By Mary Tanzer
“From the lips of little children … you have established strength because of your foes, to put a stop to the enemy.” – Psalm 8:2
And who is that enemy? Many of the current policies recently implemented by the Fairfax County School Board. That is why Priscilla DeStefano, a young first-generation mother of two, is running for School Board Member-at-Large. She explained to Mason District Republicans why she is taking on this challenge.
After hearing Priscilla’s remarks, young Republican Emmett Aiken, 11, attending the breakfast with his dad, Gary Aiken, candidate for Mason District Supervisor, had this to say: “This woman, right here, has said the most beautiful things about the school board. She is amazing. I liked her ideas. And if I was 18, I would definitely vote for her.”
Asked what ideas he liked, Emmett replied, “All of them. The teachers are not teaching us great things. She wants to make it a better place where teachers teach us better things, like chemistry.”
And so: God ordains strength out of the mouth of babes.
What are Priscilla’s ideas? Parents are being cut off from their children’s education, she said. They are not being informed about what is being taught in the classroom. “When I started to look into it, I saw that so many of the policies that have been implemented lately, I would never choose for my son,” Priscilla said. “People need to have a voice in their children’s education.”
Fairfax County Public Schools need to raise their standards. “Teachers no longer give a grade of ‘zero’ even for students who do not perform,” Priscilla noted. “Everyone gets at least a grade of ‘50%’ — where is the motivation to do better and succeed? It might have been well-intended, but it is a failed policy.”
Priscilla’s overriding focus is EDUCATION FIRST — not partisan politics, and not personal agendas. She will ask what is going to create high performance for our kids — and that’s for all kids; not all kids are the same. We don’t need “blanket equity,” a buzzword that sounds good. We need “equal opportunity.” Putting everyone into a bucket where they might not belong is not helpful — some children have special needs. We must think about what is necessary for every child to succeed.
Priscilla’s next priorities are PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT, TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY. Priscilla recognizes that many parents are very busy and she supports more creative and innovative solutions to get parents involved.
Technology has removed parents from their student’s curriculum. Parents cannot help their children with their homework, because (1) there are no books and no homework is given; and (2) everything is being taught via computer. Parents have to be taught how to use the computer program in order to know how to help their children. In addition, some life skills are not being taught.
“My son cannot read my signature, because cursive is no longer being taught,” Priscilla lamented. “Phonics is not being taught.”
Children are being taught to read by sight, rather than learning how to sound out a word.
Finally, Priscilla is committed to SUCCESS FOR EVERY STUDENT — how to best prepare kids for their role in the world. That might be going to a 4-year college, learning a trade, or joining the military. Kids should be shown there are many paths to success; it’s not going to look the same for everyone.