Over the past week, I've been texting and calling voters about the School Board Caucus. Among the many gratifying messages of support are a fair number of messages that are highly critical of my progressive positions.
These voters feel I should be "kept far away from schools and any elected role" because I will "indoctrinate" students with "anti-American propaganda."
The "propaganda" in question is my belief that we have a moral obligation to ensure that ALL students feel safe, welcomed, and valued in their schools, no matter their race, religion, immigration status, gender, sexual orientation, or any other aspect of their identity.
Yes--I believe that systemic racism is a real thing and that our students need to know how to understand, navigate, and improve a world that's been structured by racial division. That's why I have unequivocally called for the removal of SROs from schools and it's why I continue to push the Virginia High School League to adopt explicit anti-racist policies and penalties following the Wakefield-Marshall incident earlier this year.
Yes--I believe that our LGBTQ students deserve safety and respect from their peers and adults. When my sister came out as gay during high school in the 1980s, there were no groups for gay students in schools and no official acknowledgement that LGBTQ students even existed. I now have a trans nephew who has been able to make his journey with the support of my phenomenal stepsister, other adults, and his friends. I am proud to support queer families like this one in our community.
Yes--I believe that ableism is a real thing in our community and society at large. Who can forget President Trump's overt mocking of a disabled reporter five years ago? That's why I called on the School Board to hold APS staff accountable last year when not one, but two new school buildings opened without the necessary safety and accessibility measures required by the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Yes--I believe in religious freedom. It's why I applaud APS's decision to change the school calendar starting next August so that we recognize and respect a range of religious holidays, including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Diwali, and Eid Al-fitr alongside Christian holidays.
Public education isn't perfect--we still have a ways to go in order to ensure that all students feel safe, welcomed, and valued in our nation's classrooms. But across the country, and even in progressive Arlington, there's a strong push to turn back the clock and erase the progress we've made.
We have an obligation to every child. Every. Child.
I hope you will join me in standing with all students and cast your ballot this weekend.