During a June rally for Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, one lone protester marched into a sea of hundreds of his supporters, shouting “Black Lives Matter.” Her unrelenting shouts drew jeers and stares from members of the crowd. A line of men followed closely behind her as she weaved her way through MAGA hats. Her sign said, “if you’re not here to protest racism in LCPS, go home.” She held it above her head for the entirety of Youngkin’s address to the crowd.
Andrea Weiskopf, a Loudoun middle school English and Latin teacher, has been a fixture at such events throughout the county, advocating progressive causes, for years. She began several years ago when the School Board started discussing protections for the LGBTQ community.
“I’m brave, I’m not stupid,” Weiskopf once assured security guards at a conservative event. Weiskopf isn’t shy about crowds, although she does avoid confrontation. She sat out the June 22 School Board meeting, where hundreds of people showed up to chastise the School Board for planning to implement protections for transgender students. Ultimately, a chaotic boardroom crowd was cleared out by deputies.
“I just knew something was going to happen,” she said.
This year, the county came under the microscope as the battle over how to teach about racism in staff training and in the classrooms. One evening, she checked Twitter and was stunned she had a drove of new followers. “You were on Tucker!”one of them tweeted at her.
Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host who commands the attention ofnearly 3 million Americans nightly, had picked apart Weiskopf’s recent public comments at a School Board meeting to highlight his objections about the progressive causes in Loudoun’s school division.
“Can you even imagine what this lady’s personal life must be like? Miserable doesn’t begin to describe it. Desperate. Hellish,” Carlson said in his monologue.
Conservative parents across Loudoun County assert that education about systemic racism in schools is a ruse pushed by the School Board to justify implementing a progressive agenda. Groups such as Fight for Schools insist that children are taught Critical Race theory. They allege that white children are being taught that they should hate themselves for the color of their skin.
Weiskopf laughs at that viewpoint. To her, it’s reductive and misses the point about racial inequity.
“I can’t feel guilty for manifest destiny. I can’t feel guilty for the fact that my eighth and ninth great-grandfathers owned half of Connecticut—because I’m pretty sure they didn’t purchase it fairly—I’m not responsible,” Weiskopf said. “But I am responsible for tomorrow. And if I don’t change something for tomorrow, then I am guilty.”
The School Board has done extensive equity work in the past 18 months, releasing a report about systemic racism and disparities between races in Loudoun County Public Schools, the examples of which Weiskopf observes daily in school buildings.
“Particularly with girls who wear a hijab, I know they get a lot of questions that aren’t always asked in the most culturally appreciative way. I see Black students not necessarily get official discipline, but if they are being loud in the hallway during break or a class change, they are more likely to be called out for being loud,” Weiskopf said.
Her observationsare in line with the findings of the equity report released by the district in May. According to the report, minority students “have experienced the sting of racial insults or racially motivated actions,” and, “discipline policies and practices disproportionately negatively impact students of color, particularly Black students.”
Many LCPS teachers and staff are more timid about sharing their viewpoints—both progressive and conservative. But Weiskopf’s commitment to social justice, and her vocal support of students from marginalized groups, are unwavering.
“There are customs in different religions that I don’t necessarily understand, but my job is to affirm and support every student. And if you cannot support and affirm every student, public education isn’t for you,” Weiskopf said.