FAIRFAX COUNTY PARENTS ASSOCIATION, for the Sun Gazette
On April 14, the Fairfax County School Board decided by a vote of 9-3 to approve the hiring of a new school superintendent, Michelle Reid.
The Fairfax County Parents Association has been critical of the process used by the school system to determine our next superintendent because we have felt that it was an exclusionary effort.
From our perspective, the effort excluded parents from any group other than those who are politically aligned with the School Board – namely, the traditional captive parent groups such as the Virginia PTA. And with a School Board where only five of the 12 board members have children in the school system, we believed strongly that a broad swath of parent groups should have been included, or at least allowed to participate in the limited number of stakeholder meetings.
We understand that we as a group are not alone in this type of criticism, as it appears the process excluded many views.
The decision to hire Dr. Reid raises concerns, as the School Board has yet again demonstrated basically no interest in the pursuit of academic excellence in FCPS. Their only driving concern in hiring – by their own statements at the School Board meeting–appears to be whether a candidate met a vague threshold of supporting a version of “equity,” which in their parlance means mediocrity for all students, and not prioritizing academics or the special needs of so many students.
As parents, we strongly believe that access to a high-quality education is the key to social mobility and future success.
FCPS is desperately struggling to provide the world-class academics that students in our community need. Lowering the bar, lowest-common-denominator thinking and paralyzed leadership continue to fail many of our students in the long-term.
All too often, the school system and School Board come across as being less interested in actually addressing the problems – be they in academics, literacy, treatment of special-needs students or dealing with rising behavioral issues and crimes on school property – than they are with addressing the narrative around the problems.
This system has become far too focused on looking good versus being good.
The Fairfax County Parents Association hopes for the success of the new superintendent, though we believe that most parents apparently define success differently than the school system. Parents want to see improved test scores and learning loss addressed.
More importantly, we continue to hope for the success of our children as they are forced to navigate a school system that prioritizes making everything look good on paper, while students struggle academically and emotionally.