‘It Feels Like the School Board Is Dividing Us,’ Virginia Mom Says

The national spotlight has been drawn to a suburb of Virginia, 45 minutes west from the capital. Teachers and parents are refusing to accept a school board's push for woke ideas like critical race theory or gender ideology in the classroom.
Shawntel Cooper is one such Loudoun County parent who took action. A video Cooper made of her ranting against the Loudoun County Schools Board regarding critical race theory became viral in May.

Cooper said, "I don't understand why you wouldn't want to ban anything which is divisive or divides us from one another because of our color."

Cooper, a black woman, joins The Daily Signal Podcast as she discusses her Loudoun mother experiences and offers advice for other parents on how to fight against woke school boards.

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Listen to the podcast or read the slightly edited transcript.

Doug Blair: Shawntel Cooper is our guest today. Shawntel Cooper is a mother from Loudoun County in Virginia. She became famous after a viral video of her confronting the Loudoun County school board about critical race theory in the classroom. Shawntel, we are so grateful that you joined us.

Shawntel Cooper: I am grateful for your time.

Blair: I'd love to begin with the video. You give a passionate defense of critical race theory to Loudoun County Schools Board in it. You were referring to how critical race theory is racist, bigoted. Can you briefly give the listeners an overview of what is happening in Loudoun County and why you decided to speak up at this meeting?

Cooper: What's happening in Loudoun County? The school board. When I spoke to the school board, they stated that they weren't teaching critical-race theory. However, we were able get curriculums and information teachers that would show that they were teaching it.

One of the trainings that teachers were receiving was mine. I mentioned it at my last panel. It is a training where the teacher must be represented as a parent. They changed the wording from Critical, to Culturally Responsive Framework, and we have them right now.

They didn't alter the curriculum in any way, whether they were using Critical Race Theory or Culturally Responsive Frame. You can see the same thing, they just changed the title. We are still fighting to ban critical race theory. As of now, however, there has been no change. Teachers are still being trained in Culturally Responsive Framework, and anti-bias.

Blair: You've made some objectionable points about certain things in the curriculum. On one of your panel discussions, you mentioned that the teacher was the parent. Could you please explain to us what this handout was?

Cooper: Yes. Cooper: Yes. I have seen it in one of the curriculums. It explains that white children don't need to be worried about. They don't go home thinking about ways they can help other people. Black children live a life that is more about other people's feelings than their own.

This bothers me a lot, as you aren't thinking about these things when you're young. You want to finish your homework so you can go out and have fun with your friends. You're going to finish your report before you go out with your friends. These quotes, direct from the training material, can be very divisive.

That one quote is really troubling to me, because I am a mother and take my job seriously. To teach reading, teachers have a special role. They are responsible for teaching academics and inculcating morals. The teacher is second mother. The role of parents is to socialize their children and to respect the authority of teachers. That is why I wanted to speak out at the school board.

However, if you're being divisive, telling children who they are due to their past mistakes and blaming them for their skin color, then that is when I was able to see the line.

My son was not raised in a white and black environment. His father did not get involved until he was five years old. He raised him in a black family. It doesn't matter what color you choose to raise your child. They learn how to win. You show them how to be strong and not to take social justice lightly. I would call it Marxist ideology. It's okay to have your opinion.

My children have not had to be told that they are oppressed, or that they have been trained. Loudoun County is the spotlight. They did draw back, but now they're pushing it back on the teachers.

Blair: I found it fascinating that you mentioned your biracial children. Although they haven't been specifically told they are oppressed because Loudoun County is the focus, this must have given you a different perspective, seeing as you are one of the targets for this philosophy. They'll respond, "Oh, we need to talk about race because people of color, people of Latino origin, etc., must have their stories shared."

Cooper: Because I am black, I feel I have a strong voice to fight it. My family supports me in this decision. We all have our own opinions but we don't support racism by adding more racism.

You can guess some things I am called as a black woman. But the good outweighs the name-calling. I don't mind if someone focuses on the negative and not the names.

Blair: Good. I'm glad that you found your experience to be positive. I would like to speak more about Loudoun County. Loudoun County is home to a lot of these things. You are a mother to school-aged children. What have you done to counter critical race theory within the Loudoun County school systems?

Cooper: We have had a lot of protests. But we also have the opportunity to get together with like-minded people who understand that this is a team effort. We participate in every school board meeting.

