The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Inflaming passion — but not much else — about education

Jean Atkinson holds a sign outside the Loudoun County School Board meeting Oct. 26 in Ashburn, Va.
Jean Atkinson holds a sign outside the Loudoun County School Board meeting Oct. 26 in Ashburn, Va. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
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To “school board moms” Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich, who co-wrote the Nov. 9 Tuesday Opinion essay “Why candidates ignore ‘school board moms’ at their peril”:

Like you, I pay property taxes to support my local schools. I am a stakeholder equal to you, even though my children are grown. The mission of public schools is to enable an educated populace to keep the country thriving in the future and to reflect the needs of children in the community as a whole. If you want to control the curriculum directly for your own children, please send them to private schools that can respond to your specifications.

Andrea Port Jacobs, Columbia

I have been a substitute teacher in kindergarten through fifth grade with Montgomery County Public Schools for 32 years. First, I encourage Moms for Liberty co-founders Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich to brainstorm a list of evidence for lessons taught to their students on “highly divisive topics of questionable academic benefit.” Then we can have a discussion on their merits. This is a common course taken in elementary school classes for ideas, issues, Venn diagrams, graphic organizers and learning strategies.

 All education is a rounding process. It is a lifelong experience.

Jean Danielson, Bethesda

I was witness to my daughter’s online high school instruction in 2020-2021 and was impressed by the quality of teaching. My only criticism was online textbooks. They are not easy to manipulate, take notes from and refer back to. When the power goes out, they go out. Bring back textbooks for all students. To Moms for Liberty: Are these examples of lessons in kindergarten on gender identity or in any grade on White male privilege actually in the curriculum, or did parents hear teachers trying hard to answer students’ questions?  

Don’t blame falling test scores on fleeting discussions. Blame it on cellphone and Internet addiction, TV, parents who don’t instill a love of learning, and lack of steady access to computers and the Internet (where online textbooks, classroom discussions and free tutoring sources are). Blame it on the loss of ability to think deeply and learn broadly. 

Moms for Liberty are worried about their children’s education, as all moms are, but for misguided reasons.

Amy ByrneVienna

Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich want me to believe “powerful interests” are teaching our children “highly divisive topics of questionable academic benefit.” References to “examining students’ ‘white male privilege’ ” and “instructing kindergartners about gender identity” perhaps fired up those predisposed to believe public education is inappropriately biased but hardly persuaded me to join their cause, even if their supporters won a few recent school board elections.

Many of today’s school curriculums go beyond “reading, writing and arithmetic” to teach disturbing and uncomfortable facts from American history and culture that any educated person should know. Perhaps incumbent education officials are unreceptive to their concerns, and school boards are cutting off their microphones because Ms. Justice and Ms. Descovich articulate their objection to this reality to inflame passions instead of appeal to reason.

Charles Lundy, Arlington

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