Equity: One Issue Fairfax County Public Schools Could Focus On

Public education is first and foremost, for the common good. Schools matter to all of us. But achieving the common good requires equity. It is only in a diverse and inclusive community can we truly achieve equity. Thus, in this coming election of members for the board of Fairfax County Public Schools, one issue could easily sum up a campaign for any candidate: Advancing equity in our schools. I think this can cover all the challenges the county currently faces. We must provide excellent opportunities for learning to all children regardless of family income, parent educational attainment, race, and gender. Anything less than equal opportunities is unacceptable. Hindrances to equity unfortunately abound for it is only expected that each and everyone of us to have the knee-jerk reaction of "What about us?" Thus, in some ironic fashion, pushing for equity can divide us.

The politics of division is especially useful in a democratic society where the majority wins and lands in control. A shrewd politician can win by dividing society and simply ensuring that the larger fraction is on his or her side. Divisions can be easily spawned by appealing to our beliefs and prejudices. Divisions can be created by simply appealing to how we identify ourselves. A school board candidate in my district subscribes to this playbook. The Annandale Blog describes Tom Pafford as "laser-focused on one issue".

Above copied from the Annandale Blog

If Tom Pafford is running for a position in my native country, the Philippines, he may actually win. The Philippines is also trying to legislate on matters that involve gender identity. In these discussions, the question of whether bathrooms should be assigned according to gender identity also shows up. There is always this concern that privacy can be violated or sexual assault could happen. Toilets inside schools, I hope, have stalls so there is really no problem with privacy and those that do not have separate stalls are for urinals. And for assault, the transgender already has the greater risk especially with an extremely prejudicial society. Therefore, the arguments against transgenders having the right to use the toilet of their choice really have no basis.

Equity trumps this issue. It is clear that every children regardless of gender identity should be provided an environment that is respectful and safe so that every child can have the opportunity to learn. It is true that this coming election can be distilled in one issue but it is not about denying transgenders a safe and respectful school climate. Pafford does focus on one issue but his goal is to divide us and take advantage of our biases and beliefs. And it can work especially if equity begins to look like a threat to our beliefs and our identity.

The other candidate, Ricardy Anderson, embraces equity. 

"Everyone can easily pick up the slogan "One Fairfax" but very few really understand what it takes for our county to be equitable and why it is really important that we do become one. For Ricardy, this crystallizes in the awareness that every child has been entrusted to schools, and as a parent, Ricardy expects every child to be given ample opportunity to succeed and develop into productive citizens for the county. "One Fairfax" is still a dream and we need people like Ricardy to make this dream come true."

This is why our yard proudly displays her sign:


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