Oh, Scott

Scott McCaffrey of the Sun Gazette published the following editorial on 12 Dec 2019.

Arlington School Board members bailing out

I guess you could say that it hit a nerve, so I sent him this in response.


Hello Scott,

I am troubled by this passage in your opinion piece of Dec. 12

"But we also fear that, going forward, the only people willing to put up with the grief the job entails will be social-justice warriors insistent that schools should be more about ideological indoctrination than anything else. With public education already on life support, such “leadership” could be the ‑nal straw before the time comes to implode the entire system (at all levels) and start anew." (emphasis mine)

 Who is “we?” What Social-justice warriors?? Ideological indoctrination?? I don’t understand your statement. 

From the same article you reference, "The most recent PISA test was given in 2018 to 600,000 15-year-olds in 79 education systems around the world, and included both public and private school students. In the United States, a demographically representative sample of 4,800 students from 215 schools took the test, which is given every three years." (emphasis mine)

So sure, I take exception to what you say, but that’s because the conclusion you are trying to draw lacks merit. 215 schools nationwide - we have more than that many high schools in Virginia alone! 623 high schools in Virginia, made up of 386 public schools and 237 private schools. (Source: https://high-schools.com/directory/va/

Unpack that paragraph some more: private schools - we have no idea what the accountability of private schools is or how effective they are at supporting students with disabilities or English language learners. Is Flint Hill School in Oakton the same quality as Monroe Christian Academy in Colonial Beach?

“Demographically representative” means that of the 4800 students who took the test, various ethnicities matching the US overall were used. I fail to comprehend how some people believe the PISA is a trustworthy  and representative measure, when we know the quality of schools vary from county to county, city to city, state to state, as do teacher salaries and curriculum and standardized testing. Are you really buying that ed reformy thinking that our schools are failing? You are buying right into the Koch brothers’ vision of school reform: close all public schools, and there will be a marketplace for education where we pay for what we can afford. Nancy DeVos will be singing your praises.

Sources: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/sep/07/arizona-fight-koch-brothers-school-vouchers


The subversive and racist system of underfunding public schools has left us in this mess where schools are underperforming. Misguided voucher programs, and private and public charter schools have contributed even more.  Look no further than the VA General Assembly which started replacing its state funding with money from the lottery (adopted in 1987), designed to provide MORE funding for schools, not supplant or replace state money. That didn’t last long. Since 2010 state funding drops due to budget shortfalls, by 2016  school division superintendents are getting nervous about the reliance on lottery money (https://www.dailyprogress.com/lottery-funds-for-schools-at-issue/article_ab50a840-eac9-512a-85d0-4274c0f82c74.html) Spending levels by the GA have never returned to pre-1987 levels.  

Do I think the recent public event at Swanson was a great experience. Heck no. Not civil at all. We can do better as a community, but sometimes folks don’t feel heard, or hear something else. Does that mean only ideologues, as you put it, will run for the Arlington school board? Doubly NO.

I’m running for school board. I’ve got 40 years of experience under my belt in education and I am STILL passionate about education, about students, about our public schools. Public schools are vital to our democracy.

My campaign could use some money, Scott. How about chipping in for a non-ideologue? Sandyforschools.com


Sandy Munnell

  • Sandy Munnell
    published this page in Sandy's blog 2019-12-15 20:20:26 -0500