LCSB Thomas Jefferson HS vote

From left, Loudoun County School Board members Brenda Sheridan (Sterling District), Atoosa Reaser (Algonkian District), John Beatty (Catoctin District) and Beth Barts (Leesburg District) participate in the Jan. 14, 2020, vote.

Recently, I was asked to consider serving on LCPS’ equity committee. The committee’s representatives provided background information and reading materials to catch me up on the committee’s progress. It was very informative. Unfortunately, it was clear there is little room here for diverse opinions and perspectives because the committee has already chosen a partisan, progressive path and policy prescription. In doing so, it fails to embrace true diversity and encourage freedom of thought to help LCPS arrive at sensible solutions for our county and the students we should be serving. I will not be joining this committee.

In the initial welcome letter, the committee said, “The diversity of the group allows us to focus on the common goals of ensuring equitable outcomes.” This was the first red flag. Not everyone thinks that equity and outcome constitute the wisest approach. Many parents and people of goodwill believe equality and opportunity are the right, unifying principles that should be taught to our children to prepare and equip them to live in a world that does not guarantee equitable outcomes. Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, says, “Equity means treating Americans unequally to ensure that outcomes are equalized—the old tried (and failed) Marxian standard.” I don’t agree with everything that comes out of the Heritage Foundation, but I believe he’s right in this instance. Much ink has been spilled warning local, state and national government officials against adopting a Marxist approach toward public policy in education that seeks to force a biased outcome. It would have been wise to heed that advice. Instead, LCPS has chosen to adopt an extreme equity and outcomes agenda based on Marxist values and not Main Street values.

Embracing diverse opinions from LCPS parents and citizens would have greatly informed LCPS’ policy goal to improve how administrators pursue increased equality and opportunity for students in Loudoun County. Many LCPS parents do not think that dictating outcomes increases opportunities in fair and just ways. For example, LCPS has adopted dictating enrollment outcomes as a strategic goal in its LCPS Gifted Program. Every year, LCPS seeks to increase enrollment in the EDGE, Propel and Level-Up programs by 10% and expand access to schools with the highest enrollment of so-called underrepresented groups in the LCPS Gifted Program; you seek to increase enrollment in gifted programs that do not limit any student from joining based on race. Currently, in the Academies of Loudoun, you report 47% Asian, 35% White, 20% Hispanic, and 5% Black students. These students should not be identified by race. Their exceptional talent should identify them. Making the goal to affect that statistic is precisely the kind of wrongheaded approach the voters in Loudoun are growing tired of. How far is LCPS willing to go to impact statistics based solely on students’ racial makeups? Is LCPS ready to lower the standards and undermine grading practices to achieve the “outcome” they seek?

We can all agree that we need to protect against all forms of prejudice, but equality and opportunity should be our goal. We’re not strangers to discrimination in our home because we happen to be White Americans living in Loudoun County. I’m Catholic, and during the founding of this country, Catholics were not allowed to hold elected office, vote, or serve as lawyers. As an Air Force ROTC student at the University of Oklahoma, I was spat on while walking in my uniform past an anti-war rally on our campus. My commander taught me the wisdom of walking away when I wanted to do the opposite. I’m raising two daughters I expect will experience discrimination and sexism in the workplace, but I’m teaching them not to adopt a victim mindset. Instead, I’m teaching them to adopt a warrior mindset to fight discrimination and never allow themselves to be defined by how people mistreat them. My wife and I are raising a child with special needs attending LCPS. We fight for resources for him and those like him who need therapy and care but were historically institutionalized and disenfranchised in this country. The outstanding administrators and teachers at Kenneth Culbert Elementary and throughout LCPS deserve a shoutout for their excellent work with special needs children, from our experience—when our schools are open.

I’m not about to call for some “Kumbaya” moment where Democrats and Republicans come together. The current national leadership of both parties appears committed to doing nothing in that regard. However, more needs to be done at the state and local levels to break the cycle of political violence that reigns in our republic. We’ve got to stop the broad pendulum shifts that occur when one party gains power, seeks no meaningful consensus with their opposition counterparts, and then rams through an agenda that appeals to their special-interest handlers. We need leadership to stake out a position and work with the other side to reach consensus, with both walking away having compromised but gaining something meaningful in the collaboration process. It’s our only way back from the edge of this cliff. LCPS and its leadership are doing precisely the opposite. They seek no meaningful input from alternative perspectives on equity, equality, outcomes, and opportunities. Their only goal is submission to their equity and outcomes agenda.

Discrimination exists everywhere humans do, in all forms. We cannot and should not lie to our children by telling them that we can reliably force equitable outcomes for them. We should instead combat prejudice in all its forms with our current laws while increasing our focus on the unifying principles of equality and opportunity for all students, regardless of their skin color. Leveling the playing field so children have equal opportunity is the wisest approach to ensuring our children enjoy security, liberty, and prosperity in Loudoun County, Virginia and America.

Scott Goodspeed has lived in Loudoun County for 10 years. He is the executive director of The First Citizen, a new nonprofit organization .focused on security, liberty and prosperity.

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