To the Editor:
I read with great interest a recent article in The Washington Post ("Brickner Turns Focus to Traffic and Taxes - Fairfax Candidate Downplays Conservative Social Views," Sept. 28, 2003), which noted that School Board member Mychele Brickner had recently declined to reappoint Arthur Purves, the "anti-tax advocate whose comments about welfare recipients, minorities and homosexuals have offended some," to the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee. Fairfax County residents may not realize, however, that Mr. Purves still serves as Ms. Brickner's appointee to the Professional Technical Studies Advisory Committee (PTSAC), a position that he has held for the past eight years.
As a PTSAC member, Mr. Purves has been no less controversial. Most notably, he has long advocated the elimination of all middle- and high-school technical training courses (with the exception of "middle-school classes that teach typing and an introduction to word processing and spreadsheets"). Mr. Purves' sweeping purge of the technical curriculum in Fairfax County would include the elimination of such elective courses as programming, database design and management, medical health technology, nursing, finance and accounting, business, culinary arts, electronics, marketing, auto technology, auto body, engineering, construction technology, cosmetology and criminal justice.
Ms. Brickner has known Mr. Purves' extreme position for a while; it is clearly documented in his 1998 Minority Report to the School Board, as well as on his Web site. However, his position may come as quite a shock to the parents and future employers of over 40,000 middle- and high-school students in Fairfax County who receive technical training and career exposure in one or more of these elective courses each year.
Those readers who think that such a radical position could never be adopted in Fairfax County might want to consider the fact that Mr. Purves (a candidate for the School Board) and Ms. Brickner (a candidate for chairman of the Board of Supervisors) are both running for elective office this year.