Parents and education leaders rally at ‘ground zero’ of parental rights movement

Xi Van Fleet addresses the crowd at the Herzog Foundation rally in Loudoun County, Virginia.

As someone born in Mao’s…

Xi Van Fleet addresses the crowd at the Herzog Foundation rally in Loudoun County, Virginia.

As someone born in Mao’s China, Xi Van Fleet was considered more of a ward of the government than a child to her own parents. 

She considers that a red flag for her fellow Americans today.

“It is happening in America,” Van Fleet dramatically warned a crowd of parents and educators at a rally Tuesday. “I had a full experience of Communist China. I can tell you what it feels like when the government became the parent of the children, because I was one of them.”

Van Fleet gathered with other parents and leaders in Loudoun County, Virginia at a rally hosted by the Herzog Foundation, a Christian education non-profit and publisher of The Lion. Speakers ranged from local moms to Christian school leaders and education experts.

Loudoun is the Virginia county at the center of the conflict over public education during the past year, after school board members and other school officials fumbled over COVID mandates and controversial curriculum, and then covered up a sexual assault case involving a boy wearing a skirt in the girls bathroom. 

A movement of parents demanding change in the state created momentum that helped sweep Glenn Youngkin to victory in the gubernatorial election last fall as he promised to support the role of parents in education.

“Loudoun County is ground zero for the parental rights movement,” said Todd Graves, chairman of the Herzog Foundation, in a statement. “The parents of Loudoun County deserve educational freedom for their children, and we’ll make sure they have it.”

At the event, the Herzog Foundation announced a deployment of resources for local Christian schools and parents, including a new podcast and two upcoming training events in Virginia.

The coming podcast, Making the Leap, will be for parents who want to create a better educational future for their children. Co-host Chris Stigall, who emceed the Loudoun rally, will be joined on the podcast by his wife, Christine, a former teacher. They will discuss their decision to move their daughter from public to private education, as well as talk with other experts, educators and legislators about the many vexing issues facing parents today. The first episode will appear in early May.

Stigall shared some of his own journey to open the rally, before calling on other guest speakers. They addressed the energized crowd on themes of educational choice, government control, leaving public education, and the benefits of Christian education.

Elicia Brand, a Loudoun County mother, shared her decision to move two of her children to a Christian school next school year. “I gave Loudoun County Public Schools a chance and they failed my children,” she said. “They do not share our values. They do not educate our children so that they can have the American dream.”

Carrie Sheffield, senior policy analyst at IWF, addresses the crowd.

Carrie Sheffield, senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum, shared how growing up poor and attending 17 public schools, including failing inner-city schools, has led her to be an advocate for school choice. “We need to rebuild harmony in homes and schools,” she said.

Matt Mitchell, superintendent at Dominion Chrisitan School, spoke of how Christian schools are offering a robust education without the social agendas found in public schools that concern so many parents.

“We’re not afraid of ideas,” he said. “When our children in 2nd grade are learning about Moses and the Exodus, they’re also learning about Pharaoh and the Ancient Near East. They’re getting a robust understanding of history in a chronological sequence, and not a social studies curriculum that is designed for an agenda.”

Herzog Foundation President Darrell Jones wrapped up the evening by sharing his excitement to support the efforts of parents and Christians in Virginia and around the country.

“The energy in Loudoun County is palpable,” he said of the event. “Against all odds, Loudoun County parents are winning. And if we can win here, we can win anywhere. We are excited to deploy resources to Christian schools in Northern Virginia.”

A recording of the livestream is available below.