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May 24, 2021 · OPINION

Citizens must have more information about schools

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By John Green

What is the job of the Fauquier County School Board?

Before discussing the school Board’s duties we must understand the importance of their job and the importance of public education. Here is what Vladimir Lenin had to say: “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be up rooted.” And Josef Stalin said, “Education is a weapon, whose effects depend on who holds it in his hand and at who it is aimed.” Adolf Hitler: “Let me control the textbooks and I will control the state.”

Yes, education can be used for the good or bad.

Fauquier’s school board has five members, one from each county district. Each board member is elected by the voters in their district. This makes the school board responsible to the voters.

The school board is responsible for hiring or firing the school superintendent. They oversee the school budget and its presentation to the board of supervisors. The school budget makes up approximately 60 percent of the county budget every year.

The school board approves all school programs

The school board holds monthly public meeting to conduct school business. At the end of each meeting the public is invited to make comments. A speaker is allowed three minutes to speak. No comments or questions are allowed between citizens and the board. There is no dialogue between citizens and board. On the voting issues the board always appears to vote together, 5-0.

The missing ingredient is keeping the public informed on the issues. We don’t really know what’s going on because the school board members are not proactive in explaining the issues. Some of that fault lies with us. We are not asking. As citizens we have the responsibility of keeping ourselves informed.
Here is just one example: In 2019 FCPS adopted a program called Deep Equity Process. It was approved by the school board.

What did we know about it? On May 9, 2019, the school administration came out with a press release. School spokesperson Nikki Jenkins explained Deep Equity will allow schools to reduce and eliminate achievement gaps, disparities in graduation rates, disproportions in graduation rates, disproportional suspensions, expulsions and disciplinary referral rates.

Wow, this sound like the holy grail of education. Ms. Jenkins went on to say the deep equity approach is based on beliefs that such inequities are symptomatic of institutional biases. Yep, it’s our fault.

I pestered the school board for more information on Deep Equity Process. I was finally granted one hour in an empty office at the school board’s office spaces. I was given a 2-inch-thick document on Deep Equity Process to read. One hour later the document was taken back. I then had the opportunity to talk with Fauquier County Schools Associate Superintendent for Instruction Major Warner. We had a cordial discussion for one hour but ended by agreeing we disagree.

What stayed with me to this day in the Deep Equity document was the introduction: It stated 90 percent of all teachers are white and white folks can’t possibly understand the problems of minorities. We will not be successful if this is the basis of our problems.

We will not be able to climb out of this mess unless our elected officials, in this case the school board, keep parents and citizens aware of the issues. We must demand that they do. If they don’t ,they must be removed from office. That’s the way the system is supposed to work.

What do you know about critical race theory, transgender policy, social emotional learning or 1619? They are all in our schools. How are our students doing compared with other developed nations? Are standards being lowered so student performance looks better? It’s our future.
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