What, you ask, could the Fairfax County School Board’s Republicans members have against affirming a resolution, passed unanimously by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this past Tuesday, which stated that the “School Board is committed to maintaining a safe, inclusive and welcoming learning environment for all children in our public school system and Fairfax County Public Schools values the richly diverse backgrounds of our students and families?” Is that the no-brainer of all no-brainers?
Well, apparently, not for the Fairfax County School Board’s Republican members (see video below), who tried as hard as they could to postpone a vote on simply affirming the bipartisan, unanimous County Board resolution. I’ll have a few comments after the video, but first check out the debate, in which Republicans Thomas Wilson (note: someone made a comment on Twitter which is a fair one, that Wilson here speaks about a different issue, immigration, than Schultz and Hough), Elizabeth Schultz and Jeanette Hough suddenly show a great concern for “process.”
First, it’s significant to note that, as my friend Josh Israel (see his speech at the end of the video) reported to me, “the audience was about 50 people in support of diversity and about 5 against it.”
Second, the Republicans’ sudden obsession with “process” reminds me of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Congressional Republicans, who were fine with running roughshod over the constitution in order to block Merrick Garland from even getting a vote, and who ranted/raved about how if President Obama struck Syria without Congressional authorization it would be illegal, yet now that Trump is president (god help us), all of that is irrelevant. Also, note that these same Fairfax School Board republicans didn’t object to librarians being honored, without a delay in order to allow for full community input, debate, etc. Gee, wonder why that is? Perhaps because honoring librarians isn’t a problem for them, whereas diversity is?
Third, as Democratic School Board member Pat Hynes, explains, while process is important, “sometimes you can adhere so closely and be such a stickler for process that it kind of flies in the face of common sense…also in this case risks having us look like we are divided and not supportive of something that our Board of Supervisors has done unanimously in support of the diversity in our schools; I think the statement that the Board of Supervisors made is kind of mom and apple pie, this is who we are…I don’t see the need to wait…to support a statement, we’re not even drafting anything.”
Fourth, Democratic School Board member Megan McLaughlin states that if this were a NEW statement, that would be a different story, but “for me to affirm what the [Board of] Supervisors have done, I don’t need two weeks…”
Fifth, School Board Chair Sandy Evans (D) explains that the Board had, indeed, followed its process, while Karen Corbett Sanders (D) says that “this is not new policy…or a new debate,” Dalia Palchik argues that “we have already waited too long for this” given fear among students in the age of Trump.
Sixth, Elizabeth Schultz (far-right R) basically argues – unintentionally no doubt – that if students are in fear (which of course many are) that the Board should actually do MORE to protect them. Of course, I’m sure she doesn’t get what she’s implying here. Now, I do actually agree with Schultz on one point, that it makes zero sense to have public comment on a resolution AFTER it has already been voted on. But that’s certainly no reason to postpone a vote on this resolution…get a grip.