Elizabeth Schultz Blames Everyone Else for Her Lack of Community Engagement

IMG_1624Most of the candidates endorsed by the Fairfax County Republican Party for the school board this year have been ranting and raving about how Democrats have had a majority on the school board since it became an elected position back in the 1990’s. Priscilla DeStefano (one of the at-large candidates), for instance, went on a rant about it during a forum at Mantua Elementary School earlier this month and Elizabeth Schultz has frequently claimed the Democratic majority has “bullied” her and prevented any work from happening during her eight years on the board.

During forum hosted by the Springfield District Council on October 29th, Schultz continued using that messaging. After arguing that politics has no place on the school board, the ultra conservative school board member went on to claim Democrats were responsible for everything that she believe’s gone wrong with the school system.

“Being a board member doesn’t have anything to do with politics. That’s the problem,” Schultz claimed. “And there’s been one party that’s been in charge of the school system every single year since they were elected and many years actually before then when they were appointed.”

“The lack of planning time for teachers is because of one side,” Schultz said. “The lack of correct pay for teachers is because of one side. The lack of getting children off the pre-K waiting listing is because of one side. They are not delivering the solutions.”

She then went on to claim the reason she hasn’t been able to deliver for the Springfield district is because the rest of the school board refuses to even talk to her. “As long as they can get to seven [votes] without ever talking to anybody else,” Schultz claims the Democrats won’t even talk to her to consider the needs of her constituents.

Ironically, this comes from someone who was over 90 minutes late to at least two school board meetings in the last two weeks. If she isn’t even able to make it to meetings on time, it’s hard to imagine she’s truly aware of how her fellow board members are engaging each other and the general public. Commonsense suggests she’d likely play a larger role in the discussion if she’d simply show up on time to meetings the taxpayers are paying her to attend.

Of course, all this talk about partisanship and placing blame on the Democrats is a desperate attempt to suggest her opponents would put a partisan agenda ahead of engaging and representing the community. Both Kyle McDaniel, a former staffer to Republican supervisor Pat Herrity who’s now running against Schultz as an independent, and Laura Jane Cohen, a former teacher who’s the Democratic endorsed candidate, were quick to point out that it’s actually Elizabeth Schultz who’s failed to engage the general public

Kyle McDaniel even said her failure to engage the public was actually one of his major motivations for deciding to get into the race.

“Community engagement is critical and you can’t really represent people you don’t engage with,” McDaniel said. “That’s been one of the lacking issues, in my opinion, in the last eight years and one of my big motivations to run for this office.”

“Having worked for another person who represents this district on another board, I’ve learned that something as simple as a regular email newsletter” is extremely beneficial, Kyle said. He also stressed the importance of doing things like holding town halls (both in person one and over the phone), engaging on social media, and using a variety of other methods to reach out to the public.

After Kyle’s remarks, Schultz suggested the only reason she hasn’t engaged the public during her eight years on the board is because doesn’t have a half million dollar a year budget to spend on a staff.

“This is the problem with being on the outside looking in and having been the staff of someone who has a half a million dollars to staff his legislative and community outreach,” Schultz said. “It’s very easy to do community engagement when you have four, or five, or six, or seven staff members.”

She not only complained about the Board of Supervisors having a larger staff than the school board, but she grumbled about how she’s supposedly had “seven or eight executive assistants in the eight years” she’s been on the board. She suggested that this high turnover, the fact that members of the school board have to share staffers, and the lack of a large budget for staff are the reasons she hasn’t been showing up to PTA meetings, attending events at local schools, consistently holding community offices hours, or doing other activities that’d allow her to learn about what’s important to her constituents.

Of course, other school board members are working with the same tools and are able to find time to engage the community. Plus, Schultz can’t really be that hard pressed to find the time because she managed to skip a digital citizenship week event at Centreville High School a couple weeks ago in order to host an event with staff members from a designated hate group. This all suggests that she simply hasn’t prioritized engaging the community in an authentic manner.

Engaging the community also doesn’t have to cost a lot of time or money. As Laura Jane Cohen pointed out during the Springfield District Council forum, one of the ways a school board member can engage the community is by making appointments to the various citizen advisory committees. Schultz, however, hasn’t even bothered to do that.

“One of the first ways that we engage community members is by having these advisory committees to the school board,” Laura Jane said. “Unfortunately our school board member has been a chronic non-filler of appointments. We currently have four of the ten appointments where there is no one from the Springfield District sitting on them.”

“Our AAPAC, which is our advanced academics, hasn’t been filled in Springfield since 2016,” Laura Jane highlighted. “Our C-TEC, which I currently sit on, our career and technical education; no appointments since 2017. Our ACE committee, adult and community education; vacant since 2017. Our SHAC, student health advisory; nobody on there this year.”

“So making sure that we put our community members on these committees so we can have that interplay and advice from those committees is essential,” Laura Jane said showing a very easy way for a school board member to engage the community without a large staff or budget.

In other words, there are plenty of easy ways for a school board member to engage the public even though the Board of Supervisors has a bigger budget and more staff. As Kyle McDaniel put it later in the forum, “it doesn’t cost a half million dollars to send out an email.” Elizabeth Schultz has simply decided not to engage her constituents and is trying to shift the blame onto everyone else in order to avoid taking any responsibility for her time in office.

But if you want to see Schultz rant about how everyone else is to blame for her failure to engage the public and produce results during her time on the school board, here’s video of her closing statement from the Springfield District Council forum.

Elizabeth Schultz Says Immigrants are Bringing Diseases Into Fairfax County Public Schools

IMG_1704The Springfield District Council hosted a forum for candidates running for the Springfield seat on the Fairfax County School Board last night at Washington Irving Middle School. While many of the questions were topics like school boundaries and gun violence in our schools that have been covered at other forums, one of the questions asked if candidates thought students should be required to have all of their vaccinations before attending school in Fairfax County.

