Image credit: Pixabay / harishs
By Matthew Neverusky
Solutions that could improve outcomes for students at Mount Vernon and other struggling Fairfax County public schools won’t be implemented this year under the guidance of the current school board. These schools will continue to face higher dropout rates (9.2%) and lower state tests scores for reading and math. 70% of students at these schools will continue to fall short of college readiness criteria. The problem is not the students, the parents, or the staff. The problem is a bloated, distracted school board that is blind to the actual needs of individual student populations.
Schools in Fairfax County act as the bedrock of thriving communities. Instead of assessing what changes could be made to help the actual student populations and strengthen communities, the Fairfax County School Board wants to pay for dead-end studies that call for socialism (disguised as “equity”) and explore the concept of redistricting. The first advocates for a failed political system that has wrecked countless economies and led to utter misery for millions of people worldwide. The second is a scattered, desperate attempt to hide deficits in school performance rather than address the needs of those falling behind.
We need a change in school board leadership. Republican candidates for the Fairfax County School Board have a realistic plan that will lead to concrete results. A major push by Republicans will be to target and uplift schools with underperforming test scores and academic proficiencies, rather than disperse the student population. These schools will receive the support they need to increase academic rigor, improve outcomes for students interested in STEM education, and receive additional staff to reduce overcrowding in classes. While Democrats want to shuffle students around the county, Republicans hope to maintain and strengthen communities by improving the daily lives of students and families in neighborhood schools. For students interested in pursuing college and university education, Republican school board members will divert money away from wasteful studies and grand schemes; and instead fund effective academic programs that give teachers the tools they need to improve academic skills and incentivize student learning.
For students interested in direct employment after graduation, Republican school board members will strengthen the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. For Mount Vernon and others schools facing similar challenges, a strengthened CTE will provide solid training programs for students not meeting college readiness criteria and it will give students, weighing the option of dropping out, a chance to stay and earn a tangible education that will lead to high-paying jobs directly after graduation. A Republican-led school board will make sure that students have options that can carry them forward in the world of work. They will do this by updating coursework, creating new programs that match economic trends, and improving skills-based learning that will create graduates ready to work on “day one” following graduation. Republicans will increase availability of these programs to ensure that any student interested has a pathway toward skills-based, trade-focused education. Additionally, a Republican school board will routinely monitor and review graduation data, career outcomes, and career trends to ensure these programs follow through on what they promise and adapt to actual opportunities as the economy changes.
Matthew Neverusky is a licensed professional counselor with a master’s degree in education.