Commentary, Local Commentary

Editorial: That Amazing Equity Report

The overriding theme of this year’s larger than usual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day events in Falls Church were not simply racial justice in a more generic sense, but a ringing endorsement of the current initiatives toward what is called “restorative justice.” It is a central theme of our Commonwealth Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Testa’s progressive agenda to overcome residues of the racially prejudiced practices in law enforcement that have persisted in recent years and continue to disproportionately subject persons of color to vastly disproportionate high incarceration rates and other abuses of the criminal justice system.

Focus on the issue stemmed beyond the forum held at the Falls Church Episcopal Church on MLK Day this Monday, where Commonwealth Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Testa spoke, to coverage in this issue of the “restorative justice” practices now being implemented at the City’s Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School and the Equity policy update provided the local School Board at its meeting this week (see stories on each of these three contexts elsewhere in this edition).

Particularly impressive to us is the extensive set of new initiatives that were presented on behalf of the schools’ Equity initiative to the School Board. An examination of the presentation (the slide show is available on the school system’s website) shows that this is about as far from being mere lip service as you can get.

Namely, the school system is dead serious about closing the gaps in its own system on behalf of an array of conditions of disadvantage that many of the students in the system are subjected to. Under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan, this is a system that with its vastly superior demonstrated results, being only one of seven systems in the entire U.S. that offers an elite International Baccalaureate curriculum and best practices from preschool all the way through Grade 12, does not rest on its already fabulous laurels.

 We are going through a period when attacks by politically-motivated adults are wreaking havoc on the school boards of many systems across the nation. Doing quality public education is never easy, but in this period, it is far too much like a war zone for many systems, despite their imperfect but well-meaning efforts. Once again, we are finding systematic lying and nihilistic dissembling to be driving attacks on local systems, including all around us in Northern Virginia.

Before major pushbacks can develop on behalf of rationality, reason and fairness, we cannot wait to press ahead with a potent defense of our best practices in education for all, and there’s no way this is done better than to get on with it at our local school system level. So, the report presented to the Falls Church School Board this week should be seen as a vital tool in our collective arsenal. We must press forward with work like this to unapologetically stand for the kind of equity approach that is the right thing to do for all our young.