Editorial: No Room for Arrogance and Ideology in Education | Editorial

love is blind. So is ideology.

The Spotsylvania County school system is now firmly in the hands of four blind ideologues.

what are their goals? We don’t know, as Kirk Twigg, April Gillespie, Lisa Phelps, and Rabih Abusmail continue to sabotage the press, the public, and other board members.

Since they are unwilling or unable to speak for themselves, they are trying to turn right-wing provocateur John Russell, who was hired on August 19, into the role of executive communications manager. His job is to defend what is indefensible: the actions of the school board.

Russell has long been a polarizing figure in Culpeper, not an advocate of public education. On January 6, 2021, he posted this irresponsible statement on his Twitter account. ”

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Apart from a brief stint with the Virginia State Board of Education earlier this year, he has no significant teaching experience. He and his wife homeschool their children.

The first confusion he tries to explain? An attempt to hire his putative boss and fellow homeschooler Mark Taylor as superintendent.

On Thursday night, the school board sent a letter to the VBOE, in a 4-to-3 vote, indicating its intention to hire Taylor and requesting that his name be added to the list of eligible candidates for superintendent license.

The vote came after the VBOE postponed Taylor’s application at its August 17 meeting, citing fraudulent material submitted.

Taylor is seeking a license under Option IV. This is the path for someone with no teaching experience to become a superintendent. By law, Option IV candidates must have a letter of endorsement from their local school board, and that endorsement must have been voted on in a public session. Taylor’s application last month contained a “top secret” letter. At the time, the school board never publicly voted in favor of Taylor.

Additionally, when the VBOE posted on August 11th the list of those who would vote for a proctor license at its August 17th meeting, Taylor’s name was not included. The name was added the next day. VBOE spokesperson Charles Pyle told The Free Lance-Star that the omission was an “oversight.”

More troubling than the failure of his application process is the close personal and business relationship between Twigg and Taylor.

At Thursday’s meeting, board member Nicole Cole asked Twig a series of questions about her relationship with Taylor. Board member Lolita Daniels asked Twigg if she should decline to vote to send a letter in support of Taylor given her relationship with her, to which Twigg again responded. refused.

Twigg and Taylor’s relationship is a matter of public record. Taylor and his wife Francesa serve on the board of directors of Emerging Stars, a Twig nonprofit, according to the Virginia Business Commission.

Twigg’s refusal to publicly acknowledge this shows an unacceptable level of arrogance and disdain for transparency for public officials.

But for Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has made educational excellence a cornerstone of his administration, it is most worrying.

We have criticized Youngkin and his treatment of education within the state. His Charter, his School’s promotion, his unfair critique of critical racial theories, and his dystopian “hints.” It has also praised some of his moves, including raising teacher salaries, funding buildings, and strengthening reading programs. Our disagreements are based largely on candid debates about policy. as they should be.

In some respects, however, we are aligned. Public education is the most important institution young people have to prepare for the future. And we must be committed to excellence in this field.

Being a Superintendent with no teaching experience and a deep personal and business relationship with a Director who refuses to answer important questions from the public does not lead to excellence. And no magic of communication from Russell will cover this stench.

We see who the school board ideology is. I hope the Governor and VBOE are as well.

Rejecting Taylor’s license is an important first step in moving us from our current ideologically driven school board arrogance to the important task of charting a path to educational excellence. will be

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