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Fairfax County’s public schools have codified a secret, discriminatory hierarchy

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is a contributor for the Washington Examiner, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, an author, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network. This piece originally appeared in Washington Examiner.

The terms “marginalized group” and “protected class” are being used to hold some students’ interests, access to resources, and safety above others in Fairfax County’s public schools.

Earlier this week, I requested information from Nardos King, the district’s chief equity officer, about the definitions and operationalization details for the broad terms. Her response left me with more questions.

On Wednesday, she sent me an email that read, “While we may not have an official definition for ‘marginalized group,’ it generally refers to people who face systemic disadvantages and discrimination. This can include women, underrepresented ethnic and racial groups, individuals based on gender identity and sexual orientation, people of various ages, individuals with physical disabilities, and non-native language speakers.”

The district’s Educational Equity Policy, passed by the school board in June 2023, uses the term “marginalization.” While King’s response specified whom the policy may include, it did not say which groups of students it does include. Given that this dichotomy of marginalized and nonmarginalized students is explicitly codified into local public policy, Fairfax County Public Schools should have a public document that specifies how it implements these terms into policy. Such a document would need to state explicitly which groups are marginalized — and which are not.

Of course, the reason such a document does not exist is because the school district deliberately overuses and abuses these terms for its political objectives. In 2021, for example, I emailed a school administrator to question why Black Lives Matter and transgender flags were being displayed in the engineering classroom of a middle school when both flags are arguably political. She responded, “FCPS does allow stickers/signs/posters, etc. that express support for traditionally marginalized groups which does include Black Lives Matter and Pride Flags.”

Assuming that black people constitute one of the marginalized groups according to the district’s unwritten definition, it is unclear how that would include Black Lives Matter, a socio-political movement, in part composed of many white people, that does not represent the viewpoint of all black people. Why is that flag allowed in a classroom when presumably Blue Lives Matter flags are not? This is a clear case of viewpoint discrimination obscurely codified in district policy under the sanctimonious banner of equity.

For clarification, I asked the district’s chief equity officer to explicitly identify which groups belong in the “marginalized” and “non-marginalized” categories. She did not respond before the publication of this article.

Notably, she is the person responsible for implementing the district’s bias incident reporting system, which is scheduled to go into effect in July. Will King create a threshold for reporting incidents of biases where only some groups count? If so, the district should at least tell parents which groups of our children it thinks matter and which do not.

Asian Americans, for example, are a minority, but not the right kind. Fairfax County Public Schools has been overt in its institutionalized discrimination against them in the admissions changes at the district’s magnet school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Presumably, Asian Americans did not make the cut for the “marginalized groups” list.

Are women marginalized in the education space, as King mentioned? They seem to represent the majority of teachers and well-paid administrators in our district, and they are overrepresented in colleges and graduate schools across the nation. To argue that women are disadvantaged in education is laughable — except maybe in terms of their privacy in school bathrooms and locker rooms, which district administrators willfully have violated with their so-called “inclusive” policies for transgender students.

The district policy on flag displays suggests that “gender-diverse” students are offered a special marginalized status. I guess if a student doesn’t make the cut on the other race, sexual orientation, or gender metrics — white, heterosexual males, in particular — district policy incentivizes the declaration of a non-binary gender identity. They wouldn’t need to commit to anything life-changing and they could still feel special and get better treatment from teachers and district officials with a simple statement.

Joking aside, we know that FCPS administrators are intentionally discriminating against some children on the basis of identity. It’s time for the district to make its social group hierarchy lists public. Who specifically gets special consideration and who does not?

Why are Fairfax County’s public schools trying to groom our children?

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is a contributor for the Washington Examiner, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, an author, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network. This piece originally appeared on Washington Examiner.

On May 9, Fairfax County’s school board held its regular meeting during which the board was scheduled to discuss the recommendations of its appointed Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee, or FLECAC.

Fairfax County’s school board members, however, skipped the vote on the committee’s recommended changes to Virginia’s largest school district’s sex education curriculum — and notably, not for the first time. The school board also refused to act last year when the leftist committee unanimously approved controversial recommendations during the 2022-23 school year shortly before a local election.

