Behind the scenes at Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), many of the policy and curriculum changes reflecting social justice initiatives are driven by the Minority Achievement Advisory Committee (MSAAC). MSAAC is an advisory committee under Superintendent Eric Williams and the LCPS School Board.
MSAAC was formed in 1994 to advise the LCPS board and administration on minority student achievement. MSAAC was designed to ensure “advantages in academic, vocational, physical, cultural, and social education” for all students.
Much of MSAAC’s work has already impacted the policy and curriculum in LCPS.
MSAAC’s handbook includes LCPS’s plans to institute a “culturally responsive instruction.” This type of instruction is mentioned in the comprehensive equity plan that MSAAC helped draft. It is a three-year plan to incorporate a version of critical race theory (CRT) that LCPS calls “Culturally Responsive Education Framework” (CREF).
MSAAC is also leading the charge to artificially increase the diversity of admitted students, and enforcing “racial consciousness” amongst staff. LCPS School Board faced severe public backlash earlier this month on a policy draft limiting staff free speech in their personal life.
The policy would prohibit individuals from criticizing or eliciting speech contrary to LCPS equity practices.
Last Wednesday, MSAAC hosted an “Anti-Racism Town Hall.” The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Loudoun Branch President Michelle Thomas was in attendance. Loudoun NAACP has worked closely with MSAAC and LCPS since it requested an investigation into the school system last year.
During the virtual meeting, Thomas accused LCPS of not hiring enough Black or Brown teachers and disproportionately disciplining Black or Brown students.
Earlier this year, MSAAC pushed for resignation of ex-school board member John Beatty. In a small-group discussion, Beatty stated that African Americans lost certain benefits following emancipation.
“It was worse for African Americans after reconstruction because they did not have the patronage of a master.”
Immediately after emancipation, some African Americans had little apart from freedom. According to the University of Richmond, their prior reality as slaves meant most were uneducated, poor, and subject to new laws like Black Codes. Out of desperation, many turned back to rent land from former slave owners. Historians, such as Jim Downs, estimated that a quarter of the freed slaves died due to illness or starvation.
However, MSAAC argued that Beatty’s remarks on history were proof of white supremacy and racism. Though Beatty later insisted he “abhorred slavery” and that his remarks were taken out of context, he was ultimately forced to resign from his positions on the Equity and Disciplinary Action committees.
Current Executive Board members are Keaira Jennings (pictured above), Chair; Paulina-Marie Ransom, Vice Chair; Claudia Matteo, Secretary; Katrece Nolan, Advisor and Past Chair; Sofia Saiyed, Communications Committee; and Morgan Smith, Membership Committee.
MSAAC is currently forming committees for their equity awards ceremony in the spring. Their next meeting will be held November 18th.
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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Keaira Jennings” by Loudoun County Schools. Background Photo “Loudoun Public Schools Building” by Loudoun County Schools..