As parents concerned about politicization and standards-lowering in schools gathered in Fairfax County, Virginia, a top PTA and NAACP official led a counter-protest in which she ended a tirade about parents who oppose Critical Race Theory (CRT) with the exhortation, “Let them die!”
Michelle Leete is Vice President of Training at the Virginia state PTA and Vice President of Communications for the Fairfax County PTA. She is also First Vice President of the Fairfax County NAACP and a federal employee.
The counter-protesters listening to Leete’s speech on Thursday — the crowd was overwhelmingly white and appeared to include only one other black person — burst into cheers and applause at the line, according to video by an education activist.
“Let them die,” says @FairfaxNAACP leader Michelle Leete at protest before @fcpsnews board. Folks against critical race theory are here, with protestors including Leete opposing them. It’ll be 🧨 tonight. Watch at https://t.co/KuScNenTVQ pic.twitter.com/Csb5faEYKG
— Asra Q. Nomani (@AsraNomani) July 15, 2021
Parents gathered outside the Thursday night school board meeting for an event billed as a “STOP CRT RALLY,” with a flyer saying “While they deny it’s being taught, NEA doubles down. It’s not about race or equity, it’s about a Communist Radical Takeover of America!”
Counter-protesters also showed up. Leete spoke before a circle of them and said:
So let’s meet and remain steadfast in speaking truth, tearing down double standards, and refuting double talk. Let’s not allow any double downing on lies. Let’s prepare our children for a world they deserve. Let’s deny this off-key band of people that are anti-education, anti-teacher, anti-equity, anti-history, anti-racial reckoning, anti-opportunities, anti-help people, anti-diversity, anti-platform, anti-science, anti-change agent, anti-social justice, anti-healthcare, anti-worker, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-children, anti-healthcare, anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-admissions policy change, anti-inclusion, anti-live-and-let live people. Let them die. (everyone cheers) Don’t let these uncomfortable people deter us from our bold march forward.
Asra Nomani, whose son just graduated from Fairfax County Public Schools and who helps run the watchdog group Parents Defending Education, filmed the speech as she went between the dueling protests.
“I listened, stunned, as Michelle Leete, an executive of the NAACP and the PTA, put a target on the backs of parents just because they have a different point of view,” she told The Daily Wire. Nomani is a PTA member and immigrated to the U.S. from India.
“What we heard tonight was hate speech, pure and simple. It was shocking that anyone would cheer and applaud a call to violence… Ironically, her hateful, intolerant words are a perfect illustration of the divisive ideology of critical race theory in action. In the name of tolerance, it preaches intolerance and is a betrayal of all values of humanity and decency,” she said.
Leete did not return a request for comment from The Daily Wire to explain her remarks, nor did Fairfax PTA president Kara Jenkins.
If the remarks implied a wish for death to parents who have a different opinion than her, it would appear to apply to a majority of parents. A June poll by Public Opinion Strategies found that nearly three-quarters of Fairfax and neighboring Loudoun County “oppose eliminating advanced math courses” and that significantly more voters opposed critical race theory than supported it.
Though Fairfax has a supermajority of Democratic voters, those results are not surprising since CRT opposes traditional liberal values. “The Critique [sic] of liberalism, [sic] stems from the ideas of color-blindness, the neutrality of the law, incremental change, and equal opportunity for all,” according to an “Intro To Critical Race Theory” by diversity consultant Equity Collaborative, which Loudoun County Public Schools have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Fairfax recently abolished the test used to gain admission into Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology, ranked the top math school in the country, after activists complained there were too many Asians and not enough blacks. The shift from merit to a “merit lottery” resulted in a large decrease in the number of Asians and an increase in the number of whites in the school.
The magnet school’s PTA chapter then held an election for board officers. All of those elected were minorities and most of them opposed doing away with objective criteria and lowering the rigor of the school. A PTA survey showed most parents at the school felt the same way.
Then, the Virginia state PTA intervened and demanded that the principal (who is neither a parent nor a teacher, but who supports the racial policies) be allowed to sit on the PTA’s executive committee. When the parents resisted, the state PTA’s president-elect Jenna Alexander told them that “the PTSA operates within a school with the permission of the school division and principal and as a fundamental construct of PTA’s mission and values, we operate for the purpose of creating a strong collaborative partnership between school and families.”
Virginia PTA State President Pamela Croom threatened to shut down the PTA chapter because of a “disregard for the authority of Virginia PTA” and for purported malfeasance such as criticizing the principal and making “regular FIOA [sic] requests” to learn about school operations.
Harry Jackson, a black man who is president-elect of the TJ PTSA, told The Daily Wire “I was in shock looking at the crowd, watching Ms. Leete pander to white liberals with her hateful rhetoric… Her call to violence against every kind of parent, including parents who oppose changes to admissions policies at schools like TJ, also reveal that she has a serious conflict of interest.”
In a three-part series, The Daily Wire previously reported how the PTA — which for decades parents assumed was a suitable way to be involved in their children’s education — has repeatedly lobbied for positions preferred by teachers and opposed by parents. Its findings included:
- In December, the national PTA indicated that it believes its role is influencing parents, rather than parents influencing school administrators, writing: “National PTA has engaged in, and is committed to, deep, program-wide work and advocating on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for parents and students alike… We call upon our PTA members to listen, educate and advocate to demand meaningful change to end institutional racism.” It leveled accusations against parents’ young children, encouraging parents to read an article called “Your 5-Year Old Is Already Racially Biased.”
- In July, despite anger by parents at schools’ prolonged coronavirus closures, the PTA joined with the NEA national teachers union to oppose a push to open schools, writing, “The president should not be brazenly making these decisions.” The PTA has taken multiple positions that contradict the opinion of the majority of parents according to polls, including its opposition to vouchers and typical charter schools and support for transgender students in locker rooms and bathrooms, which a 2016 poll found that fewer than a third of parents wanted.
- Teachers union officials have permeated the PTA leadership from top to bottom. In one case, the same woman is both vice president of the Colorado PTA and on the national board of the NEA teachers union; another man went from being an officer of the Massachusetts teachers union to an officer of the National PTA.