"I am a concerned parent. I am not a plant. I am not an activist. And as anyone who knows me, I've always been identified as a Democrat," Virginia resident Harry Jackson said on an October 14 appearance on Fox News. Jackson has been outspoken at school board meetings in Northern Virginia's Fairfax County, which is a key battleground in Virginia's upcoming gubernatorial election.
Joe Manchin identifies a Democrat too, Mr. Jackson. But he's not a good one and neither are you.
Judd, Thank you for focusing on this issue today. As a Fairfax County parent and retired teacher, I’m witnessing some interesting irony going on. Fairfax School Board member Megan McLaughlin was elected with a couple others when they- as parents- rose up against the school board in 2009 for not listening to parent wishes. She and others were labeled rabble rousers for wanting to make grading standards less stringent (a 93% was a B+) and succeeded in changing the grading scale. She and a couple others who advocated for making sure parents had more say in policy decisions, were elected to the board soon after.
There’s now a new set of rabble rousers- this time much more nefarious in their intent. As part of the Koch brothers/GOP school board takeover plan, they wave signs at intersections and in mall parking lots: No Politics in Public Schools/ Recall the school board. They obviously do want politics in Fairfax County schools- their own.
Parents have always been very vocal here and those who wield influence and power are, unfortunately, the ones with the most perseverance and loudest voices.
Another Virginia SB race that might be of interest: In Falls Church city, Cato VP Ilya Shapiro is running for School Board. He has a kindergartner. Falls Church City is a tiny system -- it only has five schools (preK, 1-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12) -- but the Wall Street Journal found Shapiro's run "newsworthy" enough to publish a column he wrote about why he's running. He's raised $30k, dwarfing fellow candidates' funding, and hasn't disclosed who his donors are, although he's admitted that much of it has come from out of state. His wife works for the Independent Women's Forum. Shapiro also teaches for the Federalist Society. We just keep circling back to the same sources: Koch, the Federalist Society, Murdoch.
I wrote the book, "5 Levels of Gifted: School Issues & Educational Options." These crazy actions by these parent groups are hard for me to see and experience. I was also the expert witness for a group like this and accepted the role because I thought the school board and administration were correct in their goals but needed to approach how to "find" the gifted kids and give them excellent opportunities from Kindergarten on. Programs can't happen in a vacuum, and programs aren't the only solution. Which school your child ends up in matters, but it shouldn't, and there are ways to fix it. I'm writing a follow-up book now with the same kids as were in the 2005/2009 book. They're adults now. I found and interviewed 75% of the original group. I taught during the initial days of busing and full-on integration in Alexandria, VA (Bill Yost, the football coach, was on the same bowling team as I was). I went on to get credentialed as an administrator and turned to more behind-the-scenes pursuits to work directly with families of gifted kids. I tell you all this because there are very few people who have as many details about how it all works as I do and I'm working like mad (unfunded, of course, no dark money here) to get the information out there in understandable, head-scratchingly logical, terms. I had already included the situation in Fairfax County in one of my chapters before your post today. When I profile these now-gifted adults, I mention social capital and opportunity as "key" to how they turn out, what kinds of adults they turn into. Thanks for posting this, Judd. What is going on here is crazy but terribly understandable given all the misinformation out there that is not new. There is a ton of confusion about what ability and intelligence are. Very few people have studied this whole topic in the kinds of depth I have. I am not rich, but I could always afford to do the work I wanted to do. I've had my critics, and I've had my fans, as does anyone unless they're simply unwilling to take chances for fear of criticism. You have given me some great new fodder around which to build more conversations that may turn some people into being willing to work on the whole way we educate people in this country (and world; we aren't so different).
Please please please let's not turn local government into another partisan battleground, this is where Archie Bunker and Meathead can still have a beer together. America needs that! Rather let's organize a free resource for communities to defend themselves against these hidden agendas and outside influences. It's not just the schools, its our libraries and parks. We have been fighting this battle in Chicagoland for four years, literally where critical race theory was first mentioned. We have some strategies and we are happy to share and help other communities battling these hostile take overs.
Congrats. You got picked up by Raw Story. https://www.rawstory.com/concerned-parent-who-appeared-on-fox-news-is-actually-part-of-an-activist-group-who-wants-to-reclaim-schools-from-the-left/
Judd, now that you’ve reported thoroughly on Youngkin, please report thoroughly on McAuliffe’s stance and actions on this issue. Youngkin has a ton of money to spend on misinformation.
did everyone here see the article ahout youngkin/macauliffe race published in Sat. NYT? I misplaced that issue (in my car d’oh) for two days so haven’t read, but happy to note that nyt is also on this story, ugly, and “local”, as it is. Thank you Judd for filling in more details.
The fabric of society is being deliberately torn apart at the seams.
I don't see any way to defend against a virulent and vocal minority constantly screaming shocking falsehoods against well-meaning professionals and volunteers.
More dark money from the right and of course they pour it into ads that push fake news. This is the republican playbook and has been for decades. But the left will continue to play nice and say 'that's not fair' but won't actually do anything about dark money donations when they have the majority. Why is dark money still a thing? This needs to change immediately.
Republicons have shoved their way into school boards over the past 30-40 years. The lack of leftist news sources that are significant makes this difficult to beat. Using the word weaponizing is perfectly suitable for this frightening behavior. The problem is that we don’t have another 30 years to take these boards back over. We need to get the voices of leftist reporters like Judd, Reich, Thom Hartmann, Amy Goodman and tons of other great reporters on major news networks…without corporate sponsorship. We have multi-billionaires who could come together to fund this. It’s the most important thing we need to address.
If Virgina voters elect a Trump-wannabe in Glenn Youngkin, they will get the Governor they apparently want and deserve.