Virginia’s Fairfax County School Board Prefers Progressivism to Parental Rights

by | Jul 13, 2023 | Fixing Education

A purple state has seen one of its largest county school boards take a hard left turn into indoctrination against parents’ wishes.

Despite Joe Biden’s double-digit win in 2020, Virginia remains a purple swing state following the backlash election of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin in 2021. The Fairfax County school board apparently didn’t get the message and continues enacting progressive policies, while issuing left-wing talking points better suited for New York City or San Francisco than the Old Dominion.

Earlier this month 84 percent of parents in Fairfax County rejected the idea of having co-ed sex education and gender ideology lessons in the classroom. The board defied these wishes with its superintendent stating, “the majority doesn’t always dictate” the outcome.

The poll regarding the co-ed curriculum—which would begin as early as the fourth grade—was based on 2,656 respondents.

Source: Washington Examiner

Not The First Time

In August 2021, it was reported that an attorney backed by mega-donor George Soros prevented a recall election for a Fairfax school board member, Elaine Tholen, after a parental group reached the signature threshold necessary to proceed.

Tholen fought to keep classrooms closed during the COVID-19 lockdowns and the parental group “Open Fairfax County Public Schools” argued she neglected her duties. Parents sought to retain their own attorney, but state law required them to plead their case with a Commonwealth [District] Attorney.

Originally, Steve Descano—who received $600,000 from Soros—was installed to oversee the case. After facing his own recall and being forced to recuse himself, Descano chose Democrat James Hingeley to replace him.

Hingeley campaigned alongside Tholen in 2019. When it came time to defend the recall petition against her, Hingeley sought to have it dismissed instead.

Hingeley received $5,000 in 2019 from the Soros-funded Justice and Safety PAC, which spent nearly $1 million supporting liberal candidates in Democratic primary races for prosecutor positions in Arlington and Fairfax.

In February 2023, Hingeley also faced criticism for letting a D.C. Metro killer go free. Local media noted that the killer’s release was likely linked to a $40,000 grant Hingeley received from Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

After surviving the recall attempt against her, Tholen announced she would not seek reelection and would serve out her term ending in December 2023.

Ironically, of all the profiles listed on the Fairfax school board website, Tholen’s page had the least amount of personal information. Yet other profiles spoke volumes about their personal and political agendas.

Soros Operatives on the Inside

Just before winning his election in 2021, Gov. Youngkin accused Soros of planting operatives within the state’s education system and claimed they’d infiltrated school boards, according to the Washington Post. He said:

The present chaos in our schools lays squarely at the feet of 40-year politician Terry McAuliffe. It just does . . .  But also at George Soros-backed allies, these allies that are in the left, liberal-progressive movement. They’ve inserted political operatives into our school system disguised as school boards.

After the comments were framed as anti-Semitic, Youngkin’s campaign spokesman at the time responded saying: “The millions of dollars that Soros gives to Virginia Democrats and PACs funds the efforts that elect school board members.”

The profiles of several board members do show a progressive tilt with a heavy focus on race, gender pronouns, diversity, and other social justice buzz words.

Rachna Sizemore Heizer begins her profile by identifying her pronouns as “she, hers, her,” before highlighting her goals of serving a “growing diverse population” along with teaching college classes based on “diversity and cultural competency in the workplace and American government.”

Karl Frisch also opens his profile by referencing his pronouns (“he/him/his”), writing that his number one accomplishment was “becoming the first openly LGBTQ person elected to local office in Virginia’s largest county.”

Frisch also admitted to previously being a political advocate for issues that included “consumer financial protection, land conservation, immigration reform . . .  [and] voting rights.”

Instead of focusing on parental rights, unity, or bouncing back from COVID-19, Frisch’s profile praised his efforts to “center equity and inclusion in all decisions.” It also listed his top priorities to “protect transgender students,” keep “immigrant families together,” rename “schools that honored the Confederacy, confront the climate crisis,” and fight for “collective bargaining” for unions. This from an elected member of a major school board.

Karen Keys-Gamarra’s profile states she works as an attorney to represent “the best interests of children from diverse backgrounds.” As for her “accomplishments and priorities,” she boasts that “advocating for equity and quality education issues”—not academic achievement—is paramount along with improving “inclusion practices” and “addressing discipline disparities.”

Laura Jane Cohen lists her proudest accomplishments as having been a “proud volunteer with Moms Demand Action,” a gun control group, and “serv[ing] on the Fairfax County Democratic Committee’s LGBTQ+ Committee [sic].”

Perhaps the most well-known board member is Abrar Omeish, who warned graduating high school students in 2021 they were entering an unjust capitalist world, fueled by white supremacy.

Omeish again made headlines earlier this year for expressing even more overtly anti-American sentiments. During a school board meeting in February, Omeish was discussing a Japanese day of remembrance for the World War II battle of Iwo Jima. She called it “unfortunate” and “evil,” saying:

Just a few days ago was Japanese Day of Remembrance . . . Something for us to certainly reflect on . . . the days when, you know, Iwo Jima unfortunately happened and set a record for really what, I hate to say, human evil is capable of.

