speaking out against critical race theory, the 1619 Project curriculum, anti-racist training of school staff, and other woke school policies. These brave parents are inspiring other, more timid parents to do the same, consequences be damned. People seem to understand that these policies are dangerous to kids, to communities, and to overall national wellbeing.
Yet these school board members want to put an end to dissent. They don’t want to hear from parents and so they are conveying a powerful coordinated message that says their constituents’ concerns and opinions don’t matter and that those who hold these (totally reasonable and widely shared) positions aren’t welcome at school board meetings.
Behold the power of groupthink!
For those unfamiliar with the entangled issues of Critical Race Theory (CRT), anti-racist ideology, or the 1619 curriculum that’s currently being used in schools (public and private!) throughout the country, IWF is a great resource. A good place to start learning about it is by listening to Inez Feltscher’s High Noon podcasts, especially the episode featuring the brilliant and heterodox John McWhorter and another with the always thought-provoking Christopher Rufo—both leading voices on these issues (and both of whom encourage and welcome open discussion and debate!).
Also be sure to check out my own Bespoke Parenting Hour podcast on how CRT is destroying the nation’s education system and another where I talk about how teachers now increasingly view themselves as anti-racists activists.
And don’t miss Jennifer Braceras’ quick and helpful quiz where you can test your own knowledge on CRT as well as her Facebook live telecast (cohosted by Inez) At the Bar where they discuss the topic with Charles Love of 1776 Unites and Stanley Kurtz, of Harvard University and the University of Chicago.
Patrice’s Onwuka provides an interesting perspective on the issue in her recent op-ed on Juneteenth, and don’t miss Patrice’s She Thinks podcast with civil rights legend Bob Woodson, who has emerged as a leading critic of the 1619 project’s curriculum and CRT training in schools. Inez Feltscher also has an op-ed on the 1619 curriculum, where she explains its intent to teach kids to hate their country. And for a deeper dive, read Charlotte Hays blog on the black historians who are courageously pushing back on CRT and on the 1619 project. Charlotte has many other blogs on the subject here, here, and here).
Hundreds of parents have shared their stories about the dangers of CRT in their children’s classrooms through our Kids First campaign. Stacey Whomsley is a mother of two special-needs students who stood up to her local school system. Share your story with us too.
As for my woke school board, clearly they’re proud that they’re pushing destructive CRT and anti-racist ideologies on very young students who are still reeling from the disruption of school closures, social isolation, and educational losses. I mean, what better time to indoctrinate a bunch of young minds into Marxist thought than when they are vulnerable, educationally adrift, and anxious about their futures.
Sadly, indoctrination is the number one priority of this board and the Superintendent. Fun fact about the these public school figures: Both the Superintendent of ACPS Gregory Hutchings (he’s middle right in the picture) and the school board chair Meagan Alderton (top left of the picture) send their kids to an open private school in Alexandria (how privileged of them!), as do six members of the nine-member school board. In other words, these elected officials have no idea what’s happening in the schools they manage and can’t in any way understand what parents and kids have dealt with during the 16-month shut down.
What isn’t a priority for this school board is education or child health and safety. In fact, ACPS school district remains mostly closed. Kids are only going to school in-person two times a week (where most kids sit at a desk staring at their computer while the VACCINATED teacher zooms in from their couch at home!) and Mondays are entirely teacher-free (ACPS uses the word “Asynchronous” for this teacher day off—sounds super official, doesn’t it?). The other two days, all students are home taught via Zoom link up. So, in other words, still closed!
The data on Alexandria’s students is pretty grim. According to its own reports, huge numbers of kids are failing academically, particularly minority and special needs kids. A large number of children have stopped attending school altogether. They are literally missing! These school board members also know that this community has seen higher levels of depression and anxiety among children. Youth suicide rates are at the highest levels since 2000. Child advocates are very worried that child abuse and neglect are going underreported.
Families are fleeing the city’s local public schools. Even parents who are supportive (in some vague way) of some of these policies have admitted they’re leaving the system. There’s a simple reason why: they understand that education isn’t the priority among these woke officials.
Perhaps t-shirts should be made for the kids who remain. They could all say “My school board visited Woketown, and all I got was a lousy t-shirt!”