Laura Jane Cohen: “I’m used to talking over nonsense”

IMG_1637During last night’s Springfield District Council forum for candidates hoping to represent Springfield on the Fairfax County School Board, Laura Jane Cohen highlighted how Elizabeth Schultz has a horrible attendance record when it comes to school board meetings, but has somehow found the time to appear on white nationalist Sebastian Gorka’s radio show and host events with staff members of designated hate groups.

“Mrs. Schultz spends a lot of time talking about family values,” Cohen said. “In fact, she likes to talk about family values on white nationalist Sebastion Gorka’s radio show. She likes to talk about it with a recognized hate group — the Family Research Council, even as recently as two days ago.”

When Laura Jane mentioned this, her opponent’s supporters apparently thought it was rather hilarious and started laughing. As you can see in the video below, however, Elizabeth Schultz quickly gave the signal that it was time for them to stop laughing. Schultz also visibly reacted to comments about her record, like when she skipped the vote on the annual budget and has recommended that we arm teachers in order to keep schools safe.

It should be noted that in addition to highlighting how Schultz was over two hours late to a school board meeting on Monday, I have pointed out that she’s skipped events at schools in her district in order to host events with designated hate groups and also missed an entire presentation from experts, administrators, teachers, students, and parents at another school board meeting on October 14th.

While never disputing any of the material presented, Shultz took the time to single me out in a message to supporters on Facebook and declared me the “designated attack dog” and “glorified hall monitor” who’s a “petty, sniping, mean girl, bully.” In other words, she really doesn’t like it when people document her record.

So perhaps knowing the overreaction that Schultz and her supporters tend to have, Laura Jane simply kept going on and highlighted how Springfield district residents don’t support “the dangerous, hate filled, fear mongering values of our current school board member.”

During her closing statement, Laura Jane once again highlighted how we need school board members who are willing to sit down and make difficult decisions that will truly benefit students. She stressed that it shouldn’t be about politics — especially the type of politics that’s supported by hate groups and white nationalists.

“Being a school board member is about finding solutions and in eight years, Mrs. Schultz has failed,” Laura Jane said. “School board members must make decisions because they are the right decisions to make for our kids, not because they are politically expedient and not because they get you an invitation to speak at hate groups or garner you appearances on white nationalists radio shows.”

This really set Schultz’s supporters off as they now started shouting out and trying to talk over Laura Jane. In what was perhaps the best way to respond, however, Laura Jane simply said “I was a preschool teacher, I’m used to speaking over nonsense.” She then immediately went on with the rest of her statement.

This whole interaction might not seem like that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but it highlights how Elizabeth Schultz has been running her campaign. Even though it was her supporters trying to shout down Laura Jane when she highlighted basic facts (the appearances with hate groups and white nationalists have been documented), she likes to claim she’s the one being “bullied mercilessly.”

Of course, you also can’t ignore that Shultz was caught blatantly lying at the forum hosted by the League of Women Voters earlier this month in a desperate attempt to make Laura Jane look bad. When you combine this with how she frequently refuses to vote on important issues (like the school system’s budgetand often votes the wrong way when she can be bothered to vote, it’s become clear the Springfield district needs a new school board member.

Schultz and the Fairfax County Republican Party might be committed to spreading misinformation and portraying themselves as victims, but the facts and their own behavior prove they’re simply promoting a false narrative.

About Bryan J. Scrafford

Bryan Scrafford grew up in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC and stayed in the region for both college and his professional life. An avid baseball and hockey fan, Bryan's also involved with several advocacy organizations fighting for economic justice, LGBT rights, and other issues. You can follow him on twitter at @bscrafford and Instagram at @bjscrafford
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