To the editor:
A group of bold Alexandria children – including my two daughters – made me proud when they independently took center stage at a recent rally against the Alexandria School Board’s failure to reopen schools. They demanded common sense solutions from their elected officials. Their calls inspired the adults in the crowd, who fought back a year of tears as they gave their own speeches.
In that moment, two things became clear. First, Alexandria’s public school problem is so bad that children are stepping into leadership positions. Second, we’re failing by allowing ideology to dictate policy.
Education has been sacrificed at the whim of who wanted to make an ideological point of rejecting national policies at the beginning of the pandemic crisis. Meanwhile, private schools are fully functional. This political failure will have generational economic and social repercussions, especially for the worst off.
As a candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates in the 45th District, I’ve openly called this “absolute ineptitude.” As a public school parent, I’m angry about it in a way my opponents aren’t. They’re in office, but they’ve done nothing. Worse, the incumbent delegate voted against a bill to reopen schools in February.
The school issue is a symptom of a deeper problem that has to be solved in Richmond. Ideology is replacing pragmatic negotiation, and we’re now seeing the local damage on multiple fronts. Violent crime is up by 19% in Alexandria, but ideological initiatives against the police have resulted in significant police force losses in the area. Legislators have enabled collective bargaining and received populist fanfare, but now we’re waking up to the reality of its crippling financial burden for cities. And politicians are pushing well-meaning “equity” concepts for schools, but they’ve shown the risk of their ideology with backward ideas like cutting advanced math from curricula.
Alexandrians are smart enough to see that ideology just creates more problems. Yet we continue to support politicians who speak only in terms of “us versus them.”
I am a 20-year resident of Alexandria and a small business owner, professor, IT Commission member and a former Central Intelligence Agency officer and U.S. Army veteran.
Readers have the chance to choose a new delegate this fall, and I hope they’ll choose the pragmatist over the ideologue. The risk is real.
-J.D. Maddox, Alexandria