Julie Gunlock, director of the Independent Women’s Network, sat down with Ben Domenech for “The Ben Domenech Podcast” and illustrated how liberal politics rules public school boards in Virginia and argued that school districts response to new Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order lifting COVID mask mandates was a political statement.
JULIE GUNLOCK, DIRECTOR OF THE INDEPENDENT WOMEN’S NETWORK: When Youngkin’s executive orders came out – which, again, they don’t ban masks, they leave it up to the parents to decide if they want their children masked – the school district that in Alexandria, Virginia, where I live, the superintendent, Greg Hutchings, immediately issued a statement, which apparently is not unusual for this region. I’ve now heard that Arlington superintendent did the same, and so did Fairfax County, basically saying we’re continuing to mask. We are going to require kids to mask.
The interesting thing with the Alexandria school district is it went a little bit further. They are now going to be giving out these N95 masks, which personally I find suffocating, and they’re going to be delivering other masks, so kids can double-mask. So, to a lot of parents that I’ve talked to, this is a new turn. And in fact, it certainly comes off and it is essentially doubling down on the masking.
Obviously, Alexandria is a very, you know – I always say like, it’s the deepest blue you can find on the color wheel. It’s a deep blue city, and we have a school board that is very liberal. You know, school boards are supposed to be nonpartisan, but they are very liberal. … I mean, if you check the Twitter feeds of any – which I have today – of many of the school board members, they don’t hide their political affiliations. …
BEN DOMENECH: Doesn’t one of them work for Randi Weingarten?
GUNLOCK: Yes, we have a school board member named Kelly Booz, who was just elected this past year, which is just astonishing to me given what Randi Weingarten did. This is a woman who is one of Randi Weingarten’s assistant directors. So, at the American Federation of Teachers, you know, one of the biggest unions in the country, she’s a director. She is a high-up within this union, and she was elected to our school board.
So while a lot of people in the country – a lot of parents in the country – are sort of angry at Randi Weingarten, or at least at the very least sort of understand the role of the unions in my city, that doesn’t matter. And in fact, I’m sure a lot of people see her as sort of an expert in education because of her role with the unions.
So we do have an extremely political school board. We have a very sort of hyper-liberal school in general. The officials, you know you on their Twitter feeds, you see, you know, praise for Biden. And you know, there was … a lot of criticism of Betsy DeVos. And so no one’s really surprised that they’ve doubled down or that they’ve sort of reasserted that they’re going to keep masking kids.
But I think this discussion or talk of these N95 masks and double-masking was a surprise to several parents. And I think it’s terrible, and I think it is a way for this school district and this superintendent to not only, you know, snub and thumb his nose at Youngkin. It is a way to convey to parents that they don’t matter. Don’t even try. We’re not in any – it’s interesting. They didn’t say let’s have a discussion of masks. They went further with this, with this talk of double-masking and then 95.
So it is a way to convey to parents that we’re done talking. This is the policy. And you’d be wasting your time to come and talk to us.
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