Across the media and political spheres, impeachment is the watchword of the month. What will the House do? How will President Donald Trump react? Will Republicans stand with Trump or with Democrats?
If you live in Virginia, Fairfax School Board Member Elizabeth Schultz wants you to forget all of that for a few minutes today. She wants you to vote local today – and to take the “vote local” message across the country.
Why vote local?
“We have seen an explosion across the nation of liberal advocacy taking front and center in education policy – changing school names, erasing murals, eliminating mascots, and rewriting curriculum,” said Schultz. “While we face a very real national teacher shortage, student achievement still lags and the country is not producing top STEM students to tackle some of our biggest challenges.”
According to Schultz, her school board and others are ignoring curriculum and student achievement for “resolutions on the latest social agenda.” Students are permitted to participate in walkouts and educators are doing end-runs around parents’ rights to know what their children are doing during school hours, she said. “All of these have become the new norm and have nothing to do with developing students to become productive citizens.”
Protest culture has left students “less capable of listening and learning from juxtaposed viewpoints while the toxicity continues to grow,” said Schultz. “Discussions on protecting the environment, whether biological men should compete in women’s sports, or what parental rights entail are often no longer even up for debate. Merely raising the subject initiates the politically woke wall of resistance, resulting in community or board members being labeled as ‘haters and bigots’ in an attempt to ensure conversations are stifled or to prevent them from occurring in the first place.”
“The bill has come due”
Schultz says conservatives have allowed liberals to take charge of education – and much more. “[School board] seats often become the farm team for others seeking higher office, so build a commitment to have a local school board reflect local education values, rather than being the experimental playground for educational theories, social agendas, and virtue signaling of national advocacy organizations,” Schultz urged. “Fight harder to take back your children than the left is willing to fight to keep them. Invest in teachers, quality curriculum, college-preparedness, and workforce readiness. Then we will get back to schools which produce educated, healthy, law-abiding, taxpaying, engaged citizens.”
For those who disengage from society – whether entirely via the Benedict Option or partially through homeschooling and other methods – Schultz noted that nobody is off the hook for paying for public schools. “Fairfax County Public Schools is the 10th-largest school system in the nation,” she said. Its three-billion-dollar budget will cost $16,043 per student in 2020, “88 percent of which is from local residents’ property taxes and state taxes.” Even worse, “Education Week’s Resource Center places the national average at $12,756 per student.”
The bill came due sooner in Fairfax than in most districts. In 2015, I was present when the school board pushed through a “transgender” policy which allows boys into girls’ locker rooms, restrooms, etc. Schultz was the only board member to vote “no.” At that meeting, she noted that it took 10 years for the board to research and consider the implications of changing bus schedules – but only weeks to succumb to the gender-identity movement.
“Hundreds of parents [were] in the room,” said Family Research Council Senior Fellow for Legal Studies Cathy Ruse. “You can see the board chair try to gavel them down and threaten to kick them out. You can see board member Ryan McElveen scolding parents and telling them they’re on the wrong side of history.”
“All across the country, pressure groups like GLSEN and HRC are getting transgender mandates into public schools by targeting their non-discrimination policies,” continued Ruse. “No one wants to see a child bullied or harassed, especially if he is suffering from gender confusion. But if you suggest strengthening anti-bullying laws, you’ll be shut down. It’s not about anti-bullying. It’s about power and politics.”
“Today, any male student [in Fairfax County] can demand access to girls’ showers, locker rooms, and sports teams – citing the non-discrimination policy,” concluded Ruse.
Three steps to take back your board
“We spend about $678 billion on elementary and secondary education by federal, state and local agencies,” said Schultz. “With the bulk of a local community’s investment going to education — in nearly 13,600 school districts by about 90,000 school board members — the greatest financial and voter control of education is at the local level.”
Schultz suggested three ways to become effectively involved. First, “attend a school board meeting” to learn who is on it, what they believe, and “how, and on what, they spend their time.” Second, “get appointed to a committee of your local school board,” even if you’re not a parent. “Everyone is invested in the outcome of students,” insists Schultz. “Do students with disabilities graduate with skills to allow them to become employed and live independently? Do at-risk students achieve academically? Are students graduating with industry certifications, life skills, and an academic foundation to be successful in college and the workforce?”
Third, and with all caps from Schultz, “VOTE.” She noted that “few people vote in local elections” and “even fewer in school board races.” She said that since people “treasure our children,” it is incumbent upon citizens “to take seriously those who have their hands on the steering wheel of policy, curriculum, and practices which shape our children, grandchildren, and the successive generation for their K-12 education.”
Ruse said FRC has developed a “universal model opt-out letter” for parents who don’t want their kids in social experimentation courses often bill as “sexual education.”
“It notifies the school that you do not give consent for your child to be exposed to these issues, in any class. It cites Supreme Court cases on the constitutional right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children. And it puts schools on notice that you intend to pursue every legal avenue available to you if your request is not honored.”