Throughout this election cycle, conservatives running for the Fairfax County School Board have been aggressively running a misinformation campaign in a desperate attempt to smear their opponents and scare voters into supporting the GOP. Considering Elizabeth Schultz has no issues flaming divisions, takes pride in aggravating her fellow board members, and constantly demeans the school system’s staff, it shouldn’t be too surprising that she was also struggling with the truth during last night’s League of Women Voters forum.
Since there were at least two dozen people wearing red Moms Demand Action t-shirts in the audience, it was rather obvious the candidates would likely be asked about their views on keeping students safe from gun violence. During her opening statement, Laura Jane Cohen addressed the issue by talking about her efforts to get doors that lock for classrooms in elementary schools — a measure that would make it at least a little harder for a shooter to come into a classroom. She also highlighted how while she would bring in more counselors and provide mental health training to staff so they could potentially help students who would consider bringing a gun to school, Schultz’s solution would be to allow teachers to bring guns into the classroom.
Perhaps realizing that her support for arming teachers wasn’t well received, Schultz was quick to claim Laura Jane was lying. The problem is there’s a record of her statement as she was quoted in the Washington Post saying “if a teacher wanted to bring a gun to school and had a carry-permit, they should bring it.” As Laura Jane pointed out in a tweet after the forum showing a screenshot of the article, this was proof she “was literally quoting” her opponent.
This wasn’t the only time Laura Jane was able to call Schultz out for struggling with telling the truth. In a move that reminded a lot of folks of the way she degrades her fellow board members and the school system’s staff, Schultz berated Laura Jane for saying Fairfax County had the 10th largest bus system in the country. In a clear attempt to appear like the superior candidate, she tried to make Laura Jane look like an idiot by claiming Fairfax actually had the largest bus fleet in the country and was apparently flabbergasted by someone not knowing that.
As Laura Jane pointed out later in the evening, however, it turns out both of them were wrong as Fairfax actually has the eighth largest fleet. Showing she can have a good sense of humor about things despite the anger her opponent showed throughout the debate, Laura Jane added the lighthearted question of “Hmm, who was closer according to School Bus Fleet Magazine?”
Schultz then proceeded to use her closing statement to push the misinformation campaign that her and her fellow conservatives have been spreading about the current discussion surrounding school boundaries. As part of her efforts to claim the rest of the school board is hindering her ability to get anything done by promoting a partisan agenda, she claimed the left wing conspiracy involved drastically changing school boundaries and busing students all over the county. “That is the shame of busing students to distant schools that is being contemplated by the One Fairfax policy,” Schultz declared even though it’s far from the truth of what’s happening.
In reality, the discussion the school board’s actually having surrounding boundaries is focused in on McLean and Langley High School. McLean is highly overcrowded right now while Langley has several hundred seats available and could actually lose staff allocations if it doesn’t receive more students. There’s therefore talk about adjusting the boundaries to have some McLean students attend Langley instead. Many of the communities that would change schools already have relationships with the neighborhoods in the new school district through swim teams and other similar programs. As the discussion has progressed, the school board and staff members have also said there should be efforts to make sure boundary discussions have a clear process that’s transparent to the general public.
In other words, there’s no talk of “busing students to distant schools” and this is a misinformation campaign designed to inflame tensions and channel the rhetoric used by folks who opposed school integration during the civil rights movement. But since not too many people attend school board meetings and closely follow what’s being discussed, conservatives are hoping nobody will notice the lies and their scare tactics will win them some votes.
The blatant lies and misinformation campaign that Elizabeth Schultz is engaged in raises some serious questions about her ability to properly represent the Springfield District on the School Board. If she isn’t able make it through a relatively short forum without lying and blaming her inability to get things done on everybody but herself, how can the district’s residents trust her to actually represent their values on the board?