Not too surprisingly, all of the candidates said they thought students should be required to have vaccinations. After saying she believes parents whose stance on vaccinations doesn’t “fit within the norm of the public school process” should find an alternative place to educate their children, however, Elizabeth Schultz claimed immigrants are creating a public health crisis when they come into Fairfax County Public Schools

“The biggest problem is that we’re accepting students from around the world and they are entering into our schools without vaccinations right now and we’re having to pay for catching them up,” Schultz said. “So I think there’s a public health crisis and we’ve had a number of them.”

“Unfortunately, you all don’t know about that publicly when that happens,” Schultz added, “but we deal with it in closed session a lot. And it’s a frightening prospect when we have these and we have to do outreach to communities to resolve some very very serious problems about health exposure to students who are already in schools.”

For someone who claims to be “bullied mercilessly” by her fellow board members and others, Schultz was fairly quick to jump at an opportunity to use a page from Trump’s playbook and attack immigrants while answering a completely unrelated question. It’s truly unfortunate that she’s brought this level of vitriol to the school board.

As Laura Jane Cohen pointed out during her answer to the question, though, you can “ask military families if you can walk in an enroll your kid without your vaccination form.” Students are required to prove they’ve had their required vaccinations and it’s simply irresponsible to suggest otherwise.

On top of that, it was very noticeable that Schultz claimed the public doesn’t know about the alleged “public health crisis” because it supposedly all went down during a closed session. This is very convenient for her as there’s no way to dispute her version of events because the information’s legally not supposed to be on the public record or discussed by school board members in a public setting.

With that being said, Schultz’s decision to publicly discuss what she wants folks to believe happened during a closed session could potentially create some issues for her since it’s a clear violation of school board policy. I imagine no action would be taken until after the election, but it’ll still be worth paying attention to whether or not she’s held accountable for discussing alleged conversations from closed sessions.

All in all, this is a prime example of Elizabeth Schultz’s time on the school board. She’s so eager to attack other people that she’s willing to blatantly break policy in a desperate attempt to score political points and cast an entire group of people as harmful to the community. It’s simply unacceptable behavior and has no place in our political discourse — especially when it comes to our schools.

For those who are interested, here’s a recording of her answer.

Washington Post Announces School Board Endorsements

The Fairfax County School Board is technically a non-partisan body and was designed that way in hopes of helping members set aside politics to ensure our students receive the best education possible.  As the Washington Post editorial board wrote while announcing their school board endorsements, however, “that’s a fiction this year” as the “vitriolic” and “poisonous tone” resulting from the Republicans taking “a page from President Trump’s playbook of trafficking in fear, misinformation and demonization” has destroyed any chance of have a civil debate.

With that in mind, they ended up endorsing all three Democrats running for the school board’s three at large seats. They also endorsed Megan McLaughlin for the Braddock District seat, Elaine Tholen for Dranesville, Melanie Meren in Hunter Mill, Ricardy Anderson in Mason, and Karen Corbett Sanders in Mt. Vernon. While I have been following these races as every race on the school board is absolutely critical, here are the endorsements in the districts where I’ve been paying especially close attention.

In the Providence district, the Post endorsed Karl Frisch. Given that the announcements were made right before Game 4 of the World Series and Karl’s a big baseball fan, he apparently found out about the endorsement when another local candidate texted him about it while he was at Nationals Park waiting for the game to start. While highlighting why voters should support his candidacy, the Post mentioned how he “promises to use his skills as public policy advocate and communicator to address overcrowded classes and access to advanced academic programs.”

While Karl has been running on commonsense ideas, his opponent has claimed we’re wasting money on mental health and teacher training, says the LGBT community is “loudest special interest group” and we shouldn’t be focused on stopping bullying and discrimination against them, and claimed those concerned about diversity and ending bullying simply have “social emotional weakness” and are “out to victimize our children.”

When it comes to Sully, which is the magisterial district I live in, the Post endorsed “challenger Stella Pekarsky, a former teacher and parent of six public school students, would provide more energetic representation than incumbent Thomas Wilson.” Since several of the Republicans running for school board have been saying there needs to be more parents on the school board, it’s probably hard for them to argue that Stella doesn’t meet those qualifications (plus, she’s a teacher who’s bringing forth some solid ideas).

While it doesn’t specifically say this, the endorsement also gets to the heart of one of the major criticisms many people have of Wilson. He simply has a horrible attendance record and when he does bother to show up, he frequently arrives late, leaves early, and abstains on votes that might have required even a small amount of research. Despite his struggles to attend school board meetings, however, Wilson did find the time to attend an event outside of his district to express support for Elizabeth Schultz as she hosted a discussion with senior staffers from a designated hate group.

The endorsement in the Springfield district is where I partially disagree with the Post’s conclusions. While I agree that “either candidate challenging the strident and ineffective incumbent Elizabeth Schultz would be an improvement,” I disagree that Kyle McDaniel would be the better choice and strongly support Laura Jane Cohen for the seat.

That being said, there has been some interesting reactions to the endorsement online. Many people believe the Post was looking for a non-Democrat to endorse and McDaniel was essentially the only person who fit the bill and was even remotely qualified to be on the school board. With his history of working with Pat Herrity and leaving the Republican Party because it simply became too extreme, he makes for an interesting conservative to endorse and is still an upgrade from Elizabeth Schultz.

Other folks have been talking about how McDaniels might end up essentially splitting the vote of people who are feed up with the extremism that Schultz is promoting on the board. In typical “Not Larry Sabato” fashion that includes a little bit of sarcasm, for instance, Ben Tribbett took to twitter to express his concern.

“Kyle McDaniel was on track to get ONE vote (not sure he even had his wife on board) before tonight for his clown candidacy,” Ben tweeted. “Now there is real danger he could split the vote and allow Elizabeth Schultz to win again. If he is what he claims, he should immediately withdraw.”

It’s also worth noting that while the Post did call out the “vitriolic” and “poisonous tone” that’s “been set by the Republican-backed candidates” in the beginning of the article, Elizabeth Schultz was the only candidate they specifically said something negative about. As I’ve been laying out in post, after post, after post here, Schultz does take things to the extreme fairly often and has been caught trying to spread misinformation during forums in desperate attempts to make her opponents look bad. It’s therefore somewhat understandable how they took the anybody’s better than Schultz approach.