The Battle of Iwo Jima—which lasted from Feb. 19 to March 26, 1945—was a major victory for Allied forces during the war. Nearly 7,000 American servicemen died capturing the strategic island from Imperial Japanese forces. Omeish tried to defend her comments in a statement but ended up circling back to claims of oppression because she is Muslim:

Our world is overwhelmed with need. We struggle with human greed, racism, extreme versions of individualism and capitalism, white supremacy, growing wealth gaps, disease, climate crisis, extreme poverty amid luxury and waste right next door. And the list goes on.

In 2021, Omeish was criticized for refusing to vote on a motion to commemorate 9/11 victims, saying:

I vote against this today, because our omission of these realities causes harm. We’re levitating a traumatic event without sufficient cultural competence. The token phrasing around 9/11 is ‘Never Forget.’ As a nation we remember a jarring event, no doubt, but we chose to forget, as this resolution does, the fear, the ostracization, and the collective blame felt by Arab Americans, American Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus and all brown or other individuals that have been mistaken for Muslims since that day over the past two decades.

Abrar Omeish.

In March, Omeish recommended curriculum for teachers that would oppose the use of terms like “radical Islamic terror,” “Islamic terrorists,” and “jihadists” when discussing the history of the 9/11 attacks.  

Later in that month it was discovered that Omeish had bragged in 2019 about using $3 billion in taxpayer funds to exert “Muslim power” to push Palestinian talking points in U.S. schools. Omeish’s remarks came during a September 2019 American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) fundraising event, right before the law student captured a seat on the Fairfax board. During her speech, Omeish said she’d instill a pro-Palestinian agenda into classroom books and curriculum and claimed she would use “big money” in the district’s budget to get it done:

I’m running for Fairfax County School Board at large. And I want to make the connection tonight between local politics . . . [and] the Palestinian issue . . .  These are conversations that start in the classrooms . . .  So, the Fairfax County School Board manages who knows how much money? . . . The Fairfax County School Board manages three billion dollars. That’s just one school board in Northern Virginia. That is over half of the Fairfax County budget, OK? We’re talking big money, and this gets funneled, the school board entirely makes the decisions on this . . . These are just examples of, again, power of us needing to be involved.

She added, “We need the Muslim community to turn out, because when we turn out . . . we are money, we’re votes, and that means power . . . And wallahi [swear to Allah], I cannot tell you how many times people talk . . . about the Muslim power. ‘Oh, Abrar’s got a community.’ ‘Abrar’s going to bring in all these people for the Democrats.’ Why? Because they saw us show up . . . and now we’re making decisions.”

“When we . . . stand as witnesses before Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala [Allah the most glorified, the most high] for justice on this Earth, as he commands us in the Qur’an, right? Where does that start?” she asked. “We can talk national level, but it’s right here, in our communities, next door. And we’re going to be accountable for that.”

Pushing CRT in Fairfax

In 2022 the Fairfax County School Board voted for a $500,000 increase to its already massive budget, embraced critical race theory—which teaches a false, ideologically driven history of the U.S. and encourages politically charged views—and pushed to eliminate objectivity requirements among teachers. 

Following backlash, the resolution to protect teachers who taught CRT was watered down, but still passed by a vote of 7–4.

In March 2023, the board faced backlash for trying to include a question on an AP social studies class exam, asking students: “Which of the following is an accurate comparison of liberals versus conservatives?”

The possible answers for “liberals” included “Young, white males;” “middle aged, urban lesbian;” “college-educated black male professional,” and “white, upper-middle class suburban male.”

The possible answers for “conservatives” included “East Coast, Ivy League-educated scientists;” “Southern male migrant laborer;” “Catholic, midwestern middle-aged male” and “West Coast, Hispanic teacher.” The school system ultimately removed the question from the curriculum.

In June 2023, the Fairfax board was hit with accusations of passing major policy items—including a pay raise—under the cover of darkness with meetings “shrouded in secrecy.”

Fairfax Democrats attempted to run interference for these efforts by flipping the script and accusing “right wing” entities of pushing an agenda “to destroy public education.”

Defeating Indoctrination

There are two ways parents and citizens can push back on such radicalized local school boards. First, is to investigate them.

Become a citizen-journalist and record all school related activities. Meetings, speeches, the classroom conduct of the teachers, and anything else that can be legally documented. Parents can even encourage more mature students to record school staff themselves on their cellphones.

Depending on school rules, this should be easy to accomplish as Virginia is a one-party consent state and does not require you to receive permission to record an instructor or lecturer. Then, take said recordings and share that content with other parents, educators, on social media sites and with law enforcement agents when applicable.

The other major form of pushback is to recruit candidates interested in promoting American values to run for seats on local boards, then organize frustrated parents to create a database of donors, volunteers, and testimonials geared towards balancing the scales back to normal.

The only question left to ask is, how long will it take for parents to rise up and match the money, power, and energy of this current movement aimed at warping our nation’s young minds and tearing down the image of the United States?