There are many organizations that meet weekly to discuss the next steps. What are some points we want to make to them so they know that we don't mind looking through another person's eyes or having open discussions. But, all we want as parents to do is sit down and review the curriculum and instructional material so that we can find a solution together and not be divided by the school board in every case?

It's as if the school board is trying to divide us by using transgender people, the LGBT or the mentally ill.

We have many educational meetings and panels because we are trained in critical race theory. Loudoun County is doing the same. We also do a lot with outreach from outside the state. Many of us have been very busy talking about the critical race theory.

Encourage people to read lots and lots of books. I came across a few books. One of those was Carol Swain Dr. Swain Black Eye for America. It is an easy book that anyone can understand. American Marxism was another book I read.

The key to being involved in your local community is really the key. It's not about being a Democrat or Republican, it's not about being a Conservative. It's about your values and how you want to raise your child. How can we make this work together? How do we solve it? This is how we did it in Loudoun County.

It was good to know we weren't the only ones who thought the lockdown was terrible during 2020 COVID. It is true. I agree. What are you asking me to do? I'll knock on doors.

Blair: Definitely. That is great. You wonder why Loudoun County has so many radical leftists. You mentioned that other people are also looking at it and thinking, Hey, in my district, there's also critical race theory or transgendrism. But Loudoun County seems to be a particular hotbed for these types of things.

The new transgender policy requires teachers to use preferred pronouns, but allows students to choose which bathroom they want. A secret Facebook group for anti-critical race theories was spreading positive critical theory messages. What is the problem with Loudoun County?

Cooper: Loudoun County, Virginia is a Democratic region. It seems that in Democratic areas, there is always some kind of divisive agenda to make people hate one another. This is what I've observed. Then you have the people who decide to move because they don't like how certain areas are run. That's what we feel too. We are fighting this battle tooth and nail, but we don't know what the outcome will be at the end of the year. We can only keep trying.

This is more likely than not because of the school board. They are paid and bought. They are also from California, the organization that taught critical race theory. This organization has received funding from George Soros. So, we need to ask ourselves, where is this divisive training going from? And how did it get started? They are fighting like us right now.

This training is now from California. We can only get together to fight, and not fight physical, but education-wise, we must fight and get involved in voting for our governor or lieutenant governor. Making sure their morals are within our parenting rules and morals, and what we want as a community, outside of what is in our home.

Blair: Absolutely. What are your thoughts on the effects of schools continuing to indoctrinate students in critical race theory? What happens if this goes on unchecked?

Cooper: We must not resist the temptation to make America a communist country. This applies to all of Virginia as well. Because the school wants my child to grow up, I feel like my right to be a role model and mother is being taken away.

I recall Xi Van Fleet saying that the government can give you what it wants, but also take back. We must fight back if we realize that this is the exact same plan that was taught in China in communist countries.

We won't see any positive change in Virginia if we don't fight against critical race theories and policies that encourage more violent acts with lower charges. There will be more crime. People will turn against one another just because you are different from them.

Critical race theory is currently dividing. It will cause us to be divided. It won't bring us together. That is unacceptable to me. It is something that I don't think any American would want to do. Without the sacrifices of our soldiers and all that they have fought for, it would be meaningless.

Blair: Absolutely. Blair: Absolutely. Do you have any success stories to share?

Cooper: Yes. Cooper: Yes. There is an organization called No Child Left Behind. They have won several cases regarding banning [critical-race theory], Russell County in Virginia and Augusta. They are so proud. I hope we can all get there one day.

It is hard to understand why you wouldn't want to ban any divisive or divisive material. That part is just not clear to me. It is still a mystery to me. It is impossible to understand evil.

Blair: I believe you are correct, but that critical race theory is a bad philosophy. Shawntel, I am running out of time so I wanted one last question. We have had success in challenging critical race theory in Russell County, Virginia and other areas across the country. What advice would you offer parents trying to fight these leftist policies in their school districts across the nation?

Cooper: Keep fighting. There is a mother in New York being sued for asking for or obtaining instructional material. If you ask for something so easy, or something to be put together, it is not a sign of bad or mean. However, if someone tells you what to think, instead of giving you the information, that's when you need question.

Parents, be sure to monitor your children's books, curriculum, and literature. Protect your children and be an advocate for them. They are the future of America.

Blair: That is really, really good advice. Shawntel Cooper, a mother from Loudoun County in Virginia, was the one who caught national attention after a video she made of herself confronting the local school board about critical race theory in the classroom. Shawntel, we are so grateful that you joined us.

Cooper: I am grateful for your time.

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