Combating the Great Awokening

Read about woke math in National Review.

by James A. Bacon

Outside of the People’s Republic of Charlottesville, Northern Virginia is the most lopsidedly Democratic region of Virginia. It is also the most woke, and it is pushing the so-called “equity” agenda in schools more aggressively than anywhere else in the state. But the educrats have over-reached, pushing too far, too fast, and much of the population is up in arms. Insurgent groups are popping up over Northern Virginia, mobilizing support through social media, raising money to take back school boards, and using investigative-journalism techniques to delve into topics that local media refuse to cover.

The Washington Post has covered the Great Awokening in Northern Virginia schools only anecdotally. The region’s dominant newspaper has devoted none of its investigative resources to probing school board machinations and excesses as it has with, say, racism at the Virginia Military Institute. Citizens have been on their own to figure out what is going on.

Fortunately, one of those citizens is Asra Nomani, a parent of a student at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology who became outraged by the Fairfax School system’s equity-driven assault on the school’s admissions practices. A former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, she fought back with the tactics she knew. Linking up with other super-savvy Northern Virginia moms to create Parents Defending Education (see the leadership team here) the India-born Nomani has wielded the Freedom of Information Act like a Gurkha kukri to hack out the story that the mainstream media has been unable or unwilling to tell.

Bacon’s Rebellion has been reporting on bits and pieces of this story, but Nomani and co-author Elizabeth Schultz, a former deputy director in the U.S. Department of Education and former Fairfax County School Board member, have woven the threads together in a coherent tapestry. You can read the complete details in Newsweek. Here follows a summary of the highlights.

Elected in 2019, Fairfax County’s 12 school board members, all endorsed by the Democratic Party, took office on January 1, 2020. Just days later, at their first board meeting, they declared they would battle “hate and bias in our curriculum.”

Most visibly, the school board undertook to rectify the racial imbalance at the Thomas Jefferson High School, where roughly 70% of the student body was of Asian racial background and most of the rest were white. This meant dismantling the process that admitted the high scorers of merit-based tests and adopting a new formula that would guarantee more Blacks and Hispanics. Rather than abandon merit-based criteria, responded unhappy parents, Fairfax schools should do a better job of educating poor minorities in early grades.

But the battle over TJ was the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface, a vast bureaucratic machinery was working to implement radical Critical Race Theory under the benign term “diversity, equity & inclusion” throughout the entire school system. Two months after the new school board took power, the FCPS Office of Procurement staff issued a sweeping “Request for Proposals” for “Leadership Development Training” with a longer-term goal of providing “training” for all employees over time.

Write Nomani and Schultz:

In December, we have learned, the board’s Governance Committee quietly met to discuss ditching the [Controversial Issues Policy] policy so teachers can get around requirements that they “remain impartial” on controversial issues, and instead—with the change—”take a clear position” on “matters of contemporary controversy,” as part of a new “Anti-Racism and Anti-Bias Education Policy.” The recommendations included hiring a list of consultants, including Leadership Academy and The Equity Collaborative (known for high-priced consulting in neighboring Loudoun County), and issuing a “Letter of Reckoning with Racism.”

On Thursday, parents in Fairfax County, Va., one of the country’s largest school districts, got a disturbing email. Superintendent Scott Brabrand said he is “revising” the district’s [issues policy]” which protects students from biased teaching, and developing a new “Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Education Curriculum Policy.”

As part of a “key strategy to achieve educational equity,” Brabrand said he is gathering “input” to “support more inclusive and equitable curriculum policies.” The survey asked parents loaded questions, such as whether they agree “anti-racist” and “anti-biased” curricula would best “support” students. It asked if they agree that the school district should “teach students how to challenge power and privilege in society.” And its many questions baited parents to spell out how important it is for staff to “discuss topics of race, racism, identity, bias” with students.

The survey, assert Nomani and Schultz, was just a pretense.

On March 11, Fairfax schools finalized a contract with the co-creators of the survey — the Leadership Academy, a New York consulting firm. The agreement’s “Pricing Schedule” laid out a four-year re-education plan to improve the “cultural competencies” of all FCPS employees. If the school district purchased the bare minimum on this shopping list, the tab would be $702,700. In actuality, the price tag could run into the millions of dollars.

The Fairfax County school district says it wants to “create a culturally responsive school system,” “learn to audit curriculum with a culturally responsive lens” and engage in “strengthening reflective practice and sustaining leadership growth” with “explicit emphasis on racial equity in coaching conversations.” That all may sound well and good to many parents, but the district has opted for a procurement vehicle that has no cost ceiling. The award creates a flow of taxpayer dollars that will deeply embed the indoctrination in our schools, if we, as citizens of conscience, don’t stop this poisonous ideological reeducation.

Similar initiatives are taking place in other localities around Virginia, not just Northern Virginia, but local media just aren’t reporting it. Parents Defending Schools is tracking the woke movement around the country and reaching out to local citizen groups. Find out more here.