VA mom calculates time spent on topics at school board meetings, finds lack of academic focus

A concerned Fairfax County mother attempted to highlight the school district’s “lack of focus on academics” by calculating the amount of time spent in each of last year’s meetings and claimed that academics were least prioritized.

The parent, who wished to remain anonymous, became interested in watching school board meetings during the COVID-induced school lock downs when her kids had to undergo virtual school.

“They were never talking about how to get the schools open,” the mother told Fox News Digital. “They were talking about a lot of fluffy things and resolutions and recognitions and pet projects and things like that. And I was like, ‘Why are we not talking about getting kids back in school? What’s the plan? How are we going to do this?’”

The parent said she is a “long-time mom” since she parented public school students for over 15 years. She said one of her kids just graduated from high school.

“My son’s senior year was last year, and we knew that there were mental health issues, learning loss, and kids having a hard time. My son was a senior, but he kept coming home telling me that the freshman was having a hard time adjusting to school because basically, their entire middle school was virtual,” she said.

“So, I said you know what?” she continued. “I’m going to go back, and I’m going to look at the school board meetings, and I am going to record how many minutes they spend on different topics.”

The parent said that she “naively” expected parents to talk about education, academics, or learning loss in general. However, she was stunned to find out what was really being discussed.

She sent a chart to the Fairfax County Parent Association reflecting her observations of school board meetings during the 2021-22 school year to the Fairfax County Parents Association (FCPA). The FCPA is a parental rights organization that serves students in Fairfax County Public Schools.

The Fairfax County School Board passed a resolution on inclusive education at a meeting on Oct. 20, backing the teachers and staff’s push for “inclusive curriculum and instruction.” The resolution was amended from a previous version that included references to social justice, equity, and anti-racism.

The parent added that the board “exhausted so much energy and time” into resolutions.

“They spend time on resolutions and against the governor’s model policy, which is to ensure that parents are involved in their kids education,” she said.

“But we have kids who can’t read,” she added.

The Fairfax County School Board holds “regular business meetings” twice a month. According to their website, closed meetings are held only for consideration of certain students, personnel, property, and legal matters in accordance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

Fox News Digital reached out to the School Board Chair-At Large Representative Rachna Heizer to see if the observations were accurate. Heizer said that the chart is not a reflection of the board’s commitment to students’ academic success.

“While I am not privy to the data used to create this chart, so I cannot comment on the accuracy, my understanding is that it is only a chart of our regular business meetings. The board does the majority of its work during work sessions. Regular business meetings are designed for voting on actions; work sessions are where we spend significant time discussing a myriad of issues related to the education of our students, including academic success,” Heizer said.

“Work sessions are also open to the public and on our YouTube channel for the public to watch. All materials are publicly available. Board members also spend a significant amount of time visiting schools, talking with families, students, and educators, meeting individually with staff, and hearing from the community. This chart is not a reflection of the Board’s commitment to our students’ academic success. I am speaking as an individual Board member.”

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic’s toll on learning across the U.S. was recently revealed through national test scores that showed sharp declines in math and reading.

Math scores saw their largest decrease ever, while reading scores dropped to levels not seen since 1992 for fourth and eighth graders across the country, according to the Nation’s Report Card.

FCPA, which serves students in Fairfax County Public Schools, released a statement claiming that the situation in Virginia is “even more dire.”

“Fourth graders—greatly impacted in their formative educational years by consciously poor COVID school policies—saw an eleven-point drop in math scores, and a ten-point drop in reading scores, the largest declines in the nation,” the group said.

“Make no mistake, FCPS, the largest school system in the commonwealth, has ‘helped’ to drag us to this point.”

* Article from: Fox News