After Betsy DeVos has repeatedly attacked Fairfax County Public Schools recently, Laura Ingraham of Fox News took to the airwaves yesterday to spew all sorts of nonsense about the school system. Among other things, she claimed “Black Lives Matters zealots have an oversized influence” and “they’re trying to turn your kids into hardcore activists.” The remarks came because she was furious that the county’s considering hiring a Chief Equity Officer.
This kind of nonsense is nothing new, however, as it’s the same hate filled rhetoric that we saw on the campaign trail during last year’s state and local elections here in Virginia. The Republican Party has become so extreme that they lost every single school board race in Fairfax last year and there’s only two Republicans who represent any precincts in the county.
These miserable results was largely a result of their candidates doing things like saying the school system was wrong to even consider the names of schools that glorified confederate soldiers, claiming LGBT students were the “loudest special interest group” and we should “stop wasting our time” on equality, suggesting people of color couldn’t possibly face discrimination because there were plenty of ethnic restaurants in Fairfax, insisting that immigrants are bringing diseases into the schools, and actually skipping events at schools in their district in order to host events with senior staffers from SPLC designated hate groups.
With all that in mind, here’s the video of Laura Ingraham speaking about how horrible she thinks it is that the school system is actively trying to create a welcoming environment and ensure that every student has the opportunity to thrive.
With Democrats gaining control of both chambers of the General Assembly after last year’s elections, one of the be issues being considered this session is workers’ rights. A higher minimum wage looks to be well on its way to being signed into law, for instance, and several other measures are being discussed.
What’s unfortunately faced some difficulties down in Richmond is support for allowing public employees to have their voices heard in discussions in their workplace through collective bargaining.
In hopes of making it clear that Fairfax County supports workers, the Fairfax County School Board voted to express support for legislation allowing public employees to participate in collective bargaining. This will be added to the legislative agenda the board presents to the General Assembly every year.
In the past, previous school boards have actually specifically included opposition to collective bargaining in the agenda. Realizing this is the wrong position to take, Karl Frisch made motions to remove the board’s opposition and express support for public employees having the right to collectively bargain.
The motion ended up passing unanimously and, after hearing from several speakers during citizens participation time, it was clear the board was proud to support the measure as members went into details about why they’re supportive of the teachers and other public employees being able to have their voices heard.
The following video is just a glimpse of what they had to say.
Elizabeth Warren promised earlier today that she would have a public school teacher become Secretary of Education if she’s elected president. Folks who closely follow education policy likely realize this is not only a good policy idea, but also a jab at Betsy DeVos, the woman who currently holds the position.
Before she was sworn into office, DeVos had made it her life’s mission to combat public education because she believed it was a “dead end.” She was known as being advocate for school vouchers, which would steer public money away from public schools and into private facilities, and declared that her education reform efforts were part of her efforts to “advance God’s kingdom.” While these might not be sinister causes, they very clearly show she has no interest in strengthening our public schools — something the Department of Education should be focused on.
As a member of the Senate HELP Committee who got to question DeVos during her confirmation process, Sen. Warren was one of the more vocal opponents of the Secretary’s nomination. Her concerns have proven to be justified as DeVos has had an extremely controversial tenure at the Department of Education. The Secretary tried to roll back protections for minority students, killed programs that help students from low income families, and has refused to even consider any meaningful reforms to help prevent gun violence in our schools.
On the other hand, it’s worth noting that before becoming involved in politics, Warren herself was actually a teacher and a fierce advocate for making a better education more accessible to everyone. She briefly taught special education before becoming a highly respected law professor who had a reputation of being highly engaging with her students and doing everything she could to help them succeed. In other words, this is a concept she truly believes in and isn’t just something she’s promising because she had a speech before the American Federation of Teachers.
While DeVos might be the polar opposite of a public school teacher, appointing one to such a powerful position isn’t a completely foreign concept. In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam appointed Atif Qarni, a former middle school civics teacher from Prince William County, to be his Secretary of Education. Qarni has been extremely well received in Virginia by the education community as he brought direct knowledge of the struggles both teachers and students face while in the classroom. This knowledge is part of what’s allowed him to be successful in his efforts to fight for teachers and public schools even as other statewide officials in Virginia have been caught up in scandals.
This concept also ties into the larger message Sen. Warren has focused on throughout her political career and the 2020 presidential campaign; that the public deserves a government that’s serving the best interests of everyone, not just millionaires and billionaires who can already afford expensive private schools for their children. This is just the latest example of how Warren would go about making sure that happens if she’s elected.