Besides picking McDaniel over Laura Jane Cohen, the Washington Post hit it spot on with the endorsements. Perhaps more important than who the supported, however, was their decision to call out the Republicans for the ugliness they’ve brought to the campaign. The rhetoric and misinformation they’ve been using has no place in our political discourse, but that’s especially the case when it comes to the school board.

Elizabeth Schultz Hosts Event With Senior Staff of Designated Hate Group

IMG_1367On Tuesday of this week (October 22, 2019), Fairfax County Public Schools hosted a meeting for the community at Centreville High School entitled “Community Event on how to Support our Students in a Digital World.” Considering how Elizabeth Schultz showed up almost two hours late to a recent school board meeting and therefore missed an entire presentation from experts, teachers, administrators, parents, and students about FCPSOn (a program that deals with technology in our schools), one would think she’d want to show up to an important event in her own district that was part of Digital Citizenship Week.

Schultz couldn’t be bothered to attend the event at Centreville High School, however, because she was too busy attending an event with Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council. The event focused in on attacking the transgender community and argued that the Democrats on the school board are using “sex politics” to completely change the purpose of sex ed and destroy our community.

For those who don’t know, the Family Research Council is so extreme that it’s been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Also in attendance at the event was Ruse’s husband Austin Ruse, who has bragged about his connections to the Proud Boys — another designated hate group that’s known for promoting a white nationalist and misogynistic agenda. They’re also notorious for using physical violence to impose its views. Proud Boys members, for instance, played a roll in organizing the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville where Heather Hayer was murdered by a white nationalist.

Of course, these associations are nothing new when it comes to Elizabeth Schultz as she’s frequently promoted articles from the Daily Caller (a website that has connections to the alt-right and featured writings from the Unite the Right rally’s primary organizer) and has said wealthy Jews and “hard left advocacy organizations” using methods promoted by Jewish community organizers are coming into Fairfax from outside the community to attack her campaign and “really change the entire structure of Fairfax County.”

With all that being said, it was still a surreal experience to see how much hatred and bigotry they could jam into a two hour session.

ACCUSATIONS AGAINST THE SCHOOL BOARD

IMG_1364Cathy Ruse started her portion of the event by saying the “board is playing sex politics” with children and pushing a transgender ideology. According to Ruse, this could be a revolution that’s as bad as the 1960s. She also suggested this was part of a larger radical social agenda and the left was treating children as “lab rats” in social experiments.

She then went on to chastise individual school board members who refused to sit idly by as anti-LGBT organizations tried to instill hatred and bigotry in Fairfax County Public Schools.

“You see Ryan McElveen, the sponsor, scolding parents from the dais and telling them they’re on the wrong side of history,” Ruse clearly said mockingly while describing the scene when anti-LGBT hoards tried to take over a school board meeting. She added that the one exception on the board at the time was Schultz, who she said is “the bravest woman I know.”

Much like how Schultz has been claiming there’s some sort of national conspiracy out to get her while they’re promoting things like making sure everybody has an opportunity to thrive, Ruse went on to suggest Fairfax is just one of the school systems that’s part of a nationwide effort to demand transgender equality.

“First they claim students are being harassed, so policies must be changed the prevent discrimination,” Ruse told the audience. “Then they demand that the only way to have safe schools is to adopt the total transgender agenda” that includes things like “opening up private spaces” and the “forced use of pronouns.”

“It’s not about anti-bullying, it’s about power and politics,” Ruse added in a statement clearly meant to imply transgender students weren’t being bullied and the school board shouldn’t really be concerned with the issue.

DISCUSSION ON SUICIDE IN THE TRANS COMMUNITY

Much like how Elizabeth Schultz has claimed she’s bullied despite having a reputation for constantly demeaning the school system’s staff and her fellow school board members, Ruse said supporters of basic equality for the transgender community are “bullying parents into harming their children.”

In other words, Ruse was saying trans kids aren’t being bullied, but it’s trans people and their allies who are actually the bullies. She wasn’t content to simply say the transgender community was bullying opponents of equality as she continued by saying “the bullies ultimate trump card is suicide.”

“Parents are told they must do this or they’ll lose their child to suicide,” the “senior fellow” for a designated hate group said. “Better to have a trans daughter than a dead son.”

She said “there’s no evidence to support this claim” that transgender people are susceptible to suicide if they’re not accepted by their community. In order to reinforce this claim, she highlighted a study that supposedly said even trans people who’ve had gender confirmation surgery are “twenty times [more likely] than non-trans people” to commit suicide. In other words, the study she decided to highlight shows suicide is an issue in the transgender community and should probably be addressed. People are therefore right to bring up the issue with parents who are trying to figure out how to respond to their child’s issues relating to gender identity.

Interestingly, Republican school board candidate Andi Bayer included mental health services as an area where the school system’s currently wasting money while discussing the budget at a recent forum. Between Bayer’s comments and Ruse’s suggestion that the risk of suicide is only being used to promote acceptance of the transgender community, it’s quite obvious Republicans do not value efforts to provide mental health services that could help students thrive and potentially save lives.

But Ruse didn’t stop there. In addition to claiming parents are being bullied into accepting transgender children, she claimed it’s actually child abuse to be accepting of the transgender community. This rhetoric is not only dangerous for transgender people, but harms students who are actually being abused. Muddying the water like this only makes it harder for students who need assistance when they’re being abused.

“TRANS THEORY IS A FRAUD” BECAUSE “GOD DOESN’T MAKE MISTAKES”

As part of Ruse’s argument for why “trans theory is a fraud,” she claimed “God doesn’t make mistakes” and “every person was born in exactly the right body.”

The belief that “God doesn’t make mistakes” is why Ruse claims it’s against Christian beliefs to use a transgender person’s correct pronouns. She highlighted how former teacher Peter Vlaming was fired after he refused to he/him/his pronouns for a transgender male in one of his classes.

