FCPS School Board Wasting Tax Money on Leftist Lobbying

Originally posted at takebackfairfax.org

At its next meeting (December 1) the school board will adopt its “State and Federal Legislative Program.”  As I understand it, this is the school board’s way of setting its lobbying priorities for the coming year.  While I did not have time to review the document in-depth, a number of the items show that the board lacks seriousness and is more enamored with left-wing causes than focusing on what is best for Fairfax County students.
A few items that jumped out at me:

  • Apparently the school board is stuck in the 1970s, as it “supports passage by the United States Congress and ratification by the Virginia General Assembly of a federal constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal rights to women.”  (p. 9).  Leaving aside the fact that this is substantively stupid (last time I checked, the equal protection clause didn’t care if you had ovaries), no one is thinking about reviving the corpse of the equal rights amendment because 1) it would not even get a majority of the votes in Congress, let alone the two-thirds required, and 2) even if it did, it would not be ratified by three-quarters of the states.  But, even if it were possible for the amendment to pass (it’s not), the board does not in any way attempt to tie an equal rights amendment to the operation of the school system.  What does the board want to do now but can’t because there is no equal rights amendment in the constitution?  What burdens does it deal with because it can only invoke the plain-old equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, instead of one that explicitly cares about your gender?*  The fact that the board included this form of lefty virtue signaling (something that, sadly, it does on a regular basis) in its legislative program reveals that it is not at all serious about addressing the real challenges that FCPS faces.

  • The board is also hostile to homeschoolers, as it “opposes mandates to require local school boards to allow students who are not currently enrolled full time in a public school in their locality to participate in student athletics and activities.”  (p. 18).  This is the school board’s version of taking its playground ball and going home by not letting homeschooled children participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.  The board has already failed these children by driving them from the school system in the first place.  It compounds this failure by opposing legislative mandates (presumably from the government of the Commonwealth) allowing these students to participate in sports and extracurricular activities, which the board recognizes are an integral part of the academic experience.  It also is counterproductive if the board is approaching it from a cost-savings perspective; if the board wants to save money on in-school education it should make homeschooling as easy as possible, not erect barriers to those students participating in things that cannot be replicated at home, such as extracurricular activities

  • The board is also anti-second amendment and anti-common sense because it “supports allowing localities the option of regulating the proximity of a gun store to a public school.”   (p. 19).  This appears to be a nod to Jane Strauss (Dranesville).  For those of you who do not remember, over a year ago there was a minor to-do in McLean, championed by Strauss, when a gun store decided to relocate near an elementary school.  In the thinking of the protesters (and apparently the school board) someone intent on shooting up a school and killing lots of defenseless children will be deterred by having to drive an extra five minutes out of the way.  In what universe does this actually happen?**

  • The board also opposes legislative initiatives that would bring school choice to Fairfax County and free students from being trapped in failing schools.  (p. 21).  While I recognize that this is more complicated and more controversial, there’s no reason to think that Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman got it wrong when he wrote in chapter 7 of Capitalism and Freedom that governments should concern themselves with funding schools, not with running schools.  The fact that the board actively opposes efforts to introduce competition into the public school system suggests a greater concern for the school system apparatus--and its administrators and faculty--than its students.

  • The board also thinks it should socially engineer Fairfax County to eliminate the “root causes of poverty.”  (p. 10).  This has so many problems it is difficult to catalog them all.  First, the board confuses correlation and causation by claiming that poverty “affect[s] student achievement.”  While student achievement and poverty may be highly correlated, no one can prove causation (i.e. maybe the same things that cause poverty cause poor academic achievement).  The board is lying if it pretends otherwise.  Second, I’d be willing to bet a large sum of money that a number of board members would get the vapors if someone suggested that, if the board were serious, it would invest in marriage promotion since marriage is “America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty.”  Third, the board compounds its error by explicitly embracing “efforts to reduce concentrations of poverty through strategic community planning in collaboration with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.”  In other words, the board wants to restrict who can build what where without any evidence that this will have any beneficial effects at all, and without any consideration for any negative consequences that may result.     

Beyond this laundry list of leftist activism, there are a number of technical matters addressed in the document, such as school funding formulas and evaluation criteria.  I’m not nearly well versed enough in these areas to form an opinion, but, given the misplaced priorities discussed above, my guess is that the board is getting those wrong as well.

Remember, the board is going to be spending your taxpayer dollars chasing these ridiculous initiatives that either don’t help or affirmatively harm our schools.  If you plan on going to the school board meeting on Thursday, December 1, make your voice heard and tell the board that it needs to keep its eye on the ball, and focus its legislative program on issues that actually positively impact our school system and its students.

*  I’m also told by all the right people that gender is a social construct and can be fluid, so what protection exactly would this amendment provide?  How can I discriminate against someone on the basis of something that they can change?

**  The McLean protesters were particularly dense.  First, Nova Firearms was only moving a few hundred yards from its old location.  Apparently those few hundred yards are a key factor in determining how safe a school is.  Second, they failed to realize that, as one of two gun stores inside the beltway, many of the good guys (i.e. cops, Army rangers, etc.) would go there for both personal and professional reasons.  I have it on good authority that a number of CIA operatives frequent the store because it is so close to Langley.  I’d rather those guys be close at hand if something bad happens at a school.  Third, and perhaps my favorite:  one of the protesters held a sign that said “Remember Ft. Hood” (left-hand side of the picture in the linked article).  One of the reasons the body count at Ft. Hood was so high was because it was a “gun free zone” and it took a while for a good guy with a gun to show up.