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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Volunteers sought for Stuart name change committee

The display case at Stuart High School. 
Fairfax County Interim Superintendent Steve Lockard sent a memo to the Stuart community earlier this month encouraging people to volunteer for an ad hoc committee on changing the name of JEB Stuart High School.

The School Board on July 28 has passed a resolution to establish the committee to consider the renaming and “to engage the community on this question in a public and transparent manner,” the memo states.”

The board action was in response to community members who believe it is no longer appropriate for a Fairfax County public school to be named in honor of a Confederate general.  A large crowd attended a community meeting on the issue last May.

In October, then-Superintendent Karen Garza said the establishment of the committee would be delayed to give the interim superintendent the opportunity to appoint the committee members. That delay was announced amid complaints by opponents about the cost of a name change.

The Lockard memo was issued a couple of days after a small group of community members and student leaders who support a name change had scheduled a meeting with Lockard, other Fairfax County school officials, and school board chair Sandy Evans (Mason) to inquire why the process of naming a committee had been taking so long. They were told the committee would be appointed after the holidays.

Lockard’s memo says the ad hoc committee will be comprised of 12 to 20 individuals “representing a wide range of stakeholder groups and various perspectives on the issues under consideration.” Members will include students, parents, Stuart community members, alumni, and business and community leaders.

The superintendent will determine who will serve on the committee in consultation with the school board. Anyone interested in serving on the committee should contact Marty Smith, FCPS chief of staff, at mksmith@fcps.edu, with a copy to Tracey Skahen, tlskahen@fcps.edu.

The committee is expected to complete its work in April, when it will present its recommendations to the board. A new superintendent is expected to come on board in July.

According to Lockard, the committee “will weigh the pros and cons of a name change; determine the extent of support for a change; explore public-private partnerships to finance any name change; ways to prevent added burdens on the school’s booster clubs, PTSA, and Stuart school administration; the best method for transitioning from an old name to a new one; and the best timing for such a change, if such a change is approved by the board.”

Community members hope the committee will be able to have a full, open, and transparent discussion on the name change without rancor or discord. They have also been urging Stuart Principal Penny Gros to encourage teachers to discuss the name change issue in class, but she has so far not committed to doing that. 

22 comments:

  1. How about also creating a committee to work on changing Stuart's test scores and graduation rate? Any by changing, I mean making them not abysmal.

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    1. Agree. Looks like that energy could be spent used for real learning.

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    2. That would take work...much easier to spend desperately needed funds to appease.

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  2. Instead of all the bureaucracy, how about putting the decision to an up or down vote by the students? They're the ones who ultimately carry on the Stuart legacy, so it appears reasonable to give them the choice of whether or not to keep Stuart's name on their diplomas.

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  3. I heard that one of the proposed name changes was for the Gross Graduate School of Illegals.

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  4. Teachers and educators should refrain from discussing this issue at school. There has been enough intimidation from teachers and pro name change students that it has had a negative effect on the morale of the student body.

    This article does not report that the FCPS surveys conducted revealed that the Stuart community and students are opposed to a name change. (Note, the article says a small group met with Lockard and others to keep the pressure on. This small group included an NAACP representative.)

    So, the bullying continues with a group of students and the NAACP pushing hard against the wishes of the Stuart Community.

    Unfortunately, our Mason District school board representative/ SB Chairman Evans is not respresenting her constituents, rather she is in lockstep with a political agenda that suits her personal outlook. SB members are elected on a nonpartisan ballot, but Evans has introduced a political agenda that smacks of partisanship. So much for representative democracy.

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  5. Focus folks! Stop wasting money on this folly.

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  6. FCPS needs to focus on the unfunded $439 million in their proposed Schools Capital Improvement Plan.
    Fairfax County Public Schools has detailed a proposed $824 million capital-improvement program to cover the 2018-to-2022 fiscal years and address student growth and aging infrastructure.

    Included in the new CIP are proposals for three new elementary schools and one new high school.

