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Take Back Fairfax: Enough is Enough!

Reproduced with permission from

There is a theory in political science (the name of which escapes me) the gist of which is that the more things a government agency tries to do, the worse it is at everything it does.  Put another way, when an agency switches from its core mission to unrelated issues, it performs poorly at both its core mission and the unrelated task.

This is similar to the concept of negative marginal utility in economics, but with the important difference of causation.  It is not that focusing on unrelated tasks necessarily causes the decline in efficiency in the core tasks, just that the decline is there.  It could be that the government focuses on the unrelated tasks because it realizes it is not succeeding in its core mission.  Regardless of the reason, when a government agency seeks to extend its mandate, everything and everyone is worse off.

The Fairfax County School Board appears to be suffering from this problem.  Rather than focusing on its core mission - making sure all of our students get a first rate education - the school board spends its time chasing phantom issues such as purported discrimination against transgendered students* and whether J.E.B. Stuart High School should get a new name.

What is the board not addressing?  Basically everything else.  How successfully is the school system combating the infiltration of gangs in our schools, including MS-13?  What is the state of general education?  Are students learning everything they should?  Can they read?  Do they have basic historical and cultural literacy?  Who knows – so far as I am aware, these questions are not even mentioned, let alone discussed.  As a parent of two FCPS elementary schoolers, I know that everything is not just roses and lollipops.  For example, at my children’s school getting into the “advanced academic program” (can’t call it “gifted and talented” any more!) is very competitive.  This is in part because parents realize that the non-AAP curriculum is not rigorous enough to properly challenge and educate the students.  This is an issue that appears to be wholly absent from school board discussion.

But don't take my word for it - listen to this recent J.E.B. Stuart graduate who seems to understanding this phenomenon much better than most members of the school board.  It's only three minutes long, and well worth your time (video should start at 46:11).

So I say enough.  I say it is time for the concerned parents of FCPS to take a stand and demand that the school board and FCPS administration put the focus back on the classroom.  It is not enough for us to start thinking about the school board and how our schools are run, at best, in the last week of October every four years.  We have to be engaged.  We have to pressure the board to focus on what matters, all the time.  Do what is best for all students, not just the vocal minority.  Make sure all students are exposed to a broad and rigorous curriculum that is the envy of the world.  If all FCPS students are from Lake Wobegon (where all the children are above average!), then maybe worry about ancillary issues - but for crying out loud, take some evidence first.

Check back often for updates on board activity and discussions of the topics that the board is addressing . . . as well as those it is not.

*this will be addressed at length in other posts but, to be clear, it's not that board is addressing transgendered kids being bullied or otherwise put in physical danger, but that they think (erroneously) that Fairfax County Public Schools are openly and actively discriminating against those students.


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