The legacies of Thomas Jefferson, primary author of the Declaration of Independence, and George Mason, instrumental in adding the Bill of Rights to the Constitution won’t make students and staff feel safe and inspired.
They really tweeted that.
I thought I had already posted this minutes before my 6:oo PM ethics seminar via Zoom started three days ago, and somehow I didn’t. I left the post in a more or less “res ipsa loquitur” state, making no further commentary, and ending the misfired bloggery with “Anyone who needs to have what’s wrong with this explained to them doesn’t belong on an ethics blog anyway.”
That’s still true, but I can’t say the failure of the news media to cover the story can be justified on the same basis. It has been covered here locally, but not nationally. Why is that? Wouldn’t you say that the decision of a large, D.C. area school district in Virginia to rename public schools honoring prominent Founders from Virginia because their names won’t inspire students but rather make them feel “unsafe” instead is big deal? A bit alarming, mayhap? A metaphorical canary not only dying in the mine of the Land of Liberty, but a chorus of dead birds performing a production of Götterdämmerung, one might conclude?
The board vote over Zoom was 7-0 despite 56% of the district voting against the changes. If Zoom has the same effect on debate as its does on interaction in my seminars, the issues were not sufficiently vetted. The one pundit I could locate anywhere who commented on the move was Fox News’ Laura Ingram, who said, “I bet after seeing this, millions of Americans are appalled because they don’t really know, they aren’t thinking about how politicized education has become. It’s clear that children aren’t the concern. For these neo-Marxists that are running education, it’s all about remaking America.”
Now I bet most Americans aren’t appalled because they don’t know about it, and that’s intentional.
The Falls Church school superintendent issued a fatuous, “it isn’t what it is” screed defending the board’s decision. You can read it, if you have a strong stomach, here.
My general reaction is that any parent who allows their students to be educated by people supervised by a political hack capable of such an idiotic, dishonest and historically-warped justification deserves the offspring they’ll end up with. The superintendent anoints himself with character traits he obviously does not possess and values he doesn’t understand by saying,
When I arrived in FCCPS nearly four years ago, I shared with the staff, students, families, and community what my four pillars, or core values, were and continue to be. They are: Be innovative, Be collaborative, Be ethical, Ensure equity and excellence for all students. Being an ethical leader charged with ensuring equity and excellence for all students means that I must work to ensure that all students feel valued, are seen and treated as equals, regardless of their race, ethnicity, ability, gender, gender identity, social class, or creed. In collaboration with so many, including fellow educators, community leaders, and students, like the school board, I, too, have listened intently to and learned from those most impacted by the name change. To be sure, the issues are complex and multifaceted. But now is the time to hold space for our Black colleagues, students, and community members and affirm their dignity and calls to put our nation’s stain of slavery and human bondage in its proper place…
Ugh. You also have an obligation to be an educator, you politically-correct dummy, and that means teaching all students that the reasons we honor Jefferson, Mason and other Founders have nothing to do with their personal lives, and everything to do with their innovation, collaboration, ethics and courage in creating the only nation on earth dedicated to human rights and dignity. Their holding of slaves is no more relevant to their names being on Virginia buildings than Martin Luther King’s ugly misogyny can be called the reason he has a statue on the Mall.
Dr. Peter Noonan’s idiocy continues,
“Consider just one narrative here: Recently, the school board heard from a parent faced with a choice. Send her Black child to [Thomas Jefferson Elementary School], a public school named after the person who held her ancestors as property as an enslaved person, or to a private school she could ill afford. For her daughter’s well-being, she scraped together the funds and chose the private option. Empirical evidence suggests that if a student is uncomfortable or feels unsafe in their learning environment, that student is at a disadvantage in the learning process. We can no longer put our students, staff, and community members of color in a position where they feel unsafe or disadvantaged.”
Crap alert! The school was named after the person who plotted the mission statement for one of the most successful nations on earth, establishing the basis on which slavery was ended. Absent Jefferson, there is no United States of America. That parent is passing on her ignorant and race-obsessed paranoia to her child, and a competent school should intervene, not give its assent. Meanwhile, what “empirical” evidence shows that any child, anywhere, has had their education undermined by the name on their schools? Go ahead, you fake, show me the studies. (There aren’t any.)
When I wrote a Facebook post about the D.C. government’s exploration of dishonoring actions similar to what Fall Church has done, several friends and relatives who should be ashamed of themselves demonstrated that they had no idea who George Mason was. He’s only the man who may be the reason we have the rights of free speech, freedom of the press, freedom or religion, freedom from unjust searched and seizures and forced self-incrimination, among other benefits, that’s all. No reason to honor a man like that.
I fear that our citizens are too poorly educated to understand how wrong Falls Church’s decision is, and lack the tools to win what ought to be an easy debate.
Oh…I almost forgot to mention that the tweet above was pulled, even though it was and is accurate. Democracy Dies in Darkness, as the democracy-assaulting Washington Post hypocritically announces on its front page.
And that, in this case, appears to be the plan.