On the outskirts of Washington, D.C., Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) are promoting materials that judge groups of people based on skin color and encourage fringe political dogma. Meanwhile, Superintendent Gregory Hutchings Jr. is telling parents that the months of closed schools their children suffered were not only caused by COVID-19 but also by “systemic racism.”
Parents and school board candidates expressed their concerns to The Federalist, but requests for comment from current school board members were almost universally ignored.
Disparaging People Based on Color
One page on the school website, “Talking to Your Children About Racial Justice,” encourages parents to “let go of colorblindness” and “ensure your kids are aware of race.” Among other things, it promotes a Forbes article that suggests understanding “our country’s deeply rooted racism” with resources such as:
- a Medium article encouraging readers to donate to their local Black Lives Matter chapter, ask their representatives to decriminalize marijuana, ask their representatives to ban voter ID laws, join their local “white space,” and ask their high school to teach a mandatory class on white privilege,
- an article titled “White People Have No Culture,”
- an article titled “Food Has Always Been Political,”
- “Black Marxism: The Making of Black Radical Tradition” by Cedric Robinson,
- “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” a documentary about the militant Black Panthers group,
- and the American Civil Liberties Union website.
Another ACPS page, simply titled “Teaching Racial Justice,” promotes “How To Be An Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi, in which Kendi argues, “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.” The page also declares, “Racism against the Asian-American community is deeply ingrained in the fabric of our country.” Other resources it promotes include “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, “White Rage” by Carol Anderson, “White Teachers Need Anti-Racist Therapy” by Bettina Love, and “Why Teaching Grit Is Inherently Anti-Black” by Bettina Love.
Parents: Teach Our Kids About Civil Rights, Not How to Overthrow the System
Liz Fuller, an ACPS mother, finds the school system’s “equity” resources problematic and completely unhelpful. “There is an insidious agenda of political indoctrination under the guise of ‘equity’ that takes full advantage of our citizens’ very genuine desire to see people of all races be treated equally,” she told The Federalist. “Political indoctrination of any ideology should never be a part of public education.”
“There’s a difference between what I see as political indoctrination on race, and the necessary and important educational instruction of the history of race relations in the country, civil rights, slavery, etc.,” she added.
“Systemic racism” and “equity,” Fuller noted, have become catchall phrases that aren’t backed by facts. “Everything is ‘equity’: hashtag, buzzword, catchall, equity. But if you say you’re against it, who wants to say they’re against equity?”
“The problem with ‘systemic racism’ in ACPS is that it is so often used as rhetoric, yet nobody ever points to actual data or specific examples. In fact, everything about ACPS points to the contrary,” Fuller said. “It’s almost like ‘systemic racism’ is being used as a shield to protect the failure of leadership to the point that nobody can challenge their decisions for fear of being labeled a racist. It has a definite chilling effect, but people see right through it.”
Fuller recalled deciding she had had enough of ACPS’s agenda when, watching a school board meeting, she observed members of the board and the superintendent wearing “We’re on an antiracist journey” T-shirts. “Who is ‘we’? Do I need ACPS to teach me and my kids not to be racist? Or is that my job and the job of my faith community?” she asked. “Even better, why don’t we just teach our students to love all people?”
Fuller and another concerned ACPS parent, Elizabeth Seltzer, started a Facebook group called “Agenda Free ACPS” for others who share their concerns.
“The agendas being advanced within ACPS as to race matters are not with education in mind but are politically motivated,” Seltzer said. “Words frequently used are ‘equity,’ ‘anti-racism,’ and ‘systemic racism.’ These are all tied to Marxist theories being advanced by proponents such as Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo.”
“The core of such agendas is to advance, not curb, race divisions with the ultimate goal of ‘dismantling’ the current systems, including the educational system,” Seltzer added. “Why? Because current proponents of Marxism know an economic revolution is not possible, so the aim is to create a race-based war.”
Seltzer emphasizes that “all schools within the U.S. should most definitely teach about the various race-related struggles and accomplishments that have occurred within our own country and other countries,” but “ACPS is not advancing such a positive race-related educational path.”
Concerns from School Board Candidates
Debbie Ash, a candidate for ACPS District B, strongly criticized the school district’s approach to teaching about race. “Alexandria school leadership is making color an issue; it doesn’t have to be,” she told The Federalist, pledging to “stand for a color-blind education” for Alexandria students. “The classroom should be free from focus on skin color and equity.”
Ricardo Roberts is also running in District B, and calls many of the content being pushed by ACPS “anti-white rhetoric.”
“Why are we teaching racist theories to our kids?” he asked. “Why are we teaching them to hate white teachers? And I’m black.”
While Roberts says “our community was built upon the backs of the enslaved people” and believes ACPS’s assertion that anti-Asian racism is “deeply ingrained in the fabric” of America, he expressed a wish to focus on the positive contributions of minorities. “Why not spin it and say, Asian Americans did this for our country, instead of taking the negative approach?”
Roberts particularly noted disagreement with ACPS’s promotion of the article, “White Teachers Need Anti-Racist Therapy.”
“My wife is white and she teaches at Yorktown High School,” he said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with race, with your skin color, it has to do with you really, really care.”
Crickets from the School Board
School board members Michelle Rief, Christopher Suarez, Cindy Anderson, Margaret Lorber, Ramee Gentry, Heather Thornton, Vice-Chair Veronica Nolan, and Chair Meagan Alderton did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment. Jacinta Greene’s office acknowledged our request for comment but never followed up by the deadline.
Candidates Christopher Harris, Abdel-Rahman Elnoubi, Kelly Carmichael Booz, Bridget Shea Westfall, PreeAnn Johnson, Tammy Ignacio, Ashley Simpson Baird, D. Ohlandt, and William Bailey did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment. Aloysius Boyle acknowledged our request for comment and said there were “tons of problems here” and that “these conversations need to happen” but was unable to provide further comment by publication time.