Ruse claimed Vlaming’s religious beliefs were being violated because he was “refusing to use a false pronoun.” In the version of the story she told, there was nothing about the bigotry the teacher was reinforcing, but an insistence  that “he explained to the school that as a Christian he believes that God made humans male and female and that to use false pronouns would deny God’s purposeful design and he just couldn’t do it. And so they fired him, for insubordination, by unanimous vote.”

“Two weeks ago he filed suit against the school for $1 million,” Ruse snidely added, “and I hope he gets every penny.”

In case people weren’t buying her religious argument, Ruse also proclaimed that “biology is not bigotry” and said science proves there are only two genders and DNA confirms this. Even if you’re willing to ignore the science that shows the brains of transgender people are more closely aligned with the gender they identify with, her argument clearly ignores the fact that there are intersex people. Previously referred to as hermaphrodites, the UN Commissioner on Human Rights defines intersex people as those “who are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.”

CRITICISM OF FCPS’s FLE PROGRAM

Ruse then transitioned into bashing the school system’s Family Life Education (FLE) program and had a lot to say about the language the curriculum used. Like many of the Republican candidates for school board, she appeared to be extremely frustrated that the material was no longer referred to as sex ed. She suggested calling it FLE was simply a way to disguise the true agenda the board and transgender community were supposedly trying to promote.

She was also absolutely furious that the term “sex assigned at birth” was included and suggested it’s a “propaganda term pushed used by transgender advocates to promote their agenda.” She claimed this meant school board was removing “the concept that human beings have a biologically decided sex of male or female” in order to suggest “you don’t have a real sex, just a placeholder that someone assigns to you.” In her opinion, this meant students would just randomly decide to change their gender on a whim.

Elizabeth Schultz later picked up on the same messaging as she said one of her big questions about protections for the transgender community included wanting to know how many times students were allowed to change their gender on school documents. Furthermore, she wondered if the school system had anyway of rejecting requests for changing a student’s recognized gender.

Ruse also complained that the abstinence portion of the FLE curriculum no longer said the word marriage, but instead suggested students should wait until they’re in long term, committed “monogamous relationship.” This apparently was unacceptable to her as it was taking marriage, which she believes has religious and moral standards, out of the discussion.

It was Ruse’s belief that FLE should also be turned into a special after school program that students could stay after school hours to attend. Perhaps realizing that Sex Ed has been a part of the education process for generations and therefore wasn’t going anywhere, she also encouraged parents to simply opt their children out of the program. This would of course not only deny them information about safe sex and reproductive health, but also single them out for ridicule from them peers.

When the taunting aspect was asked about by a member of the audience during the Q&A portion of the event, Schultz responded by saying “they’re gonna be ridiculed for the rest of their life, so they minus well get used to it now.”

This not only seemed like a rather harsh response, but it also raised a lot of questions about her response to earlier controversies she’s been involved in. After she received criticism for remarks that suggested she thought “both sides” of the Holocaust needed to be taught, for example, she claimed her remarks were really just about standing up to bullies. Oddly, she also suggested that attempts to say otherwise were really just coming from wealthy Jewish people funding the efforts of people who oppose her campaign.

SCHULTZ JOINS IN CRITIQUES OF FLE AND PROTECTIONS FOR TRANS STUDENTS

In addition to her comments referenced above, Schultz also spent a lot of her speech complaining about the FLE curriculum while making sure it was clear she didn’t support basic equality for the transgender community.

It was noteworthy that Schultz complained about the student member of the school board got to appoint four members of the FLE commission (one student per high school grade level), which she claims was unfair because her conservative voice was supposedly automatically outnumbered at least four to one.

Not only is this argument ludicrous, but it’s also very odd considering she recently spoke about how highly qualified the student school board member is and said the student will bring a valuable perspective to crucial issues. Based upon her view that the student shouldn’t be able to make appointments to the commission, however, it appears as though her remarks were only designed to make herself look good during an official school board meeting that was being televised.

SCHULTZ ON TRANSGENDER STUDENTS IN LOCKER ROOMS

As the conversation moved forward, the locker room situation got brought up. This is often where anti-LGBT folks try to cast transgender people as monsters who are always out to sexually abuse women. Schultz sent out this dog whistle while claiming “we were the experimental playground” on issues surrounding “privacy in intimate spaces.”

“This doesn’t fundamentally make sense,” Schultz claimed. “It doesn’t make sense that we can say that in a locker room, where people are changing, particularly for sports, that you should have people who have physiological characteristics of opposite sexes in the same space.”

“This is not bigotry, this is commonsense,” Schultz added. “I said ‘are we going to provide single stall changing areas because there were test cases in other states where they fought event that.’ No, that’s discrimination if you create a separate space because that’s treating them differently.”

While a conservative member of the audience exclaimed “what” at this point, the whole argument for separate but equal has been accepted as unconstitutional for generations. In a unanimous decision back in 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs Board of Education that separate facilities are “inherently unequal” and are therefore unconstitutional. While this is an extremely famous case that started the desegregation of American schools, Schultz didn’t appear to under the basic concept that there is no such thing as “separate but equal.”

Of course, this didn’t stop Schultz from continuing on a tirade about transgender students in “intimate spaces.” And like she’s done on so many occasions, she claimed this was simply the rest of the school board trying to ram through some sort of “radical agenda.”

“There is no barrier right now that they do not want to knock down,” Schultz claimed. “Because it’s not even providing for the common decency of the privacy of the students that are involved.”

“All barriers must be knocked down and it will only be on their terms,” Schultz added trying to continue the claim that basic equality was some sort of radical agenda. “It will never on terms that respect decency for people” who share religious values.

SUMMARY AND AUDIO

While there was more in depth conversation about how horrible Ruse and Schultz thought transgender people are, the aforementioned highlights illustrate the gist of what they had to say. Essentially, they believe nobody’s actually transgender because “God doesn’t make mistakes” and anybody promoting the idea of basic equality for trans people is pushing some sort of “radical agenda” that will result in the violation of women’s privacy and religious freedom.

