'Anti-Racist' Curriculum Could Cost Virginia School District $280K: Report (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)
By Theodore Bunker | Friday, 07 May 2021 11:03 AM
Virginia's Fairfax County Public Schools may spend as much as $280,000 for an equity consultant to create an "anti-racist" curriculum for use in public schools, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
Superintendent Scott Brabrand told parents in an email on Thursday that the school is going to create "a new Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Education Curriculum Policy," which will include paying the Leadership Academy for equity training sessions according to a contract made in March.
These sessions could cost anywhere from $240,000 to $280,000 depending on the lessons and whether the sessions are in-person or virtual. The Free Beacon did not receive a response from a spokesperson for Fairfax schools about the cost of the program.
Former Fairfax County Public Schools board member and former U.S. Department of Education official Elizabeth Schultz told The Federalist that the contract appears unusual, and could even violate state law.
"It is telling that Fairfax County has managed to issue a contract to do things such as 'create a culturally responsive school system,' 'learn to audit curriculum with a culturally responsive lens,' and 'strengthening reflective practice and sustaining leadership growth,' with 'explicit emphasis on racial equity in coaching conversations,' all in a procurement vehicle which has no cost ceiling, and with a contract term from March 11, 2021 through July 31, 2025, a term which exceeds the maximum four-year contract allowed by law for any superintendent in the Commonwealth of Virginia," she said.
Arlington County Public Schools and Loudoun County Public Schools have made similar strides to make anti-racist education a priority.
In the email, Brabrand said that the district is set on "realizing a vision of educational equity" and to developing a school system that makes students feel "empowered." He also asked parents to answer a survey about whether they think teachers in the district are prepared to discuss race and racism with students.
Specifically, the survey asked if the curriculum "should give students opportunities to recognize injustices that systems create," if "teachers should have materials to guide them in creating anti-racist and anti-biased classroom environments," and whether students attending school in the district are able to "develop positive self-identities based on their membership in multiple groups in society."
One parent of two high school students in Fairfax County told the Free Beacon that the survey "starts with the presumption that racism is rampant in our schools when it simply is not."
They said, "Our schools should be places to learn, not places to divide, and the narrative being advanced is corrosive and divisive."
Rory Cooper, a parent of three elementary school students in the district, added: "Many students in Fairfax County are still only getting two days a week of instruction, and nobody is getting more than four days a week. Scott Brabrand should focus his attention on getting more kids in school and repairing the damage he's caused over the last year right now."