From the arrest of parents at school board meetings to the allegations of covering up rapes in student bathrooms, Virginia school boards have been making headlines in recent years. As a result, several political action committees have formed to fund and promote school board candidates they believe will best serve their agendas.
Last month, a “nonpartisan” Virginia-based group called We the People of Education emerged, claiming to prioritize good governance, financial stewardship, and positive student outcomes versus political agendas and divisiveness when supporting school board candidates. However, despite the group’s neutral-sounding platform, several of the group’s board members have a history of supporting leftist political agendas in Virginia’s public education system.
Anne Holton, the wife of Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, sits on the group’s board. We the People of Education takes its name from the preamble of the U.S. Constitution, which Holton publicly criticized during the Board of Education’s approval of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s new history standards.
“To an audience as inclusive as our Virginia is, you cannot reference the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as ‘remarkable documents’ without also acknowledging that they [are] fundamental in enshrining slavery, and limiting the protections that they provided only to white property-owning men,” Holton said.
Another board member is former Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, who also commented on the revised history standards of learning (SOL). In an interview with Virginia-based Democratic political blogger and commentator Lowell Feld, Qarni argued that the backlash against teaching the left’s preferred version of history is due to “white fragility” and a desire to preserve “white privilege and entitlement.” Qarni had previously attacked Youngkin, accusing him of using racist rhetoric, and called Youngkin’s supporters “racists and bigots.”
Dr. James Fedderman, president of the statewide teachers union Virginia Education Association (VEA), is also on the We the People board. Fedderman most recently made headlines for sending a “Black Lives Matter at School toolkit” to all VEA members. Youngkin’s administration criticized the toolkit for its politically charged lesson plans on racial identity and the Black Lives Matter movement, and guiding principles that include the “disruption of the Western nuclear family dynamics” and “recognizing (transgender)-antagonistic violence.”
Finally, the president of We the People of Education, Sarah Gross, smeared concerned parents who spoke out at school board meetings.
“Over the last couple of years we have witnessed extremism and hateful rhetoric take over our school board meetings, sow disinformation in our communities, and work to divide us,” Gross said in a press release.
While the name and mission of the group may suggest a conservative agenda, a quick look at the individuals behind We the People for Education tells a different story. Furthermore, the group’s website offers no information regarding its board members, only fueling more speculation about its intentions.
The future of Virginia’s education system is in jeopardy, and it is the responsibility of the voters to ensure that the appropriate individuals are elected to manage it.