Especially when you consider that Elizabeth Schultz had already missed an entire presentation on technology and digital education tools earlier this month because she couldn’t be bothered to show up on time for a school board meeting, it’s truly a shame she decided to spend her Tuesday evening with a hate group spewing anti-trans bigotry instead of attending the school system’s presentation held in her district on how to “support students in a digital world.”

It does, however, give the public a prime example of what Elizabeth Schultz has decided to prioritize during her time on the Fairfax County School Board.

For those who are interested, here’s the full audio of Cathy Ruse’s remarks:

And here’s the full audio of Elizabeth Schultz’s remarks:

Elizabeth Schultz Sends More Dog Whistles About George Soros Funding a “Radical Agenda” to “Really Change the Entire Structure of Fairfax”

IMG_0812Elizabeth Schultz’s remarks regarding how the Holocaust is taught in schools have received a lot of attention (as they justly should), which eventually forced her to respond. Instead of coming out with a simple, “hey, here’s what I was really saying” type of response, though, she come out ended up alleging “hard left advocacy organizations funded by George Soros” (a Jewish man) using advocacy techniques from a Jewish community organizer (Saul Alinksy) to distract from an article written in the Daily Caller — a website with connections to the alt-right that featured the writing of the guy who organized the United the Right rally in Charlottesville (where white nationalists carried torches while marching and chanting “Jews will not replace us“).

Apparently these dog whistles to the “Jews will not replace us” folks wasn’t just a one time thing as she’s brought up George Soros on other occasions. Just as in her email responding to her controversial remarks about the Holocaust, her other remarks clearly claim wealthy Jewish people are funding efforts to promote a “radical agenda” that would “really change the entire structure of Fairfax County.”

This was said during an appearance on “Morning on the Mall” show, which is a conservative talk radio show on WMAL. The interview started off innocent enough as Schultz was asked about the lawsuit against FCPS regarding the overuse of seclusion with students with disabilities. That’s a current and worthwhile topic to ask a school board member about, so nobody has any qualms about that line of questioning. Even though she claimed she couldn’t talk about the situation due to the pending litigation, however, Schultz did manage to work One Fairfax into the conversation on the lawsuit.

This caused the show’s hosts to take things in a completely different direction by moving the conversation to One Fairfax. Schulz was quick to take a stab at the Superintendent by saying he was preventing work from being done on boundary changes — “supposedly in the name of One Fairfax.” She went on to say “something just doesn’t sit right” about “this notion that everything is going to be done through the view of equity.” Instead of just leaving it at that, she went on to reference the aforementioned Daily Caller article and suggested George Soros was funding a nationwide campaign that would destroy home values and “really change Fairfax.”

“The explosive nature of what’s behind One Fairfax and the deeply embedded nationwide spread of this radical agenda to embed junk science through activism and groups funded, you know, all the way up to Soros and other activist organizations,” Schultz said, “is a frightening prospect that we could effect family, boundaries, neighborhoods, home values, significantly, by forcing lens of equity decisions on things like boundary changes.”

“It’s some that people desperately got to pay attention to,” Schultz added. “They’re trying to really change the entire structure of Fairfax County. Every single decision on the Board of Supervisors and on the School Board.”

She eventually ended the interview by saying “a lot is on the line” because she claims “it’s a crucial thing driving the operation and formation of what the future of Fairfax is going to look like” even though “the government is being run people who very few people bother to look into.”

In other words, she’s repeatedly insisted on highlighting an article from a website with antisemtic connections, claimed the money of wealthy Jews is being used to implement organizing techniques written about by a Jewish community organizer to stir up opposition to her candidacy, and now claims wealthy Jews want “people who very few people bother to look into” to push a “radical agenda” that will “really change the entire structure of Fairfax County.”

This is extremely dangerous rhetoric that has already inspired some of the most vile Holocaust deniers and right wing extremists to entire the discussion about Fairfax County Schools. Considering how her fellow Republicans in Fairfax had been accusing local Democrats of promoting antisemitism for several weeks leading up to this scandal, the silence of the Fairfax Republican Party and local Republican officials like Pat Herrity (Board of Supervisors) and Tom Wilson (school board) now is absolutely deafening. Fairfax County deserves better.

Elizabeth Schultz Suggests She’s Being Bullied By Organizations Funded By Wealthy Jews

Elizabeth Schultz has responded to the reports about her comments regarding how the Holocaust is being taught in schools and has essentially claimed that she is being bullied by organizations that are funded by, and use the tactics of, Jewish people.

“The non-stop hustle of using Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals is something I have endured for years,” Schultz claimed. Saul Alinsky is a Jewish man who was a community organizer and wrote a book about how to successfully advocate for your beliefs. While his politics were definitely part of the left, it’s appalling that she would go after a Jewish person while trying to say she didn’t make anti-semitic remarks.

Of course, she didn’t just go after Saul Alinsky, she also claimed that people who opposed her candidacy are being fueled by “hard left advocacy groups, funded by George Soros.” The anti-semitic crowd has a long history of going after Soros, who happens to be Jewish, and implying he’s just the latest example of wealthy Jewish people trying to take over the government. Once gain, it is highly unusual that she would claim a Jewish person was funding the efforts against her while she’s facing criticism of her remarks relating to the Holocaust unless she’s trying to invoke these anti-semitic dog whistles.

She claims that all of these things is a desperate attempt to distract from an article written by Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller. Interestingly, it should be noted that the Daily Caller has connections to the Alt-Right — including publishing material from the organizer of the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally, Jason Kessler. Again, most politicians would want to avoid any sort of connection to the alt-right, especially when they’re already receiving criticism for remarks about the Holocaust. It should be remembered, after all, that “Jews will not replace us” was one of the chants at the Unite the Right rally.

In other words, Elizabeth Schultz used material from an organization with connections to the Alt-Right in an attempt to claim she’s being bullied by groups funded by wealthy Jewish people. Her attempts claim she her words were misunderstood have simply highlighted even more concerns about her connections to anti-semitism.

