School Board Amends Title of Equity Policy — Why?

On June 26, 2023, the Fairfax County School Board adopted a new, sweeping “Equity Policy.”  At its next meeting, on July 13, the title was changed.  It is now called the “Educational Equity Policy.”  The amendment was on the meeting’s “consent agenda” and was adopted without any discussion, so the public doesn’t know who proposed it or why.

The amendment was listed as “technical,” which was intended to suggest it has no substantive meaning.   But is there a difference between an Equity Policy and an Educational Equity Policy?  Is a hidden agenda involved?

Perhaps I’m unnecessarily skeptical.  But if I’ve become cynical, it’s because of the way the School Board and the FCPS administration have acted.  Transparency, candor and inclusiveness have not been among the school system’s guiding principles.  The Equity Policy was adopted with plenty of input from the FCPS equity team’s “stakeholders” (groups that favor an expansive scope of “equity”) but with minimal participation by, or notice to, the general public, despite promises that every point of view would be an integrally involved at every stage.  It was sold to the public with reassuring rhetoric but was written to authorize controversial programs under the “equity” umbrella.

So please excuse my paranoia if I’m suspicious of a substantive reason for last night’s amendment.  Education is supposed to be the only function of the school system, so one would think it isn’t necessary to distinguish between an Equity Policy and an Educational Equity Policy.  But someone obviously thought it was necessary to do so.

Perhaps it’s this:  In the late-stage editing of the policy, the definition of “equity” was tweaked to focus primarily on providing educational opportunities to all students and removing barriers to learning, i.e., education.  But that isn’t the full scope of the agenda of many “equity” warriors.  To them, “equity” includes controversial, ideology-driven measures, going well beyond opening opportunities and removing barriers.  For example, influential writers like Ibram Kendi, who has been embraced by many in the FCPS system, contend that “equity” means ensuring equal outcomes for all and evaluating some minority groups by different standards than are applied to others.  It also means non-education-focused measures such as promoting the “rights” of a biological, transgender male over the locker-ro0m privacy rights of girls.

So, it may be that the purpose of the July 13 amendment is to permit the “equity” mavens to say that the recently adopted policy is only an educational equity policy and not a limitation on other, broader “equity” programs.  We will see.

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  1. Eric Rozenman on July 14, 2023 at 10:59 am

    So long as “equity” — always vaguely defined to be elastically applied to promote ideological ends — displaces equality, equality of educational opportunity for each individual student regardless of collective group identity, it will undermine instruction for academic excellence. “Ensuring equal outcomes” by identity groups, as opposed to equal opportunity for individuals — focusing on the starting line, not the finish line — is profoundly anti-American. It also obviously contradicts nature, each individual having different talents, traits and abilities. Healthy societies profit from the liberty to exercise those differences, not suppress or discriminate against them. According to the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Right, rights inhere to individuals, not privileged classes. “Equity” requires discrimination against some students on grounds of their group identities and in favor of others on the same grounds. It should be as illegal in Fairfax County Public Schools as the U.S. Supreme Court recently found it is at Harvard and North Carolina universities.

    • Mark Spooner on July 14, 2023 at 11:12 am

      Eric: Thanks for your comment!

  2. Rich Altmaier on July 14, 2023 at 11:32 am

    My public comment at the July 13 meeting:

    Considering the Equity Policy and its hard-to-understand word salad, I propose the following Equity Guidance for all teachers to be sent from FCSB:

    Do not teach our children: An individual, by virtue of their race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex. Do teach our children: We are all working to improve the world. The best way for you to do that is to learn the material in this class well.

    Do not teach our children: An individual should be discriminated against because of the individual’s race. Do teach our children: All children are created equal. Help your classmates to understand the lessons and ace the tests. All can study hard, do their homework, and achieve greatness.

    Do not teach our children: An individual, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously. Do teach our children: Study hard, help your classmates learn, and become a strong upstanding citizen.

    Do not teach: One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex. Do teach: Grit and determination determine the child’s results. We know that all children of all races can achieve, and further that teachers can inspire the children.

    Do not teach a child that they can change their sex, despite a child wishing to run faster, jump higher, or dance more gracefully,
    rather maintain and protect each child’s bodily integrity.

    Finally no teacher is to act cowardly and hide their actions in the Equity Policy, no matter how word salad it is. Rather, each teacher is to stand up and say what they will do.

    • Mark Spooner on July 14, 2023 at 11:41 am

      Rich: Excellent suggestions. I’m sure you know, however, that they won’t be adopted. The “equity” warriors are intent on teaching “systemic racism,” “privilege,” “victimhood,” etc.

  3. Rich Altmaier on July 14, 2023 at 11:54 am

    Nevertheless, principled positions must be put forward.
    Perhaps someday an equity warrior will actually say which of the points they oppose…

    • Mark Spooner on July 14, 2023 at 12:12 pm

      Rich: I agree. When the Equity Policy was being developed, I wrote a couple of letters to FCPS, suggesting that, among other things, the policy should include a list, similar to yours, making clear that the policy did not embrace various things. Needless to say, they ignored my suggestion, the reason being that they wanted to have a vague, open-ended policy that would allow them to do whatever they wanted to do under the umbrella of “equity.”

  4. Christine on July 14, 2023 at 12:59 pm

    Thanks again Mark for a fantastic article!!!

    Thank you again for all you do!!

    You are a beacon of light in the FCPS storm!! Thanks for navigating the “lucid ship’ to keep parents and grandparents, family members and friends with a clear sense of direction in the midst of this superstorm!

  5. James on July 14, 2023 at 2:24 pm

    FCPS Board has run off the rail. Time for change. Poor teachers have to put up with this malarkey.

  6. gino marchetti on July 14, 2023 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks to all of you.

  7. Geoffrey Akey on July 16, 2023 at 7:10 am

    Thanks Mark. I am an optimist, in that the more this ideology is confronted by Fairfax citizens, the more Fairfax citizens will see the light. This is imperative. There is ONLY neo-Comintern motives and tactics behind such deception, politicization, and divisiveness.

    That there are options to public schooling is a key path to excellence in education. While we need to protect the under-served from these policies, we need to grow the number of families who have trust and confidence in “home schooling” methods. They will lead the “under-served” in to this path to educational excellence. In this method, kids get through their daily curriculum in one third of the time that a 28 child per classroom accomplishes. And with more uniform enthusiasm for the subject matter.

  8. Emilio Jaksetic on July 16, 2023 at 11:19 am

    The June 21, 2023 Work Session of the School Board contains extensive discussion about the relationship of the School Board Equity Policy to the One Fairfax Policy. A video of that Work Session can be found at
    The extended discussion at the Work Session (1) sheds some light and insight on how the various members of the School Board view the relationship, and (2) may suggest some reasons why the School Board later amended the title of its Equity Policy to Educational Equity Policy.