Fairfax County Public Schools Leadership Displays Disdain for Parents — Again

This article, by Stephanie Lundquist-Arora, originally appeared here, at the Washington Examiner.com.

Last Thursday, as the first presidential debate was making national headlines, Fairfax County School Board members held a meeting during which they voted on controversial changes to family life education curriculum. The takeaway for the few of us able to attend or watch it virtually was that the district’s leadership hates parents — or, at the very least, is severely inconvenienced by us.

Darcy Healy, one of the speakers during public comment, delivered an impassioned statement that represents how many parents in Fairfax County are feeling. She said, “We are parents, and we want you to listen to us, but we feel that that’s just not happening. … The survey that was done in May and June [shows] 80% are against this co-ed situation. Let’s continue to debate this. Don’t do it over the summer. And don’t do the vote on the evening of the presidential debate. This is an important topic. Show us that you want it to be important.”

Healy is right. In surveys both this year and last year, parents and community members made it clear that they did not support co-ed sex education or gender ideology instruction in their children’s elementary classrooms. Several community members made this exact point during the last two school board meetings’ public comment periods on June 13 and June 27.

Instead of being inclusive and accepting community feedback, the Fairfax County School Board was hostile — most notably among them, the board’s vice chairwoman, Melanie Meren.

First, Meren spoke indignantly about the curriculum’s opt-out option. She said, “And, you know, what I want to convey is that we need to make decisions of curriculum for the benefit of, you know, as many children as possible. And this is why parents and families have the option to opt out if they don’t feel the content is appropriate for their children when it comes to family life education.”

But why include unwanted, political nonsense such as gender ideology in a public school district’s sex education curriculum and then place the burden of opting out on the parents? Here’s why: because district leadership knows that many parents are preoccupied with our many other obligations and will forget to complete the extra administrative task of opting out our children from curriculum lessons.

District leaders should not be experimenting with our children, but since they seem to insist on doing so, this curriculum should require parents to opt in rather than opt out.

Meren then delivered an angry rant about the illegitimacy of the community’s feedback mechanisms. She said, “I also do want to underscore that the comments that have been referred to as a survey, um, it actually was not a survey. There was a call for public comments. … There was also not a methodology to ensure that comments were unique contributors. So, of the 2,500 comments, it’s unknown how many were contributed more than once.”

The takeaway is that if the district’s leaders don’t like community feedback, they blame the comment forum. Last year, for example, Karl Frisch, the school board chairman, similarly dismissed the survey as feedback from “Reddit warriors.”

In contrast, Ilryong Moon, a school board member who does not appear to be completely disgusted and inconvenienced by the district’s parents, seemed to realize the absurdity of his colleagues’ comments right away. The at-large member responded that if there was a problem with the feedback mechanism for community input, it was the board’s responsibility to fix the process. Moon further said he valued community input and thanked the 2,539 survey respondents for their time.

Unfortunately, in spite of the negative feedback on the proposal, school board members, including Moon, voted to include gender ideology instruction in the seventh grade family life education curriculum. And they did not vote against gender ideology indoctrination for elementary school children. They instead postponed that decision — perhaps in the hopes that they can pass it when fewer parents are paying attention.

Or even worse, they will include such measures surreptitiously and without a vote. Acting on her “majority doesn’t always dictate” philosophy, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid has already used a back-door, anti-democratic, administrative method to introduce co-ed instruction for sex education in the district’s new pilot program in 14 elementary schools that she likely intends to expand. 

And so, to Healy I say, I feel your pain, and we will continue to debate this. But sadly, it seems that Reid, Frisch, Meren, and their tyrannical leftist activist minority have already decided what is best for our children. They seem to believe that we, the parents, are roadblocks obstructing their path, to be circumvented or run over.

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