Republicans Responding To Elizabeth Schultz Story

SchultzAs the story about Elizabeth Schultz’s comments regarding “both sides” of the Holocaust being taught in schools has received a lot of attention, there have been some Republicans who started to respond. They appear to realize that suggesting there are two sides of the Holocaust is a horrible thing to do, so folks supporting Schultz have claimed the remarks are “misconstrued,” come from a “dubious” source, and that she was really talking about standing up to bullying. After watching the video of the remarks, however, it’s clear these are simply desperate attempts to avoid having to admit the truth about what Schultz said.

In comments that have since been deleted (but I have screenshots just in case they want to dispute any quotes), the official account of the Sully District Republican Committee took to Facebook to say the information isn’t correct because the source of the video “seems to be Blue Virginia ….dubious at best.” While the video was originally posted on what’s admittedly a liberal website devoted to Virginia politics, it’s a highly respected source, the remarks were made in front of a conservative organization and recorded by somebody in attendance, and the video shows Schultz’s unedited comments.

Of course, they also tried to get a little snarky and said “this is why I enjoy discussing issues with the other side, the incorrectness of their position will eventually be proven to be incorrect.” I found this rather hilarious considering it was the positions Schultz took during a recent forum that were “proven to be incorrect.”

When that line of argument didn’t seem to be working, the Sully Republicans went on to insist “she’s speaking in the context of bullying.” Because that’s a way to make it sound like Schultz is actually looking out for the best interests of students, it’s easy to see why Republicans would want to promote this narrative. Through listening to her statement, however, it’s still clear that she was saying there were two sides of the Holocaust that need to “be presented” even if she was promoting an end to bullying.

Schultz’s remarks were using a hypothetical example that discussed the Holocaust being taught to students whose family members were associated with the Holocaust (she doesn’t say how they were hypothetically involved) and ultimately said “the school boards are not demanding both sides of an issue be presented.” That statement suggests there are two sides to the Holocaust and she appears to be upset school boards are not demanding both sides be presented.

Where the bullying defense might come into play is during the same comment she said students discussing the Holocaust might think a teacher’s “delimiting my ability to offer my side of it.” Using the reasoning of the Sully District Republicans, the clear implication of the statement is that not allowing a discussion on both sides of the Holocaust would amount to bullying.

Forcing students to hear only one side of many issues might be bad and it’d be a good thing for students to stand up for themselves in that situation, but there is no other side to the Holocaust. It’s extremely disturbing that Schultz would even consider the Holocaust a topic where students might need “to offer my side.” The statement she made suggests she thinks there are two sides of the Holocaust that could be taught. She might be standing up for students who want to prevent teachers from discussing only one side, but she was still saying there’s two sides to the Holocaust.

There were also Schultz supporters on other discussion forums who said the comments were being “intentionally misconstrued by Laura Jane Cohen — a weak candidate whose only distinguishing characteristic appears to be that she’s not Schultz.” (And there are screenshots of these to in case they mysteriously get deleted like the ones from the Sully Republicans). Setting aside the dig against Cohen’s background (and there’s plenty of info out there that disproves that claim), it illustrates how Schultz and her supporters like to channel Donald Trump. When they’re confronted with video evidence of what’s said, they simply choose to ignore the evidence and claim everybody else is lying.

With all this in mind, there are some questions that need to be answered by both Elizabeth Schultz and her fellow Republicans:

For the Fairfax County Republican Party and the candidates they support, it should be noted that they have accused Democrats of supporting antisemitism recently. Will the same candidates who made those claims now speak up against Elizabeth Schultz and her remarks?

And for Elizabeth Schultz directly, does she realize her remarks were hurtful? Will she publicly state there aren’t two sides to the Holocaust and that it was a poor decision to claim the school board should demand both sides be presented on this particular issue? And will she publicly admit that teachers aren’t bullying students just because they don’t present “both sides” of the Holocaust?

Elizabeth Schultz Says Schools Should Teach “Both Sides” of the Holocaust

SchultzElizabeth Schultz has a history of making extremely controversial remarks and treating the school system’s staff and her fellow board members horribly while promoting an extremist agenda, but it appears as though she’s taken it to a whole new level. As Lowell Feld over at Blue Virginia highlighted earlier today, Schultz spoke to a group called the Prince William and Manassas Family Alliance that’s based outside of her district (and the county in general) so she perhaps thought her constituents wouldn’t know about her speech. During her remarks, Schultz said liberals were promoting an education policy that harmed a student’s “ability to offer [their] side of” the holocaust.

“If you are a ninth grader in biology who is a Muslim girl or a 10th grader in a history class who has great grandparents who were from the Holocaust, do you think that you have the ability to stand up there and say ‘no’ to a teacher or say ‘that’s not right that you’re teaching me that’ or that you’re delimiting my ability to offer my side of it,” Schultz said. “The school boards are not demanding both sides of an issue be presented.”

But the conservative Republican who represents the Springfield District on the Fairfax County School Board didn’t stop there. After frequently supporting candidates and a political party that villainizes immigrants, Schultz claimed that curriculum “the people who are immigrants who wind up most disadvantaged [by the school system’s curriculum] are actually poor, non English speaking parents.” But she didn’t say this because she cared about poor immigrants. It appears as though she really wanted everyone to know she didn’t think they were smart enough to follow what was going on in the schools.

“Do you think that the parents who are immigrants to this country, who may have a certain ethnic or cultural or religious set of values, that they are able to access the content that’s difficult for my husband and I [sic] to navigate,” Schultz said, “are they as aware of what’s going on and able to help their children learn, help them to discern what they’re learning within the context of their values, of their religion of their upbringing?” She went on to say “the parents don’t even understand what their children are learning.”

