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A prominent journalist and author turned anti-indoctrination advocate is accusing leaders of the Fairfax County school district in Virginia of setting the ground for woke activists to begin pushing “anti-racist” ideology and critical race theory on students.
In an impassioned speech at Thursday’s school board meeting, Asra Nomani took issue with the district’s just-announced decision to change a policy that guides how controversial topics can be taught in schools. She called it “the one policy that parents have to defend their students from indoctrination and activism.”
“You have to just think for yourself, if you have to remove a policy like that, how can you possibly be doing anything good?” Nomani, a former writer for The Wall Street Journal, told the school board. Nomani is now the vice president of Parents Defending Education, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting classroom indoctrination and activist-driven agendas in schools.
Nomani also took issue with the district’s partnership with The Leadership Academy, a New York-based consulting firm that promotes “equity-focused leadership development” and “anti-racism.” The district signed a contract with the organization in March to provide “leadership development training,” and has already paid the group $48,500, according to documents on the Parents Defending Education website. According to a Parents Defending Education analysis of The Leadership Academy’s pricing schedule, the partnership could end up costing the district hundreds of thousands of dollars, and possibly millions of dollars in the coming years.
“These public schools, they have our kids held hostage,” Nomani said in an interview with National Review, adding that she believes district leaders and activists are involved in a “multi-year strategy to capture the hearts and minds of every single person in this school district. That’s hundreds of thousands of people, and that’s so scary.”
Nomani’s protest came after Superintendent Scott Brabrand announced earlier on Thursday that to realize its “vision of educational equity,” the district would be “revising the existing Controversial Issues Policy and developing a new Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Education Curriculum Policy.” The district’s current policy requires that controversial topics be addressed “as impartially and objectively as possible,” that “multiple perspectives” are offered, and that the school’s principal be informed when “there is doubt about the impact of a controversial issue.”
A spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Public Schools did not respond to an email with questions about how the district intends to adjust the controversial topics policy.
“There’s so many real-life problems that we’re facing, this is the last thing we all need,” Nomani said of the district’s effort to revise the controversial topics policy.
In his announcement, Braband asks parents and community members to take a survey, which appears to have been developed in partnership with The Leadership Academy. The survey asks parents where they stand on a variety of social justice topics, including: whether or not the district’s teaching methods “should offer students ways to take action against racial and social injustice,” if they believe the district’s curriculum “should teach students how to challenge power and privilege in society,” and whether the district’s teaching methods address race, “multiple identities,” and “identity-based bias as often as they should.”
Nomani previously battled Fairfax school leaders over their plans last year to get rid of testing requirements for admission at the highly-selective Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology where Nomani’s son is a senior. In the wake of last summer’s racial justice protests, district leaders decided the school was not diverse enough – more than 70 percent of the school’s students in 2019-20 were Asian.
“We were the wrong kind of minority,” said Nomani, who was born in India and moved to the United States when she was 4. “Their argument, like everywhere else, is unless you have outcomes proportionate to the demographics of the population, you’re racist.”
The school board, which agreed to get rid of the tests last fall, is now facing at least two lawsuits alleging anti-Asian discrimination.