Before the November 2023 election, FLECAC advised Fairfax County’s 12 Democratic-endorsed school board members to consider changes to the sex education curriculum, to which the vast majority of parents objected. These recommendations included putting boys and girls together in sex education classes beginning in fourth grade, changing all terms “male/female” in the curriculum to “assigned male/female at birth” and gender identity instruction beginning in fourth grade.

In a survey meant to gauge the community’s reaction to these ridiculous recommendations, 84% of respondents objected. The district’s superintendent, Michelle Reid, responded to the survey at a public work session with dismissal. She said, “Honestly, the majority doesn’t always dictate, right?”

Nearly one year later, after its last 2023-2024 meeting in April, FLECAC submitted a new report requesting that school board members consider its recommendations from last year as well as a few new ones from this academic year.

One of the new recommendations is that children in fourth grade should be subjected to graphic descriptions and images of the genitalia and development of the opposite sex. The advisory committee, in a 9-6 vote, recommended the video “My Changing Life: Puberty for Girls and Boys.” The video contains information intended for both boys and girls about breast growth, menstruation, wet dreams, and erections.

Ultimately, FLECAC advises that our nine-year-olds learn about all of these mature and arguably age-inappropriate topics together in a shared-sex space. Most adults do not want to discuss topics such as nocturnal emissions and menstruation with the opposite sex. Why would we ask children to do this?

This year, the committee members also reiterated their commitment to teaching gender identity to children in elementary school. The report states, “The exclusion of gender identity at the elementary level does not create an environment that is open and accepting of all students or provide a safe space for students to learn about themselves and others.”

This is the reality: The school district intends to shape your children’s perceptions about gender ideology and potentially suggest experimentation, regardless of what the parents believe or think is suitable material in public education. And make no mistake: The only reason the school board has not officially adopted these recommendations is because they are waiting to do so when fewer people are paying attention. 

When Fairfax County’s school board arrived at FLECAC’s overreaching recommendations under new business during its meeting last week, the board’s chairman, Karl Frischsaid, “There will not be a vote on these items this evening. But action is scheduled at a future meeting.”

Frisch did not specify when the board would vote on these recommendations. The mystery surrounding the vote schedule likely is intentional because of the community’s previous rejection of the proposed recommendations. In the past, school board members seem to pass controversial agenda items in the summer months, when families are on vacation and less likely to be paying attention.

Why would our district’s school board members and administrators try to force gender ideology into primary school curriculum and sexualize our young children with images of the opposite sex’s genitalia and puberty journeys?

There is a word for this belligerent push for politicized and sexualized material in early education: grooming. We the parents must remain vigilant and protect our children from abusive government power — and worse.

Is Glenn Youngkin’s ‘Parents Matter’ Slogan Just A Politically Convenient Phrase?

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is a contributor for the Washington Examiner, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, an author, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network. Originally appeared in The Federalist.

“Parents matter” is a catchy phrase that seems to have gotten Gov. Glenn Youngkin, R-Va., elected in a tight race. Those who voted for Youngkin believe parents do matter. But has his tenure in office made it a reality so far?

On April 24, 2024, I reached out to Lisa Coons, Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction (appointed by Youngkin), regarding President Joe Biden’s absurd rewrite of Title IX. I asked Coons to join South Carolina’s Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver and Louisiana’s Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley in rejecting the unfair and arguably unconstitutional Title IX rules recently released by the U.S. Department of Education.

In my email, I explained the problems with Biden’s revision of Title IX — that conflating biological sex and gender has troubling consequences, particularly for children. Our daughters deserve private bathrooms and changing facilities. Women’s sports must be female-only for the sake of fairness. Federally mandating that our children use a person’s preferred pronouns is compelled speech and a violation of the First Amendment. And students in college who are accused of sexual assault deserve the right to due process.

On April 30, Attorney General Jason Miyares issued a press release indicating that Virginia would be joining “a six-state coalition in suing the federal Department of Education (DOE) to challenge its dangerous overhaul of Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act.”