    County voters have approved $385 million bond packages that will be used to support the plan, leaving $439 million still to be funded. School officials anticipate a bond referendum will be sent to voters in the fall of 2017 to support the spending package.

    The School Board will hold a public hearing on the capital plan on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 6 p.m. at Luther Jackson Middle School. A vote on the package is set for Jan. 26.

    http://www.insidenova.com/news/education/fairfax/fairfax-capital-plan-includes-new-high-school-elementary-schools/article_00bc0730-c838-11e6-8870-1b5ae4889709.html

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    1. Agreed!!!

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    2. Spending over a half million to fix a problem that doesn't exist, and where will it stop? I see Lee and Jefferson next, possibly Lanier. Not one person interviewed for the change had a problem UNTIL it was falsely tied to the 1958 school board naming the school in spite. That was 100% debunked and two of the six men who voted were open David Scull supporters. The vote was unanimous and the school was named JEB Stuart because that was where his camp was located. They said it was named the same time as Robert E Lee HS….debunked; Lee was simply named Lee High School for the Lee district. Then a history teacher tells the students "they wanted to keep you in chains, they hated you." That is teaching hate; no wonder some students became upset.
      There is a fabulous lesson to be learned about the Civil War, the men and women on both sides, and where Virginia stood during the era.
      The period of massive resistance was unique in Northern Virginia. Fairfax County, Arlington, Falls Church and Alexandria stood together firmly against the Stanley Bill.
      Teaching hate is what has divided this country today.

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  7. This is riduculous that this issue is still continuing. There was lots of input on the taxpayers dollars already and the "NOs" to the name change prevailed. There are too many issues at our schools as there is why spend money wastefully.

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  8. Missing from this article is the cost of a proposed name change for Stuart in a time of serious fiscal constraint, a constant refrain of the school system and School Board members.

    The cost of hiring a consultant is estimated to be $20,000 while the cost of an actual name change ranges from &750,000 to &1,000,000. If approved, this could be only the first step in cleansing the County of names that reflect its confederate past.

    A majority of those attending the community meeting referenced in the article were against the name change as evidenced by a school system survey indicating that two thirds of the respondents opposed the change. An informal survey of the students reflected the same opinion.

    While holding strong opinions is an inherent right in this country, imposing them on others is neither admirable nor appropriate in a democratic society.

    The Fairfax County school system faces serious challenges; student achievement and graduation rates, overcrowding, aging facilities and social issues which must be addressed.

    Personal agendas are inappropriate and detract from the very real needs of the students which must be of primary consideration..

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  9. People are so offended too easily! How about we focus on cleaning up the neighborhood and test scores!

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  10. I thought this was settled. Racism won on November 8th. Keep the name.

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    1. To Anonymous 12/28/16, 11:07 AM

      Your last sentence is offensive. This kind of backbiting is unbecoming and shuts down necessary conversation.

      The continuing push to change the name of JEB Stuart H.S.is offensive to those who value democracy. The Stuart Community (including students) voted no. That should have been the end of it.

      Although the NAACP would like people to think otherwise, the name change has nothing to do with racism, which BTW is a word that is sorely overused and becoming a default slur aimed anyone who doesn't agree.

      The FFX NAACP's stated primary objective this year is to change the name of our high school. Things must be very good for those in FFX they claim to represent if they have to manufacture issues and rabble rouse to stay in business.

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    2. Racism isn't what won the election.

      We are insulated by the bounty of government jobs and security offered in this area. Maybe it's not about racism or xenophobia at all

      Riaz Patel learned because he listened. He is Gay, a practicing Muslim, married to a man and they have an adopted daughter from Pakistan. He was a Clinton supporter.

      Dear 59,668,724 Disappointed Americans,

      I know this is a devastating day. Considering the toxic levels of hatred and division unleashed over the past few years of campaigning, either outcome was going to be a bitter pill for HALF of our nation to swallow. Like all forms of mourning, it will take time to heal as we mourn the loss of our version of the next four years.

      But notice I said OUR version, there is another one. And that one not only has a lot of supporters, but has legally and definitively asserted its right to be heard. It’s a perspective I didn’t know a lot about until recently.

