Virginia state PTA getting creative over critical race theory battle

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

Not too long ago, we discussed the need for more parents and other community members to get more actively involved in their children’s education by running for positions on the school board or in the PTA. At the time, I was discussing a more general approach to curbing liberal indoctrination and orthodoxy in our school systems, but the current debates over critical race theory seem to be making it even more of a popular idea. It’s one that was taken up by the parents of many students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. A group of anti-CRT parents ran in the recent PTA elections and won a majority of the seats on the board.

Great news, right? Good to see them getting involved. Except this situation may not last for long. The Virginia state PTA board is threatening to overturn the election results and effectively disband that chapter of the PTA. Apparently, the state board members were not very happy with the results. (Free Beacon)

The Parent Teacher Association of Virginia sent a letter of intent to abolish the parent group of the nation’s top high school after a slate of candidates opposed to critical race theory won an election earlier this month.

The letter, sent to the Parent Teacher Student Association of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology on Wednesday, claims that the recently elected candidates skirted bylaws and created a “hostile environment” for members. This is the latest fallout between pro- and anti-critical race theory factions at the elite high school, which made headlines last fall after district officials abolished its entrance exam in an attempt to boost black and Hispanic enrollment.

The Virginia Parent Teacher Association would circumvent the results of the referendum on Fairfax County Public Schools if it decided to move forward with eliminating Thomas Jefferson’s parent board. Candidates opposed to Thomas Jefferson’s recent equity measures—such as the updated admissions process—won a majority on the association board.

Perhaps it’s just me, but isn’t the entire function of the Parent Teacher Association to keep parents involved in the education of their children and work with the school to do that? The system seemed to be working as intended, with the voices of a majority of the parents being heard and changes to education policies on the way. And then this happens. The state association is attempting to claim a previous election was in violation of state by-laws on some technicality.

The Virginia PTA seems to be pulling a 180-degree turn and switching from a bottom-up, grassroots approach to education to a top-down dictatorial approach. And “dictatorial” is precisely the word that the new association president, Harry Jackson (who is the first Black person to hold the seat at the school) chose to use.

“This is how they welcome this new diverse class, by taking away their support,” Jackson, who will be the first black man to serve as president-elect, told the Washington Free Beacon. “This is the most diverse class in history, and Virginia PTA takes out their support structures. It’s dictatorial.”

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is a magnet school intended to help gifted students make their way toward admission to elite colleges and universities. But like many other liberal, urban school districts around the country, the school board recently voted to do away with all admissions testing, intending to allow more Black and Hispanic students to be accepted. (They managed to block a lot of Asian students by doing that.) That decision already had many parents up in arms, but the addition of critical race theory programming was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It’s unclear what recourse remains for the newly-elected board members. What seems obvious here is that the state PTA is fully under the control of liberal activists and the members are willing to throw their muscle around to get their way. And if that means kicking a bunch of parents to the curb when they are clearly expressing a popular opinion in the district, then so be it. Perhaps the state board has forgotten what the “P” in PTA stands for.