Although I am thankful that Miyares is rightfully joining the multi-state lawsuit, I remain confused about the administration’s general lack of response to concerned parents. As of now, neither Coons, nor anyone from her office, has responded to my email. (As of publication, the Virginia Department of Education has not responded to a request for comment from The Federalist.)

Despite the silver lining in Miyares announcing action against the unjust revision of Title IX in his press release, this is not the first time parents have been otherwise ignored by the “parents matter” administration.

Symbolic Gestures from ‘Day One’

From “Day One,” Youngkin emphasized the importance of parental say in education matters. He introduced Executive Order One, which prohibited the teaching of divisive concepts in public schools. But he did not implement it in a way that made much difference.

There was an email address, for example, intended to collect information regarding public schools’ lessons on divisive concepts, such as critical race theory. I received no response to my concerns sent to that email address and, to my knowledge, neither did anyone else who submitted emails to that address.

I also wrote about divisive concepts taught to our children in Fairfax County public schools and questioned if Youngkin’s administration would act, to no avail. The Virginia governor’s executive order against divisive concepts in public education was essentially a symbolic gesture that lacked sufficient implementation mechanisms.

In Executive Order Two, the Youngkin administration said parents had the right to decide if their children wore masks to public schools. After the executive order was supposed to be in effect, my three sons — then in third, fifth, and seventh grades — went to school maskless with my written permission. Now, they have a cumulative 39 days of suspensions to show for their so-called maskless freedoms.

When I reached out to Youngkin’s administration for help, I was met with sympathy, but not action. Despite subsequent appeal to the school district, my sons’ suspensions remain on their records to this day — more than four years after lockdowns began.

Parental Rights in Excusing Children from Public Schools

In December 2023, I reached out to Coons, for the first time, about the absurd definition of “unexcused absence” in Virginia’s public schools. In the email, I explained that the Virginia Department of Education needs to change its definition, which currently grants the government power at the expense of parental rights.

It is not up to the school’s administration to determine whether it’s acceptable when a child misses school when the parent excuses him. If a parent excuses the child, whether it is for an illness or a sporting event, that should automatically make the absence excused. The reasons our children need to miss school are absolutely none of the school district’s business as long as we excuse the absence. Coons never responded.

I thought all of this might just be a Virginia issue — that perhaps with their silence, Youngkin and his appointees were simply pandering to a constituency less concerned about parental rights for future electoral gains. But last week, a father in a Republican district in Indiana, a Republican state, shared his experience with me. In his rural district, the school also has the right to decide whether his reason for excusing his children from school is acceptable to the school district’s administrators. The father was furious, just as we all should be.

The Indiana father’s experience made me wonder if we are the pawns of a panderverse. Political candidates throw us a “parents matter” bone in our busy lives. While we feel warm and fuzzy as we prepare meals and carpool our children to and from sporting events, some of us forget to follow up with what such a mantra might entail.

Parents are not pawns for political elites to take for granted. To our very core, we understand our importance in our children’s lives. What exactly are our politicians going to do to make sure that parents, and not the government, have the final say in raising our children? We want action, not just words.

Will the Left dare say that Chicago’s black voters ‘ain’t black’ if they vote for Trump?

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is a contributor for the Washington Examiner, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, an author, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network. Originally appeared on Washington Examiner.

Last week, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) toured the anti-Israel encampment at George Washington University. While he was answering questions, a protester, who was not black, shouted at him, “How much is AIPAC paying you, you race traitor?” The protester continued to call the black member of Congress a “bastard” and “Uncle Tom.”

In response, Donalds highlighted that some of the protesters were not college students. He incisively observed that the agitator, clearly middle-aged, is “really old to be in college.”

In fact, the leftist agitator spewing hate at Donalds likely was one of the many “outside agitators” who stirred up the student protests in the first place. For example, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Edward Caban said that of the 282 protesters arrested on campuses in New York City, 134 of them had no affiliation with the university.

