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Wednesday, September 28, 2022
FairfaxOpinionEditorial: More catching on to crisis in school-system leadership

Editorial: More catching on to crisis in school-system leadership

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Consider, if you will, the following paragraph:

When an ideological agenda is prioritized over educational attainment – and is done as blatantly as it has been these past few years – one is it apt to wonder just who the pawns are, and what the chessmaster is after.

It is not from this editorial page of the Sun Gazette, although it well could be.

No, it is in fact borrowed from a recent, scathing editorial running in the Alexandria Times newspaper, which apparently has had enough of the shenanigans of the top leaders of that city’s derelict school system.

(For the record, we slightly amended the italicized paragraph to remove the Alexandria-specific references, but that does not change its overall thrust and flavor.)

What is the newspaper’s editorial-writing team PO’d about? A school system that by its estimation constantly underdelivers to its students, whether it’s by staying closed longer than the (far-too-long) closures of other districts during the pandemic; being unable to improve test scores whose levels remain embarrassingly low; or, recently, planning to eliminate the grading of homework (which even Arlington school officials backed away from after clumsily trying to sneak it past the public and teachers).

All of these items, and more, seem driven by an Alexandria School Board (and rotating band of superintendents) putting ideology ahead of common sense while constantly braying “equity, equity, equity” even as those who continue to be left behind are predominantly students of color and in the lower half of the economic strata.

After all, at the end of the day, well-to-do families can afford to circumvent public-school mediocrity through tutors, enrichment programs or departing it altogether for private schooling. Other parents do not have that luxury.

The Alexandria Times raises a valid point that should reverberate across all Northern Virginia jurisdictions, including Fairfax County: Who are the chessmasters orchestrating policies that, despite their professed intent of promoting achievement, actually have had, as is becoming abundantly evident, the reverse impact?

The good news: It appears the local media are beginning to catch up with what’s going on, and in pockets here and there have begun to call it out. And yes, such public pressure can have an impact. As the old saying goes, “when you’ve got them by the [redacted], their hearts and minds will follow.”

Let’s get these local School Board and superintendents by their redacteds, and keep a firm grip until we get the focus back where it belongs: student achievement.

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