Press Release on DOJ Memo
October 11, 2021
The U.S. Department of Justice announced that it has directed the FBI to investigate assertions by the National School Boards Association that teachers and public school employees face potential harm from parents who dissent with their decisions on public health issues such as mandatory masking, curricula based on critical race theory (CRT), sexually explicit materials and curricula in libraries, and other controversial issues.
Statement by John Beatty, candidate, 10 Congressional District, Virginia; member, Loudoun County School Board
When I said recently that education is the leading issue for the 2021 - 2022 electoral campaigns across the nation, I was right on the mark.
Here in Virginia, at a September 28 gubernatorial debate between Republican nominee for Governor Glenn Youngkin and his Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe, McAuliffe was challenged on the fact that, during his previous term as Virginia Governor, he had vetoed a bipartisan bill sponsored by the Family Foundation and passed by the legislature with bipartisan support because it would have given parents notification of sexually explicit curriculum materials being used in Virginia public schools.
When pressed on this, McAuliffe responded, “I’m not gonna let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions,” and “I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Then, on September 30, the Family Foundation, which tracks these issues carefully from its Richmond headquarters, reported that during testimony before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona could not agree with Sen. Mike Braun that parents are the primary stakeholder in a child’s education. Cardona said that “parents are important stakeholders but that educators have a role in determining educational programming.”
The Family Foundation reports further: “powerful elites aren’t just trying to minimize the role of parents. Now, real efforts are actually underway to criminalize dissent. On September 29, the National School Board Association wrote a letter to President Biden calling on the Administration to classify “these heinous actions [by parents] as the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” While not citing any specific incidents, they simply claimed a generalized increase in “acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials.”
It’s one thing to investigate violence or possible threats – neither of which has been reported – but it’s beyond the pale to treat every parent who disagrees with school board missteps and policies as an enemy of the local school board. We should look at the organization of a parents’ movement as a sign that there are serious problems in our system of education, not in the parents who have the primary role in their children’s education
What does the National School Boards Association actually do? Perhaps it would be more fruitful to investigate its role in national educational policy, as its main activity at present appears to be using our children and families as fodder in a campaign to deepen divisions in the American polity. I'm happy to see the Virginia School Boards Association take the first steps to distance itself from the parent organization.
The future stature of the United States as a force for good in the world is dependent on the excellence of its educational system. Our educational system is dependent on the full participation of parents in the educational process, in collaboration with the dedicated teachers and administrators who make our schools work on a day-to-day basis. We need an aggressive, unifying campaign for full school choice with vouchers to parents for each school age child to attend the school deemed most suitable for the child’s needs by their parents.
Policies that promote these ends will terminate the dangerous politicization of curriculum content and destructive subsidiary efforts to divide us in this common goal.
August 24, 2021
Shouting matches, tears and overwhelming frustration dominated the Loudoun County School Board’s meeting on June 22. Sitting on the dais, I had a front-line view of the fundamental challenges facing our nation’s education system.
Before I was elected to the school board, Loudoun County Public Schools in early 2019 spent $400,000 on an “equity consultant” to analyze graduation rates and other data to determine how racist the school district was.
After breaking down the data by race, the consultant found tiny differences in the graduation rates of black high-school students and white ones. These gaps, often only 1 percentage point, weren’t statistically significant.
Yet the LCPS superintendent deemed them sufficient evidence to bring in other outside groups, which declared that Loudoun County was systemically racist, and that the administration needed to embrace critical race theory’s concept of equity.
Critical race theory’s proponents claim America’s entire social structure and fabric—you and me, our laws and rules—are irredeemably racist and must be dismantled. LCPS and school systems like it support CRT by recommending books and teaching resources.
According to one strongly recommended book, “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, “a positive white identity is an impossible goal. White identity is inherently racist; white people do not exist outside the system of white supremacy.”
This is a glimpse of what roughly 15,000 teachers are reading and using in their lesson plans for the estimated 85,000 students of Loudoun County.
While outside groups tell the school board that our curriculum and district are racist and we must atone for this history, many surveys and studies have found that teachers don’t want to talk about race in the classroom.
A survey released last month by the Association of American Educators, a nonunion trade group, found that less than half of members (44.7%) favor CRT being an option for educators, while only 11% believe CRT should be required or mandated. Yet the National Education Association has vowed to push for mandatory CRT curriculum in the classroom.
Parents also see the toxicity of CRT and don’t want it in schools. Elected officials’ obfuscation and inaction has driven frustrated parents to take charge through petitions to recall six of the nine members of the Loudoun County School Board for supporting the CRT curriculum.
If teachers and parents, the two most important groups in education, are uncomfortable with CRT, perhaps bureaucrats and elected officials should think seriously before proceeding.
Discussions of race and prejudice should begin at home with respect, honesty and kindness. Teachers can support parents by instilling these virtues.
Our children aren’t racist or prejudiced. They are just kids. They need formation and guidance. By treating others with respect, even those with whom we disagree, we will begin to heal our schools, our counties and our country.
Mr. Beatty is a member of the Loudoun County School Board.