Fairfax County Public Schools are some of the most “progressive schools” in the nation if you ask their teachers and students. It doesn’t seem that way if you’re on the outside looking in, especially since the town of Clifton is represented by Republicans in Congress and the House of Delegates.
Centreville High School, one of the most “affluent” public schools in the country at one point in time, has a student population which is around 50-60% minority in race in ethnicity, an indication of the growing immigrant population from Asia, South America, and the Middle East. The faculty and administration have always done what they could to ensure that the “progressive environment” which many of my teachers referred to it as, stayed intact.
When students showed up with tape on their mouth to stand in solidarity with closeted-homosexual students, faculty were instructed to respect the students. During Ramadan, students had a specific section of the schooled dedicated for prayer during the day. Head scarves worn by Muslim students were called “beautiful” and “liberating” by teachers. Wear a cross on your neck or say “Merry Christmas” or mention anything regarding your Christian faith was seen as “closed minded” and “potentially offensive” even in the most innocent of passing conversations, as told to me by several teachers, guidance counselors, and vice principals. I wasn’t even very religious in High School but Christianity was associated with my cultural identity therefore the school administration had to make a example of me and numerous others.
A prominent AP teacher in the school went as far as to say “when you are in this school, we are your parents. Neither you or your parents have rights that can surpass ours because we know what is best for you.” I was 17 when I heard that and even I knew that was incredibly screwed up.
The faculty all showed up voluntarily when President Obama used the school for a Saturday rally during the 2012 election and boasted of photos and exaggerated conversations with the President, but God forbid you showed up with a Mitt Romney t-shirt and a student threatened to stab you in the throat, because according to certain faculty “you should have seen that coming” and, get this, they immediately jump to victim shaming.
The worst part of this “progressive environment” wasn’t even their actions, it was their inability to act when students, teachers, and parents needed them to. In 2010, my Freshman year, a “kill list” was written in Sharpie in one of the bathroom stalls with a list of students who the potential killer said were going to be killed. Even after students reported this list to the School Resource Officer and one of the Vice Principals, this list wasn’t even removed by a janitor for another week. That meant it was out in the open for other students and potential victims to see for a full week.
Eventually, the student was identified who wrote that list. It was a Korean-American student who had a history of violence, verbal abuse of teachers and students, and was known for behavior most would deem socially unacceptable at minimum. She wasn’t suspended, disciplined, or even obligated to apologize to the students she threatened. The school was so nervous about another potential “Korean shooter” several years after the Virginia Tech shooter (who attended Centreville High School for a year and later graduated from Westfield High School), they crafted this obviously phony narrative that this student had heard the list from eavesdropping on another conversation, and felt the only way to get the word out was to write that she was going to kill a list of students on a bathroom stall wall instead of alerting the police or faculty.
Even if that is true, no students were investigated, charged, or arrested at any point, and she continued her delinquent behavior until she graduated in 2013. The school was so paranoid about having its reputation get words like “racist” or “paranoid” thrown at them that they refused to take any action. The only reason something terrible didn’t happen was because it was either a sick cry for attention in the first place or because she had been caught.
One teacher however did have the nerve to at least discuss the issue that had made the school incredibly nervous, reiterating the loose story of the student “trying to warn people” but then following it up with “she’s an AP student and has a tremendous GPA.” Why add that last part? What does how book smart she is matter when she could have potentially killed a bunch of students in the school?
This is just a guess, but maybe the school was worried that if the Korean community caught wind of what was happening and felt Korean students were being unfairly targeted, they would pull their kids out of FCPS, which would (lets face it) bring down the test scores for SAT/ACT, SOLs, and AP exams exponentially. If that is true, that is even more offensive because that would imply the school was more worried about its state and federal funding than the safety of its own students.
Not everyone who was a minority was deemed a protected class by the progressive faculty. If you were a latino or black student, you couldn’t look at a teacher crosseyed without getting the maximum penalty. in 2012 there was a fight between several white girls that broke out because one called the other a “whore” (both girl’s fathers played golf with the principal at the time) and at one point during their fight, one girl grabbed the weave of a black student that walked by and she was pulled into the fight unwillingly. Without even hearing the black girl’s side, she was placed on temporary suspension while the two white girls got a slap on the wrist. When the black girl’s parents got involved and several other witness testimonies verified what happened, the black girl was allowed to come back to school. The one girl whose dad didn’t get to play golf with the principal that weekend was so embarrassed she had been caught in a lie, she transferred to Westfield.
The point I’m trying to make is that our public school system carries more blame in these situations then anyone ever gives them because going after teachers or a public school is extremely social dangerous. Some schools are so obsessed with protecting a reputation based on lies and false appearances that they will do anything and everything possible to actually be fair or take responsibility for anything.
Allow teachers to carry guns in class, treat all students fairly, and do your damn jobs.
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