School Board meetings have become ground zero for the culture wars, so 4 Public Education is introducing a new blog covering Fairfax County School Board meetings called “School Board Matters” for 2023-24. It will include analysis and links to video, agenda, and votes that affect you and your student(s).
Where possible, we will provide links and primary source documents to support involvement in your student’s experience and education at FCPS. We hope this will provide a better access to and understanding of Fairfax County School Board, including their powers and duties, as governed by the Code of Virginia.
Fairfax County School Board Meeting, August 31, 2023
August 31, 2023 marked the first Fairfax County School Board meeting of the 2023-24 school year that began after the dedication of the Family Resource Library in honor of Dr. Larry Bussey, a civil rights powerhouse who was a founding member of the Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee and championed the re-examination of curriculum and improved outreach to parents.
The meeting was a doozy in terms of public comment. Seven speakers–including three confirmed parents, one candidate, and a grandfather who has sued FCPS–supported Youngkin’s anti-trans model policies, used dehumanizing anti-LGBTQIA rhetoric, spoke of grooming, and/or challenged transgender students’ civil rights. In one speech, a costume was involved. At least one of these speeches used ableist language that devalues those who have disabilities.
As a mom and active volunteer in FCPS and my church, I found these comments to be discriminatory and harmful to students. In fact, they made me weep. A fellow mom in the audience was upset to learn that her child had listened to these speeches, as she was waiting to speak.
In truth, the comments above were out of line with views in the United States where only 10% strongly oppose protecting transgender people from discrimination; however, these numbers are shifting dramatically in light of culture wars that use the transgender community as pawns. Additionally, these polls neglect to focus on the voices of those who are directly impacted by such discrimination: transgender students and their families.
In contrast, three parents and an FCPS alumnus spoke in support of transgender and non-binary students, rejected anti-trans rhetoric and bullying, and spoke of the need for inclusivity in FCPS for all students.
Attempts to create division and sow fear demonizing queer students and staff will fail because they are baseless.
It is important now more than ever to stand strong against weaponized politics aimed at our children.
Children in general have little to say in their day-to-day lives. Kids, like transgender kids, are even more vulnerable when attacked or demonized by adults who should know better.
- Public input from parents supporting transgender students
Other comments covered the need for increased executive functioning skills instruction in elementary school to help students with self-control, use of federal pandemic relief funds for Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), and a demand by an at-large school board candidate for an apology from the current school board regarding their efforts to protect children and teachers during the pandemic over two years ago.
The agenda of items discussed and voted upon by the School Board, include:
Strategic Plan Update and other Academic Matters from Superintendent Dr. Reid
The Board approved several Consent Agenda items, including Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee (FLECAC), Audit Committee Community Participant appointments, and other Advisory Committee appointments. School board committees are a great way for parents, guardians, students, and other Fairfax County citizens to be involved in and provide input to FCPS–apply today if you have relevant experience and there are openings.
In new business, they discussed the Challenged Materials Committee among other items.
The entire meeting ran for three hours from 7-10pm.