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Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Editor’s NotebookEditor's Notebook: Masking battle takes another twist

Editor’s Notebook: Masking battle takes another twist

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Gonna be an interesting day this last day of February, as both Arlington Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools have promised to provide an update on their masking rules in the wake of Friday’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 180-degree switcheroo.

Per “the science” — if you want to take the CDC as the guidepost on that — it’s no longer necessary for people to wear masks indoors in areas on the low- and moderate-risk list. That includes all of Northern Virginia.

One could theorize that the response of school leaders here would be to say that, given the evolving science, it’ll henceforth be mask-optional. And that might happen. But I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it. Heck, I wouldn’t even bet a bottle of ranch dressing on it. Because I do like my ranch dressing.

Ball’s in your court, local school leaders. Of course, if you don’t “follow the science” by moving away from mask mandates, then that will serve as confirmation, as if any was needed, that your use of that term has been hypocritical all along.


Can’t wait to see what they say.

BAD DAY FOR FAIRFAX SCHOOL LEADERSHIP: It’s a curse being proved right all the time, but it seems we in Sun Gazette-land have been proved right now that a federal judge has overturned Fairfax County’s affirmative-action admissions policy for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology.

Apparently School Board members and staff were tripped up by their own e-mails and texts to one another, which helped to convince U.S. District Court Judge Claude Hilton that the policy change violated the U.S. Constitution. The judge ruled in favor of those challenging the current policy, which was enacted in 2020.

As anyone who followed this saga well knows (even those who will not admit it to themselves), the Fairfax school leaders were embarrassed that such a large percentage of students gaining admission to TJ through the competitive exam were Asian. So they cobbled together a new policy to try and change that.

Such a move sounds pretty discriminatory on its face, we said in multiple editorials over the years, and it seems the judge agreed.

No doubt Fairfax will spend more taxpayer dollars appealing this decision, rather than simply throw in the towel and resume the merit-based admissions policy. Either way, the court ruling is a black eye for the existing School Board members and superintendent, who threw their weight behind the admissions-policy change, only to see it go “kaboom” in their faces late last week.

Free advice to school leaders: Instead of defending to the last dollar your discriminatory (one could almost go as far to call it racist) policy, why not work to ensure that all students, starting in elementary school, have the chance for success, so that when time comes time for them to take the TJ entrance exam, all are on a relatively even footing?

Oops, forgot: “Achievement” is now a dirty word in public education.

  • Scott McCaffrey
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