Race relations are at the center of political discussions these days and that is no less true than in our little city of Falls Church, Virginia. Signs stating “Black Lives Matter”, “Love is Love”, and “Diversity is Caring” have cropped up all over the city as people make visual statements about their views on these stirring issues of the day. Divisions run deep as the community debates and considers a proposal, in public meetings and comments to the school board, to strip our high school of its name. Community members feel strongly that it is inappropriate to have George Mason, a slave owner himself be the namesake of our public high school where all children should feel safe and welcome. This issue is personal, raw for many and seen as superficial virtue signalling and nonsense to others.
Falls Church was founded after all by gerrymandering, by drawing an artfully chosen boundary to create not only an independent city and high quality school district, but to also create a predominantly white high school in 1948. That was the virtue signaling of that generation and surely then, we broke away based on our “community values.” Many argue that the virtue signalling continues today rolled out under new cover in the form of other current political flavors or “signals” such as the pinwheels in the park to signal awareness for National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the new law passed banning guns in parks, public lands and in city public buildings. Those gun restrictions have a deep longstanding history in limiting blacks’ access to guns, yet in today’s new landscape, it signals an effort to rid our society of the violence that plagues our larger cities and nation as a whole. The City Council unanimously passed this legislation with no discussion or public acknowledgement of this racial history. Where was the outrage while we disarmed our minorities on city land?
Given the winds of the times we think that our city leadership both the City Council and the School Board should do something more than change sign posts if they want to really address race relations. Any solution to any problem starts with awareness and then education. This time let’s actually do something, not just signal that we are concerned.
Falls Church City should implement an Exchange program to
begin in the Fall of 2021
We have exchange programs with Chile, France, China and other schools as we know the importance of immersion to increase understanding. We should create a semester in a school that has a different cultural, racial and economic makeup than our predominantly white population. This would be in keeping with the ideals of our international Baccalaureate curriculum that “aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people … to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect” We can’t think of a better way to do this than a more local exchange program by giving students a better opportunity to meet students with a different background than their own. This idea could transform the educational experience of each exchange student at both FCC schools and the chosen participating school.
What better way for students to learn to be ambassadors of racial peace and multicultural understanding than to walk the halls potentially as a minority in a more racial diverse student body. Students would gain a fuller perspective and their parents would have the opportunity to learn from their children how different schools employ education in a more diverse environment. Students could come back from the experience and pass on what they learned to other students and the greater community.
If there is a fee associated with this exchange, we challenge the school board to exchange this program for its current mostly white educational experience at Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County. Better yet, phase out that exchange program of privilege and ask that families compete for and self pay to experience this opportunity of a lifetime at a nearby diverse school.
In addition to this exchange program perhaps our community can create a fund to finance the tuition of a student or students of color or minority from an underprivileged school in our metro area to attend our mostly white, affluent and elite schools in Falls Church City.
Finally someone has proposed a solution that will address the racial issue instead of signage, name changes and other virtue signalling. I support this effort.
Hahah how many people put up signs then voted not to change the name? This town and its people are amazing.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of hypocritical behavior in this little city. The title of this article sums it up accurately: put your money where your signal is Falls Church City!
This is an opportunity to do real good – provide scholarships to students that don’t have access to award winning schools. We have the money, we have the capacity. Falls Church needs to act. Now.
Look at the data for low performing schools – some children do not pass math or english proficiency and this is a travesty. We can help those children. Where is our leadership?
Why don’t they want to do this? We all know why.
This needs to be sent to the falls church city school board. An exchange program is a good way to help students from both the host school and the exchange school. My child did a foreign exchange program and he learned so much about the other culture, the different economic environment and even unique teaching experiences.
I think a high school “scholarship” program for minorities is a good idea for a number of reasons.
1. We already have this program set-up. Now, we allow well-to-do, out-of-city folks to buy a seat for their kid on a case by case basis if room is available.
2. We have a new high school coming on line soon that was built with excess capacity.
3. We learned a couple of months ago that enrollment next year will be less that planned for and budgeted. so we have even more excess capacity at the high school and a budget windfall.
4. We can take that “free” money to establish a scholarship program for 10 to 20 high school kids who are at underperforming schools and want the challenge and opportunity of attending our top high school.
Falls Church allows people to buy a seat at our schools? Do they pay 20,000 a seat? How is an underprivileged family expected to afford tuition that high?
We need school vouchers.
Falls Church should offer school vouchers to underserved communities. Not just one or two but much more so these children have a group of peers to attend city schools.
Someone mentioned scholarships on another forum and this would be a great way to implement the program.
Or we could redraw them boundary of our city so that we can integrate schools.
Why don’t we sell our school system to Fairfax like we did the water service?
I love this! So students from Falls Church City would get to exchange at perhaps an inner city high school – or exchange in a developing country? I learned a lot from living in developing countries, namely how lucky we are. It’s not perfect here, but we have toilets and the grocery stores have fresh vegetables.
I think it would be best to keep the exchange local but I agree that visiting developing countries is wonderful. I like a local exchange:
1. it’s easier to implement because no foreign travel
2. it would be cheaper because, again, no visas, travel and other expenses
3. it would foster a relationship with another local school
I agree with you; the students will learn so much about how others live and learn. An experience that is priceless. Thanks for sharing your experience!
Why would the school board do any of this? They want to change the schools name. So they can put up we did something flag/yard sign and go back to their white privileged bubble. Oh they also made their staff read a book over the summer so they can put up a second flag.
Truth! They don’t see what they don’t want to see.
What book was the staff required to read?
Falls Church City doesn’t promote this idea at all. Why? They don’t want it. Why? We all know why.