School board meetings are now must-see TV in Loudoun County, Va.
A bitter debate over critical race theory is thrusting the affluent D.C. suburb into the national spotlight. Parents are even being interviewed live in primetime.
Last week, a press conference held in front of the LCPS administration building was beamed into households across America. Parents enraged by the role CRT is playing in schools could be seen duking it out in real time with a group of Black Lives Matter activists determined to disrupt the event.
"We love our country. It has failings, we should know about it because we love our country. Loving your country is understanding it accurately, comprehensively and teaching it," says Joshua Stack, a BLM supporter.
"I’ve never seen people use this ideology to separate us like I’ve seen the liberals do," says Patti Hidalgo Menders, a Loudoun County parent and president of the Loudoun County Republican Women’s Club, who was at the event.
The press conference was organized by Fight For Schools, a political action committee led by former Trump Justice Department official Ian Prior. Its goal is to remove school board members it perceives as pushing CRT in Loudoun County schools.
"They're the ones voting on all these policies, they're the ones supervising what is happening in the administration," says Prior. "Ultimately, if we want to make change, if we want to get to an education that values students as individuals and not as some identity group, then we have to replace the school board."
The next LCPS school board elections are not until 2023, but Prior does not plan to wait that long. His group is gathering signatures to recall six members of the board. According to Ballotpedia, they would need about 17,300 votes to recall all six members. If enough signatures are collected, a trial would be held at the circuit court level.
Prior says the group have about 4,850 so far but is confident they will meet their goal.
"Now you'll see that it's not just conservatives that are worried about critical race theory, it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican, this is our children," says Menders.
Emily Curtis served in the Clinton administration. She declares herself a First Amendment liberal and says she joined the parents backing Fight For Schools when she saw her neighbors being shut down attempting to push back against CRT.
"School board elections, which have been the afterthought, are actually the most consequential elections that occur, as we are seeing now. We need to pay attention," says Curtis.
According to Prior, pushing back against critical race theory and "equity" learning is not just a mission for special interest groups and big money donors.
"Parents are figuring out how they can push back, and I hope that we are able to light a spark that spreads across the country," says Prior.
This article is part three of an investigation into critical race theory's impact on Loudoun County Public Schools. Coming up on Sunday - Digital Originals will look into the role Critical Race Theory is playing in one of America's most integrated towns, Oak Park, Ill.