Home Education Another Fairfax County School Board Member, Karen Corbett Sanders, Announces She Won’t...

Another Fairfax County School Board Member, Karen Corbett Sanders, Announces She Won’t Be Running for Reelection

Cites "angry and sometimes ugly rhetoric that we see in public discourse and on social media."

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Long-time Fairfax County School Board member (Mt. Vernon district) Karen Corbett Sanders announces that she won’t be running for reelection this year after serving for two terms. After an extremely eventful (and presumably stressful) past few years,  Corbett Sanders joins several other Fairfax County School Board members either retiring (Meghan McLaughlin, Elaine Tholen) or running for other offices (Laura Jane Cohen for House of Delegates, Stella Pekarsky for State Senate). I’ve also heard rumors that at-large member Karen Keys-Gamarra might run for House of Delegates, but there’s no official word on that one yet. Plus, others could lose in primaries. So the bottom line is that there are going to be a bunch of new faces on the Fairfax County School Board next year, the only questions being how many and who they are exactly!

A Special Message from Mount Vernon District Representative, Karen Corbett Sanders

Dear Mount Vernon Families,

Here in Mount Vernon, President’s Day is a time for reflection on our collective history and the future. We will be laying a wreath at both President Washington’s Grave and the Slave Memorial on Monday. This is always an inspirational event that recognizes the contributions to our nation’s birth by honoring both George Washington and the men and women who labored on the estate. After his second term as president, and a lifetime of service to his community, President Washington announced he would not run again, but would return home to his beloved farms of Mount Vernon.

After serving two terms in office, I am announcing that I will not be seeking a third term. It has been the honor of a lifetime to represent the students, families, and staff of Fairfax County on the School Board. When I ran for office in 2015, I ran on a platform of Equity in Excellence. A student’s zip code should not determine the educational opportunities available to them in Fairfax County. As an alum active in my children’s education as a parent volunteer, coach, and leader in PTAs, Girl Scouts, and Boosters, I believe public education is the greatest investment a community can make in its future.   As your representative, I worked each day, and will strive until the end of my term, to ensure that the FCPS Promise of an excellent education is realized at every school and for every child in Mount Vernon.

To realize the FCPS promise, we must continue to invest in a public school system that ensures every student has access to the opportunities that allow them to succeed, flourish, and contribute to our community as healthy adults. This includes investments in early childhood education, advanced academics, pathways to college, work force and career and technical education, and mental health. I have been happy to work with my colleagues to expand these opportunities during my time in office.

The past few years have not been easy as the country faced a once in a century pandemic. As a policy maker, I know that our decisions impacted our community in a multitude of ways. The national narrative has impacted our local schools, taken things out of context and amplified the negative rather than the positive. Issues that had been simmering for some time were exacerbated and resulted in the angry and sometimes ugly rhetoric that we see in public discourse and on social media. As we emerge from this difficult time, it is absolutely imperative that we listen, and not speak over, or de-humanize each other.  I encourage all of us to refocus our attention on how each of us can make a positive impact on our community and our children. If we do not work together to address the challenges our community faces, even when we may not agree on every aspect of an approach, the challenges we face with historic teacher and staff shortages, behavioral and mental health, and achievement gaps will continue to escalate.

On a positive note, the students in the Mount Vernon District are amazing! Their hard work results in Mount Vernon area students attending the best universities in the country and earning millions of scholarship dollars. Our classrooms today are more diverse, and our students have different needs than when I graduated from Groveton High School almost 45 years ago.  Over two hundred different languages are spoken in their homes, almost 35% of our students receive free and reduced meals, and almost 16% have IEPs. Our children embrace this diversity in inclusive classrooms working together on teams, in the performing arts and in classroom group projects. As a result, our students are positioned for future success in science, business, academia, the arts, the military, and in any way they can imagine.

Mount Vernon students are successful because of supportive families, a community that cares for all of our students, including those that face housing and food insecurity or arrived in our country recently, and the dedication of our teachers and administrators. I am inspired by the endless hours of volunteering, mentoring, and fundraising that our parents, teachers, coaches, and business community contribute as members of Parent Teacher Associations, Boosters, and as classroom volunteers. It is these partnerships between schools and parents that creates the environment where all can accomplish their potential. We know that if our children succeed, our community succeeds. Thank you for all that you do.

I hope that the Mount Vernon community will join me in supporting whoever follows me as your magisterial member of the school board. It is essential that your new representative is committed to public education, and able to collaborate with their colleagues on the school board, with our partners on the Board of Supervisors, with the legislators in Richmond, and our federal representatives.

All the best,

Karen

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