      A few months ago I sat down for an intense chat about hate in America. At some point he questioned why I lump all “White Americans” together when expressing a particular point of view. I thought about that a lot.

      So, the next day I decided I needed to understand the election from a perspective other than my own. On my drive to work I found a Conservative radio station. The morning after, I found another, and ever since, thanks to the power of satellite radio, I’ve been crisscrossing the country, popping in to listen to local call-in shows.

      Here’s what I learned by listening. Not waiting to speak. Not waiting to disagree or refute.
      There exists a HUGE population in America who are desperately struggling to feed their families. They feel their needs are not represented within this huge government. They feel their concerns are not being voiced by any major news outlet. They are tired of being called “dumb,” “bigoted” and “racist.”
      Based on the shocked expressions of every anchor last night that all their polling data was off, apparently they aren’t even really counted.

      I was feeling such a groundswell of their frustration and unhappiness – and even the strong possibility of a Trump victory – that I decided to travel with my husband and our daughter to Ketchikan, Alaska the weekend before the election.

      I wanted to meet these people. And I wanted them to meet me, before we had a “Winner.” How else would we understand each other beyond the “black” and “white” which we BOTH have been painted, non-stop, in this vicious election cycle.

      I went to breakfast at The Landing and discussed the stakes of the election with third-generation fisherman and learned that their whole life’s work was at stake based on potential Clinton fishing regulations. I talked somewhat fervently about the cancer that is radical Islam with Nicole & Jim, who ran the Black Bear Inn and discussed how we all feel unsafe these days. I chatted with Paula, the bar manager, who explained that almost all of Alaska is owned by the federal government so each vote in this community is REALLY about their ability to support their families.

      I met lovely people. Some I agreed with and some I didn’t. Some of them had met a Muslim before and others hadn’t. But all asked me earnest questions about my background. No question was offensive because the intention was non-judgmental.

      I realized that for many of us supporting Hillary, this election was about important social issues. It was a moral election for us. To most of the people I met on my trip, it was about survival. Literally.

      So when I read Facebook/Twitter posts this morning vilifying 50% of the country for being dumb or racist, I remember Nicole, Jim & Paula and I know that’s not true.

      But how would I know that if I didn’t meet them and talk to them with an open mind? Only by pulling up a few chairs to PERSONIFY the people we think we hate, will we move beyond “black” and “white” to the way the world really is: grey. Grey is the only way.

      Riaz Patel

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  11. “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by
    smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who
    really mean it.”
    Mark Twain

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    1. I say it's a little from Column A and a little from Column B.

      I truly appreciate the rare few who are both well-meaning and smart and/or wise. Unfortunately, they're usually to honest to win an election or too wise to run for office in the first place.

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    2. Correction: "...usually too honest to win..."

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  12. Another example why the people voted down the dreadful "Meals Tax." The politicians and the public school bureaucrats and teachers want more money from the pockets of hardworking taxpayers to line their pockets and advance their political agenda.

    School choice is desperately needed because the politicians and public school bureaucrats are much more focused on their precious selves and their political agenda and indoctrinating their students with the viewpoint which they feel should be the one and only viewpoint, rather than teaching their students the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to be successful in the 21st century's globalized economy.

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  13. Although interesting and informative reading, we have digressed from the issue of renaming JEB Stuart HS.

    In a time of severe financial hardship, we are asked to approve the time and expense being devoted to pursuing the agenda of some who have influence due to an elected position, others with a political purpose and others who may have forgotten that their mission is to engender critical thinking, i.e.the ability to assess an issue based on facts and then make an informed judgement.

    We cannot change US history The Civil War, the treatment of Native Americans, discrimination, etc are part of the crucible the led to the formation of the United States. We cannot undo the past, only hope to learn from it and become a better nation. Although not perfect, we live in the country whose has done more than any other to welcome and offer a better life to millions.

    Surely, there are better ways, especially during a financial crisis, to express one's concern for and appreciation of the country
    we are fortunate to call our own.

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