It didn’t stop there as she went on to say she’s “bullied mercilessly as a school board member.” This is despite the fact that she frequently berates staff members and just two weeks ago suggested official reports have been manipulated as part of a conspiracy to help one of the other board members. It’s also noteworthy that she’d suggest this even though she’s voted against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the school system’s non-discrimination policy, which would have helped students who are among the most bullied groups in the school system. Plus, she was caught blatantly lying at a community forum a couple weeks ago in hopes of shaming her opponent and making her look bad.

The response to Schultz’s extreme remarks has been quick and people across the political spectrum are speaking out against her bigoted remarks. Laura Jane Cohen, the Democratic endorsed candidate for the Springfield seat, said “it never ceases to amaze [her] what Elizabeth Schultz will say to hate groups when she’s behind closed doors.”

“The school board’s biggest bully shouldn’t be lecturing anyone about bullying. The fact that Schultz would mention religious minorities while demanding that teachers present ‘both sides of an issue,’ is deeply troubling. As someone who sat in synagogue this week for Yom Kippur, while people just like me were attacked in Germany for who we are and how we worship, I believe that even entertaining the idea that there are two sides to the Holocaust is dangerous,” Cohen said. “That kind of thinking has no home here, especially when it comes to how we educate our students.”

One of Pat Herrity’s (who’s the district’s Republican representative on the Board of Supervisors) former staffers who’s running for the school board as an independent also expressed disappointment in the remarks and called on Schultz to drop out of the race.

“These comments are beyond the pale and have no place, at all, in our community, much less in a position of leadership over our school system,” Kyle McDaniel said. “Let me be clear, there are not ‘two sides’ to the Holocaust. Elizabeth Schultz needs to immediately apologize, resign, and drop out of this race. She has shown that she has neither the temperament, nor the decency to be our representative.”

It’s one thing to have differing views on issues, but it’s a whole different thing to insist on teaching “both sides” of the holocaust, implying immigrants are too dumb to follow what’s going on in the schools, and claiming to be bullied even though she has a history of actively mistreating others. As someone who grew up in the Springfield district and now lives in the nearby Sully district, I can tell you Elizabeth Schultz absolutely does not represent the community’s values. Western Fairfax County deserves better.

For those who are interested, here’s video of her remarks:

Update: In response to this situation, Elizabeth Schultz has now claimed she’s being bullied by organizations funded by wealthy Jews in order to distract from reports published in outlets with connections to the alt-right and the organizer of the white nationalist Unite the Right rally.

Fairfax County Republicans Are Trumpifying Our Schools

The partisan divide has been growing for awhile now, but the extreme rhetoric Donald Trump repeatedly uses has people rightfully frustrated with the state of political discourse in the country. The bigotry and misinformation Trump uses has almost become commonplace now at the federal level, but most folks remained hopeful that elected officials could come together to get things done at the local level. The 2019 state and local elections here in Virginia, however, illustrate how the GOP has allowed Trump’s divide and conquer strategy to invade local politics.

One of the most obvious examples of this can be found in the races for Fairfax County School Board. The conservatives appear to have made it their life’s mission to scare people into thinking liberals are going to “bus students to distant schools” in the name of increasing diversity, blatantly lie about their opponents and their own record, demean the county’s non-political staff, and even mock students with disabilities. They do all of this while running for what’s supposed to be a non partisan board and claiming they’re not interested in playing political games.

While candidates who aren’t currently on the board are certainly participating in the divisive rhetoric, it’s been the two incumbent conservatives who are leading the charge to bring Trump style politics into the county’s school system.

Tom Wilson currently represents the Sully District and has been attempting to portray himself as being above the political fray. He even declared he supposedly wasn’t a political hack because he believes “children don’t walk through school doors with a D or an R on their forehead” at a recent forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters. The problem is, he’s been receiving a lot of heat for having a poor attendance record and promoting an extreme agenda when he can even be bothered to show up.

IMG_0648There have been multiple excuses as to why he supposedly missed so many meetings, but the answer seems to vary depending on who he’s talking to. The one he used with me on Facebook was that it was actually “fake news” and he only missed some meetings while his son was sick. While everybody certainly realizes a child’s health takes priority and he’d have a valid excuse if that were indeed the case, that’s not what he previously told people was the reason he missed so many meetings. Perhaps realizing that nobody was buying his new excuse, he’s now deleted those comments (but I grabbed a screenshot) and is telling people that it’s okay he completely missed meetings and arrived late and left early during others because it’s “part time pay” and “as you know if you’ve watched school board meetings, they can be quite long.”

In addition to channeling Trump through using the “fake news” messaging, he also accused his opponent of lying about his attendance even though public record shows she was telling the truth. This appears to be a desperate attempt to muddy the water and distract from his record while making his opponent look bad. That doesn’t seem like the type of behavior someone who’s truly only interested in serving the students would be modeling while running for School Board.

Elizabeth Schultz has joined Wilson in channeling Trump and is known for being extremely difficult to get along with. Not only was she caught blatantly lying during a forum and frequently demean folks who disagree with her, but she’s even bragged to the media about how she’s supposedly “not going to go along to get along.” A prime example of how she refuses to “get along” with her fellow school board members came during the school board meeting on September 26, 2019.

That meeting featured a discussion about adjusting the boundaries between McLean and Langley High Schools. The changes would make it so students who live on the border of the extremely overcrowded McLean High’s territory would attend the nearby Langley High, which actually has hundreds of empty seats and could potentially lose staff if the school doesn’t get more students. The neighborhoods that’d be impacted already have relationships with the communities that attend Langley, so the move simply makes sense. But that didn’t stop Schultz from screaming at board members, demeaning staff members, and suggesting there was some sort of vast left wing conspiracy taking place.

At various events throughout the community, several conservative candidates for school board like Zia Tompkins have claimed the School Board only wanted to address the overcrowded population at McLean High School as “part of a sweetheart deal for outgoing school board member Jane Strauss.” Schultz echoed those sentiments at the September 26th meeting by claiming the school board wanted to “slide somebody else in” before addressing schools like Centreville and Chantilly High (which are indeed overcrowded, but simply don’t have the easy solution like there is with McLean and Langley). She even went as far as suggesting staff members were changing reports in order to show schools were “mysteriously not as overcrowded as [they] were last year.”

