Mason District school board member Sandy Evans, who is running for re-election, has clarified her position on Fairfax County Public Schools’ needs-based formula following an article in the Washington Post yesterday about the influence of political consultant Catherine Lorenze.
Lorenze is helping run several school board candidates’ campaigns, and advised Evans in 2010. The Post article refers to a post in Lorenze’s blog, Red Apple Mom, that complains about the FCPS practice of lowering class sizes in schools with larger numbers of poor children and English language learners. The result is much larger classes in wealthier areas like McLean.
In her blog, Lorenze states: “Areas like Bailey’s Crossroads, parts of Annandale, Mount Vernon, the Route 1 Corridor, and Herndon make out like bandits in comparison to areas like parts of Alexandria, Fairfax Station, McLean, Great Falls, Vienna and Oakton, who get screwed on FDK [full-day kindergarten], class size, and special programs.”
In a message to constituents, Evans said, “This is a wrong-headed notion, one that ignores the greater challenges some of our schools face.”
“The needs-based formula is critical to our Mason District schools and students by providing more staffing and lowering class sizes at schools with many at-risk students. I pledged both in my special election in March 2010 and in this campaign to fight to preserve it as one of my top priorities.”
“The formula means that we provide enough resources for all students to get a fair and equitable shot at academic success,” Evans says. “Some students come to us with huge challenges to overcome: impoverished backgrounds, language barriers, little or no computer access, and homes where there may not be a quiet spot to do homework or enough food on the table.”
“Ultimately, all of society benefits when we provide extra support for those who need it so we have an educated community,” Evans says. She recommends looking for solutions to the class size issue “that don’t set one part of the county, or one part of our population, against the other. The answer certainly isn’t to take from the poor to give to the wealthy.”