The superintendent at a major school district in Virginia is eyeing critical race theory training, Parents Defending Education highlighted in an incident report. The district has also contracted for four years with an influential New York consulting group that could get millions of dollars to push the racist ideology on a district where parents have been strongly objecting for years.
Scott Brabrand, superintendent for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, Va., which operates with a $3 billion budget and oversees 222 institutions, sent a survey to parents that said “FCPS will begin by revising the existing Controversial Issues Policy and developing a new Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Education Curriculum Policy.”
The repeal of the “Controversial Issues Policy” would create a breeding ground for unequal treatment in the district, vice president of Parents Defending Education Asra Q. Nomani told The Federalist. That policy is one of the few that has so far protected students from even worse racially charged teachings, she said.
“The way the controversial policy works is that if you teach anything that is ‘controversial,’ you have to have fair presentation of material,” Nomani said. “That is the only defense we’ve had against this indoctrination. It’s just sick. It’s a multi-year re-education program from top to bottom in Fairfax County Public Schools. The fact that they have to revise their policy about controversial issues is such a red flag that they’re doing something wrong.”
The survey was crafted by NYC Leadership Academy, a group in New York that trains educators through the “Aspiring Principals Program” on “dismantling systemic inequities in schools.” Vendor payments obtained by Parents Defending Education show two payments from the chief equity officer to NYC Leadership Academy amounting to $48,500. It is unclear whether this sum comprises all the trainings or a few. The cost of the survey has not been revealed and the consulting group did not respond to a request for comment.
The consulting group also received from Fairfax schools an undisclosed total sum for a 21-step critical race theory program for four years starting this academic year. In the notice of the award pricing schedule sent on March 11, Fairfax highlights a number of services it has purchased. This includes funding for “Building School and Family Coalitions,” “Defining Culturally Responsive Curriculum,” “Equity Simulations,” “Coaching for Equitable Practice,” and more.
The survey sent out to parents contained 35 items. Below are some of the statements provided. Parents were asked to say whether they strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed, or strongly disagreed with each. The items are slanted toward the far-left viewpoint on race and identity.
- FCPS staff are equipped to teach about identity-based bias.
- My multiple identities (racial, ethnic, gender, religious, etc.) are valued and affirmed within FCPS.
- Teaching methods (or teaching practices) address racism as often as they should.
- The teaching methods (or teaching practices) used in FCPS should offer students ways to take action against racial and social injustice.
- The FCPS curriculum should give students opportunities to recognize injustices that systems create (e.g., discrimination and oppression).
Upon sending the survey, Brabrand directly undermined the idea of having open dialogue in the district about critical race theory training. He said, “One key strategy to achieve educational equity is to analyze and address the beliefs and policies that inform teaching practices along with what is taught in schools. FCPS will begin by revising the existing Controversial Issues Policy and developing a new Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Education Curriculum Policy.”
This new curriculum will take shape through the 24-page contract with the NYC Leadership Academy. Philip S. Benowitz of the leadership academy is listed as a contractor.
Although it is unclear which services Fairfax schools has directly purchased or is considering, the consulting group charges the following for some of its services: a one-time license fee of $2,500 for “equity simulation training,” $41,200 for “sharpening your equity lens” training for 16 to 30 people, $19,000 for “creating a culturally responsive school system” for 16 to 30 participants, and much more.
It is highly unusual for a notice of award to be delivered without a public declaration of payments, according to former Fairfax County Public Schools board member and former U.S. Department of Education official Elizabeth Schultz. Schultz also said the district appears to have issued a contract that was longer than the longest legally allowable term for any superintendent in the commonwealth.
“It is telling that Fairfax County has managed to issue a contract to do things such as ‘create a culturally responsive school system,’ ‘learn to audit curriculum with a culturally responsive lens,’ and ‘strengthening reflective practice and sustaining leadership growth,’ with ‘explicit emphasis on racial equity in coaching conversations,’ all in a procurement vehicle which has no cost ceiling, and with a contract term from March 11, 2021 through July 31, 2025, a term which exceeds the maximum four-year contract allowed by law for any superintendent in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Schultz told The Federalist.
Below is the full award obtained by The Federalist, active through July 31, 2025.
The New York-based consulting group contracting with Fairfax County Public Schools works with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a nonprofit group co-founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It also does work with American Express and The Wallace Foundation, an influential Manhattan group with the mission to “foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people, and in the arts for everyone.”
Nomani attended a Fairfax meeting Thursday and blasted school board members for “empty proclamations” and ignoring parental concerns over critical race theory.
I spoke from my heart to the @fcpsnews school board. Watch board chair Ricardy Anderson rage at me. Didn’t she get the memo that watching the clock is “white supremacy”? She reveals the board’s true anti-Asian animus. @ricardy4Mason, YOUR time has expired. #recallFCPS pic.twitter.com/YSbrVWtO8N
— Asra Q. Nomani (@AsraNomani) May 7, 2021
“Given the time period since the School Board took office last year, the priorities of the Board Members and Superintendent are clear, and it isn’t the well-being of students and their academic needs: nothing in the recently-awarded NYC Leadership Academy contract discusses student academic achievement, addressing students who have fallen behind during the protracted closure of schools, nor does it mention an effort to return students to classrooms for in-person learning,” Schultz said.
“Yet Fairfax has tirelessly pursued proposals for ‘racial equity training’ for all employees and embedding an ‘anti-racism curriculum.’ This is a School Board deeply out-of-step with the needs of parents and students,” she added.
A spokeswoman for Fairfax County Public Schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This article has been corrected since publication.