While she was spewing all these allegations, she managed to stop for a second to scream “stop shaking your head, Ms Strauss” in a manner that suggest she was disgusted by someone who was silently and calmly sitting a few seats away and listening to the smear campaign. This is just the latest in a long history of Schultz doing whatever she can to sew a little discord on the School Board.

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Of course, the incumbents aren’t the only conservative candidates for School Board who are making a point of spreading misinformation while launching attacks and trying to be as divisive as possible. As mentioned before, Zia Tompkins (who’s running in the Braddock District against incumbent Megan McLaughlin) has joined the cause of putting partisanship ahead of real solutions.

During the school board forum hosted by the League of Women Voters last weekend, Tompkins was quick to prove he was willing to play fast and lose with the rules of decorum while at a non-partisan event. While talking about One Fairfax, for example, he claimed this was just liberals way of conducting “social engineering” and suggested it would result in busing students to far off schools in the name of diversity. This is rhetoric that’s similar to that used by people who opposed school integration during the Civil Rights movement and is far from the truth of what’s going on with any school boundary discussions.

Zia also used a portion of his opening statement to suggest members of the school system’s staff were overpaid, weren’t doing their jobs correctly, and only interested in some sort of partisan agenda. This clearly isn’t the type of soaring discourse we’d expect from someone who wants to develop good working relationships with people who have devoted their life to the education system, but he didn’t stop there.

Tompkins went on to say folks who disagreed with him were “drinking the Kool Aid” and that having the school board put forward policies was actually just an attempt to “micromanage” the school system (ummmm….the school board is supposed to set policy. That’s what it’s there for). The clear implication of his remarks was that he believed anybody who didn’t agree with him was crazy and didn’t deserve respect. He further illustrated his contempt for having to engage with people who might disagree with him by spreading misinformation in a desperate attempt to discredit McLaughlin and anybody else who had an opposing opinion.

As if going after other candidates and the school system’s staff isn’t bad enough, Vinson Palathingal decided he’d go after students with disabilities during a recent debate for the at large candidates. While discussing accommodations that could be made to help students with learning disabilities thrive, Vinson said he doesn’t think there should be anything done for “silly things like ADD” and claimed it was wrong to give them more time to complete tests.

As Palathingal faced a lot of public outcry after the debate, he started claiming folks were lying about what he said — a common tactic among the conservative school board candidates this year whenever they’re caught doing something unpopular. When video evidence and in depth breakdowns of what happened were published online, he changed his tone and then claimed it was okay because he was speaking as the parent of someone with ADHD. He even made sure his son weighed in on the controversy.

With all the channeling of Donald Trump that the Republicans have been doing in Fairfax County, Vinson’s remarks reminded me of when Trump mocked a reporter who has a congenital joint condition. The complete and utter disrespect that Trump displayed during that press conference is the same type of attitude conservatives have taken in their campaigns for the Fairfax County School Board. Our school system is one of the top performing districts in the entire country and deserves better leadership than what the Fairfax County GOP is offering right now.

Steve Adragna Suggests Transgender Community Changes Gender “Every Six Months”

steve adragnaRepublicans in Northern Virginia have a history of trying to claim they don’t support discrimination, but belittling the LGBT community and supporting policies that make them second class citizens. The latest example of this came in a League of Women Voters forum held last night for candidates running in the 42nd House of Delegates district and Springfield School Board races.

When candidates were asked what they would do to help prevent discrimination against the LGBT community, Steve Adragna claimed he didn’t want to make anyone feel as though they weren’t equal. That would have been a decent position to take even though it contradicts positions his party has taken, but he went on to claim that preventing discrimination based on someone’s gender identity would “force corporations to switch the pronouns they use for someone every six months.”

This completely diminishes the struggles facing the transgender community and helps show he clearly doesn’t actually believe everyone should be treated as equals. Just because someone is transgender doesn’t mean they’re going to change their gender “every six months.” To imply they’ll simply be changing their gender willy nilly whenever they feel like it suggests he doesn’t have respect for their true gender identity and therefore thinks they shouldn’t be protected from employers who can fire them simply for being transgender.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a Republican in Fairfax County has used a similar type of reasoning to claim there shouldn’t be laws banning discrimination based on gender identity. Tom Wilson, who currently represents the Sully District on the School Board has suggested the transgender community isn’t real and says preventing discrimination against trans people would mean he could suddenly wake up and decide to be a mother.

Ironically, both of these men constantly talk about how they’re supposedly running because they’re sick of partisan politics and they want to focus on the needs of the community instead of promoting a political agenda. Their insistence on devaluing an entire group of people and promoting an anti-LGBT agenda, however, shows they unquestionably have a right wing agenda they hope to promote while in office.

Elizabeth Schultz has also joined calls for blocking any effort to ban discrimination against the LGBT community, of course, but she makes no pretense to hide her bigotry. She’s even spoken at events sponsored by the Family Research Council, which has officially been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And as recently as last week’s school board meeting, she claimed her fellow board members were too focused on promoting a “radical social agenda” rather than providing real solutions for students.

While all of this is disappointing, Delegate Kathy Tran showed residents of the 42nd district have an opportunity to be represented by someone who actually does believe in equality. She highlighted how she supported legislation that would prevent discrimination in public housing and employment based on sexual orientation. Unfortunately, both pieces of legislation were killed in subcommittee by the Republican majority. The good news is it appears as though they would have been passed by the full House if a few extreme conservatives hadn’t prevented them from moving forward.

Laura Jane Cohen who’s running to replace Schultz on the School Board also made it clear that she supports measures that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While it was said as part of a larger discussion about One Fairfax, Laura Jane said she strongly believes every student deserves an equal opportunity for success no matter what background they came from.

What this all means is that conservatives in Northern Virginia have often tried to portray themselves as supporting equality for all, but have no problem mocking the transgender community and suggesting efforts to ban discrimination against trans people don’t deserve serious consideration.