Regardless, the anti-Israel, racist agitator joins many other non-black leftists, including President Joe Biden, who try to define black people in the mold of their own interests. In 2020, for example, Biden told black voters, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

I wonder if the president of the United States will tell the black Chicago voters who are infuriated by the city’s illegal immigrant crisis, which was caused by his own porous southern border policies and exacerbated by the city’s Democratic leadership, that they “ain’t black.” Or even worse, when black Chicagoans cast their votes for former President Donald Trump in November, will the hordes of leftists monopolizing the Democratic Party refer to them as “race traitors” or “Uncle Toms”?

But this time around, Democrats’ race-baiting is likely to fall on deaf ears.  

In the last year and a half, 35,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. Chicago’s residents are fed up with their resources being taken by illegal migrants.

In June 2023, for example, Chicago’s black residents fervently objected to the city council’s decision to allocate $51 million to house illegal migrants. Among them, a woman argued that the city needed to use its resources to care for its own citizens. She said, “We need to allocate some of this money for our black children, for the black community. We have not gotten anything for our community, and we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Enough is enough.” 

Chicago’s leadership appears to be ignoring its voters and has continued pouring the city’s resources into its illegal migrant crisis. 

Meanwhile, likely as a direct result of its migrant surge, the Chicago Police Department reported a 16% increase in crime and a 14% rise in homelessness in 2023. And many frustrated black residents now are vowing to “turn Chicago red.”

Earlier this year, after a resident criticized Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson for not listening to citizens regarding the city’s sanctuary status, she argued that Chicago needs political change. She said, “If the Democratic Party is not going to listen to us, if the Democratic Party is not going to stand up for the people that have supported this party, then it’s time for us to make a change.” 

It is time for a change indeed. At a Chicago City Council meeting earlier this year, one of the speakers summarized the situation well during public comment when he said, “All this asylum-seeking lie, all this about refugees — no, no, no. What’s happening is they’re emptying out the dregs of their jails into the United States and to our communities. They’re junking up our country. And yeah, we feel some kind of way about it because it’s our country.” 

It is our country — where all citizens should have a right to hold and project their own political opinions. Our nation’s black members of Congress shouldn’t need to worry about agitators publicly spewing racist hate at them because of their political positions. And black voters shouldn’t need to be concerned about Biden telling them they “ain’t black” when they cast their votes to improve their cities and country.

Officials ignore biases against Jewish students in Fairfax County Public Schools

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is a contributor for the Washington Examiner, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, an author, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network. This piece originally appeared on Washington Examiner.

Members of the Fairfax County School Board only seem to be concerned with students’ and teachers’ “inherent biases” when they are against pre-approved groups. It seems that Jewish students are not among them.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic incidents are increasing across the country. From 2022 to 2023, ADL reports a 135% increase in such incidents at K-12 schools, totaling 1,162 incidents nationwide. There were 23 reported antisemitic incidents in Fairfax County in 2023.

Fairfax County’s children have confirmed they are experiencing antisemitism at their public schools. Jewish students at Woodson High School, for example, reported to their parents after the Oct. 7, 2023, massacre that other students who are anti-Israel regularly say to them, “Why don’t you just go and die?”

A few miles down the road, during a meeting of the Muslim Students Association at Langley High School in November 2023, a student drew a flag with swastikas and the message “Free Palestine!” at its center. The student who drew the flag rightfully was suspended. But to almost everyone’s surprise, the student who alerted the community about the incident on social media was also suspended. The whistleblower’s suspension led many residents to speculate that the school district’s administrators were using the incident as a deterrent to prevent other students from speaking out against antisemitism.

In another incident last month, a Holocaust survivor came to speak to seventh-grade students at Cooper Middle School. In a move that is uncharacteristic for Fairfax County Public Schools, an administrator sent an email to parents alerting them that the lecture was not mandatory and offering them the ability to opt their children out of the Holocaust history lesson.

Given Fairfax County School Board members’ obsession with biases and the recent passing of its bias incident reporting system, you might think they would be more attentive to reported biases against Jewish children in public schools. But you would be wrong.

