Fairfax Spends More, Teaches Less

by Arthur Purves

(Editor’s note: Arthur Purves, president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, addressed the Fairfax County School Board on Feb. 13, 2024. His remarks, with updated numbers, are posted below.)

At church I get to ask students and parents around Vienna about our schools. The feedback is positive, and we appreciate your dedicated teachers and administrators.

However, as FCPS spending goes up, achievement goes down. Over the past 5 years, per-student cost has increased, from $16K to $21K, while SAT scores fell, from 1212 to 1181. Never in half a century have FCPS SAT scores seen such a precipitous decline.

Your crucial failure is in teaching minority students mastery of reading and arithmetic by third grade. Most of our crime is committed by individuals whom the public schools failed to teach reading. The fault is the curriculum and unaccountable administrators,not the students, their race, nor their families. Your budget does not even mention Equal Access to Literacy, which was supposed to replace whole word reading instruction with phonics.

Proposed county and school raises for next year would cost $367 million, including 6% raises for all school employees. This would increase the real estate tax rate 11 cents and increase the average real estate tax bill $818. This follows 7% raises last year and again this year, making 20% raises in three years. My retirement income decreased over the last three years. Yes, there is a recruitment problem due to decreasing birth rates, but the budget provides no evidence that teachers are leaving en masse for more pay. There should be a salary freeze until achievement, especially in third grade minority reading and arithmetic, increases.

The Market Scale Adjustment plus the Step Increase incentivizes mediocrity because excellent teachers are paid the same as okay teachers. You should adopt a single, merit-based raise.

Your goal is to prepare students to become not American citizens but global citizens. American citizens believe we get our rights from God and that government gets its powers from “we the people.” Global government is government of the billionaires, by the billionaires, and for the billionaires. Another term for global citizen is slave. Global government would control us through digital currency.

We oppose spending $3.8 billion to acclimate 180,000 students to tyranny.

Arthur Purves is  president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance.