On Jan. 30, several students attending West Springfield High School (WSHS) in Fairfax County, Virginia, told their parents about a disturbingly racist video they were forced to watch at school. These students, coming from all racial backgrounds, took issue with the fact that the video displayed white people, illustrated as cartoon mosquitos, taking bites out of people of color with their “microaggressions.” In the end, the video concludes that white people don’t understand microaggressions because they do not often experience them.
Similarly, in December 2022, during an eighth-grade civics class at Irving Middle School, a feeder to WSHS, a substitute teacher randomly announced to the students that black people had to go through things that white people didn’t — and that “white folks just didn’t understand.” When I notified the school’s principal about the incident, she said she would “look into it” and then never followed up with me.
Across the county, students of all ages repeatedly are receiving a troubling message: White people are clueless and/or perpetrators, and people of color are victims. A Fairfax County fourth-grade teacher, whose classroom is marked as a “safe space” and decorated with a transgender flag, spent an excessive amount of her instructional time regarding our nation’s founding focused on the races of people in the pictures. Another elementary school teacher, on the other side of Fairfax County, went as far as having students role-play slaves and landowners to demonstrate the “economics of slavery.”
Institutionalizing Inequality in Public Schools
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Michelle Reid and current school board members are working diligently to direct funds from the district’s $3.4 billion budget to integrate these messages into curriculum and institutions. They proudly claim that their foundational goal is “equity,” which includes “closing student achievement gaps … expanding perspectives [and] creating the space for courageous conversation.”
FCPS hires speakers such as Ibram X. Kendi, paying him $20,000 for a one-hour Zoom call, to pontificate on his dangerous “anti-racist” argument, that the remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. FCPS further employs “equity specialists” as administrators in each of its five regions.
There also are designated staff, paid an additional $700 annual stipend, to act as an “equity lead” in each school. The designated “equity lead” enlists the help of student equity foot soldiers, called Student Equity Ambassador Leaders (SEALS), to “inform and support collaborative learning teams” in the schools. Within the district’s equity web, lessons like the one on microaggressions are spun. Rogue actors, like the substitute teacher, further seem to have institutional support when they make statements perpetuating the white-equals-oppressor narrative.
Virginians were aware of these problems in public education and carried their grievances to the state’s gubernatorial election in November 2021. Then-Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe made the fatal mistake of claiming, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Voters disagreed. Republican Glenn Youngkin, emphasizing the importance of parental rights, won in an upset. Gov. Youngkin’s first order of business on day one was to implement Executive Order 1, a ban against teaching divisive concepts, including critical race theory, in K-12 public schools.
The Trojan Horse of ‘Social Emotional Learning’
FCPS and other maneuvering school districts in Virginia work around Youngkin’s executive order with the Trojan horse of “Social Emotional Learning” (SEL). The name sounds innocuous. Few would object to actual social and emotional health education, especially considering children’s mental health crisis, largely caused by pandemic policies such as prolonged school closures.
But SEL curricula have a duplicitous goal. Lisa Logan explains in a PragerU video that its real purpose is to “redistribute power to promote social justice through student engagement in school and civic life.” In other words, SEL is the primary weapon leftists use to politically indoctrinate our children.
Upon request following the microaggressions lesson, the WSHS student services director forwarded parents the 2022-2023 study hall schedule, which is where the students’ SEL and “equity” lessons occur. There are 12 scheduled SEL lessons, and six of them are explicitly on “equity,” a word that embodies anything but equality.
Although there is supposed to be an opt-out process for these lessons, there is currently confusion between WSHS parents and administrators. It is unclear if there is even a systematic opt-out procedure in place. In my experience, FCPS buries opt-out information in an email and requires a multi-step process in which parents have to print forms that students must submit to counselors. The objective in erecting opt-out hurdles is clear: Maximum student participation in the SEL indoctrination surveys and lessons.
To that end, in September 2021, with its Covid relief funds, FCPS signed a $2.4 million five-year contract with Panorama Education. The for-profit data-mining company holds contracts with public school districts home to an estimated 25 percent of America’s students. Its invasive surveys pose questions far outside the bounds of academic or emotional relevance, including: “How often do you think about what someone of a different race, ethnicity, or culture experiences?”
With multiple questions like this one, Panorama prides itself in the ability to “help you see the whole child.” The purpose of the FCPS contract with Panorama is “to screen ‘all’ Fairfax children and conduct psychometric evaluations and create psychological profiles.” Perhaps psychological profiling aids Fairfax County school board members and Superintendent Reid to indoctrinate our children more effectively and efficiently.
Equity Is the Priority Over Academics and Safety
With all of the dysfunction in FCPS, it is negligent and arguably criminal that the school board invests so many of its resources into psychologically profiling students and equity programs.
In the past year, during school hours, the district experienced a sexual assault in a bathroom, a suspected drug overdose, a stabbing, a teacher arrested for possession of child pornography, and the arrest of a middle school counselor, who was already a registered sex offender. Meanwhile, students suffer plummeting post-pandemic test scores, and decreased learning and grading standards, for the expressed sake of equal outcomes. There are clearly other areas, such as academics and safety, on which FCPS school board members should focus.
The Need for Competition
Divisive concepts should not be a priority or taught at all. Parents do not send their children to school to learn under the guise of equity that they or their friends are bloodsucking mosquitos because of their race. Like many families across the country, Fairfax families are trapped in the public school prison. Sadly, we can complain to the chef about the bad food, but he simply winks at us, mentions his is the only restaurant around, and tells us he’ll see us tomorrow. We need options and the public education system monopoly clearly needs more competition.
It’s time to do some soul-searching about the purpose of public education. We need to discuss what we as parents want for our children, and what we as taxpayers collectively are willing to fund.
In January, a school board member in Iowa claimed on Facebook, “The purpose of a public ed is to not teach kids what the parents want. It is to teach them what society needs them to know. The client is not the parent, but the community.” But the indoctrination of America’s children is a violation of parental rights, and systematically dumbing them down is counterproductive for the future of our nation. We need to strive for academic excellence in schools — sticking to the “three Rs” — and push all the politics out of the classrooms.