The district’s school board passed the bias incident reporting system to make sure that everyone is on the same page with the correct biases. There are certain social groups — I think Jews are among these — that many of our district administrators and most school board members believe we can and should harbor biases against.

I tested this hypothesis when I reported to a Fairfax County high school’s administration that a teacher held biases against white male students following grading irregularities.

After no investigation, I received word from a school administrator that despite the evidence provided, my claims were untrue. They did not explore the possibility that the teacher might have biases against white male students because they did not care.

Imagine if the student in question belonged to a different social group. There certainly would have been a more thorough investigation.

When the school emailed me their conclusions, I reached out to the school board to find out how to lodge a report of biases at the district level within their new, unconstitutional bias incident reporting system, which arguably violates the First Amendment.

On Jan. 25, Superintendent Michelle Reid responded, “There are currently a variety of ways in which to report bias concerns should that become necessary. I will check in with staff on the specifics of these reporting modalities and whether training has been developed or shared/implemented.”

I have not heard back from her yet.

Former school board member Abrar Omeish introduced the bias incident reporting system for the board’s consideration. It’s very unlikely that she was concerned about Jewish students when she did. Omeish is known for opposing a moment of silence for victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre, for her hostile and borderline antisemitic social media posts, and for campaigning to influence the way history is taught to students in Fairfax County Public Schools. People such as Omeish run for office to ensure that our children’s biases are the same as theirs — not to protect those whom they explicitly oppose.

Without a doubt, we should stand in solidarity to ensure the safety of Jewish children in Fairfax County’s Public Schools. As history has demonstrated again and again, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

It’s not surprising that Thomas Jefferson High School’s national ranking fell again

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is a contributor for the Washington Examiner, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, an author, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network. This piece originally appeared on Washington Examiner.

It is not surprising that Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, or TJ, has fallen again in the 2024 U.S. News World Report’s ranking of best public high schools.

This year, TJ is ranked 14th, down from 5th in 2023, and 1st for three years before that. Its premier ranking occurred when Fairfax County’s only magnet school’s admissions were based on merit, not on “equity.” With the last merit-based class graduating in June, we can expect to see the flagship institution wither away and disappear as it succumbs to its diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI, cancer.

TJ’s tragic downfall has become clear to the public in recent months. Earlier this year, for example, McLean High School’s quiz bowl team defeated the long-favored TJ team in the 2024 Virginia High School League Scholastic Bowl State Championship. This marks the first time in nine years that TJ has not won a title. With the change in TJ’s admissions and its continued rejection of merit, it is likely the school will be losing its competitive edge in scholastic competitions such as quiz bowl, robotics, and debate.

The STEM school also has had to begin offering its admitted freshmen remedial math. In fact, the school’s principal, Ann Bonitatibus, was so enthusiastic in her expectations that all of TJ’s freshmen would be proficient in Algebra 1 by the end of this academic year that she sent parents an email on March 1, 2024, to brag about it. Her message took many Fairfax County residents by surprise because students entering TJ under the previous, merit-based system had usually finished Algebra 1 by the end of seventh grade.

But that was before institutionalized racism against Asians and other “privileged” students became socially acceptable among the Left.

When Fairfax County School Board members and administrators, such as Bonitatibus, decided that Asians were doing too well academically, they changed the admissions standards to reduce their numbers to benefit other races in TJ’s admissions. It worked — along with the school’s decline in its national ranking, there are also significantly fewer students of Asian descent than there were before.

Before the admissions changes at TJ, I believed that the magnet school might be a good fit for my three sons. I began to question that when my eldest was rejected last year in favor of students who, apparently, are not yet proficient in Algebra 1. But as I witness the institutionalized racism against high-performing students, coupled with what is likely to be the school’s future continued nosedive in the national ranking, I think our designated neighborhood high school actually might be the better choice.

Looking at TJ’s decline, I am skeptical that Fairfax County School Board members were dumb enough to believe they could replace merit with equity in the admissions process without academic consequence. It makes me wonder if their intent all along was to destroy an institution designated for gifted education as a sacrifice to their DEI religion. If that was their goal, they seem to be achieving it.