Students Give School Board ‘Wokeness Checker’ an Earful After Anti-Migrant Crusade

A Virginia Beach school board member helped to unanimously pass a budget to teach English to the district’s students—a budget that she fought hard against in a nasty rant.

Members of the Virginia Beach community used the school board meeting on Tuesday night to rail against Victoria Manning’s previous comments on limiting English-as-a-second-language (ESL) learning, WVEC13 Norfolk reported. At least 70 people signed up to speak, most of them in opposition.

“I’m angered, frustrated, and concerned regarding Ms. Manning’s recent comments about ESL in the district,” a student said in footage obtained by WVEC13 Norfolk.

“It puts down our entire democracy,” Rabbi Israel Zoberman of the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission said, according to WAVY10. “We have flourished because we are a land of immigrants.”

In February, after a board presentation on ESL learning, Manning complained on Facebook that Virginia Beach City Public Schools taught 300 ESL students.

“Most are from South America,” she claimed. “Our ESL budget has increased over $1 million in two years. Continuing to educate South Americans is not sustainable.”

Manning’s comments caused her to lose her newly-awarded post with a government working group focused on innovative education methods for schools in Virginia. She was specifically selected for the group by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and state Education Secretary Aimee Guidera.

“We wholly condemn Mrs. Manning’s comments,” Guidera previously told The Daily Beast. “They are completely unacceptable and are in absolute opposition to the Youngkin administration’s commitment to educate and prepare every child in the Commonwealth for success in life. Victoria Manning will no longer participate in our working group.”

Virginia Beach school board member Jessica Owens told WAVY10 she was shocked by Manning’s statement.

“It didn’t represent our school system,” she said.

After her comments went viral, Manning predictably claimed that they were taken out of context.

“At the board meeting, it was stated that a majority of new ESL students come from Central America (I mistakenly thought administration said South America since their mask muffled their speech),” Manning said in a statement on her website. “I made a social media post and my political opponents twisted my words into something that I absolutely did not intend. I love all people, no matter where they are from. I come from a family of immigrants who came to this great country fleeing religious persecution, even having to become indentured servants.

Then, after saying she had a grandmother who was Native American, Manning blamed the media and cancel culture for painting her as a racist.

“I believe it is our duty to provide an appropriate education to ALL students who reside in our city and I do fully support our ESL program and our wonderful ESL teachers,” Manning continued. “There is a teacher shortage and without teachers and proper funding, the current path is unsustainable.”

She ended her statement with genres of books that she would like to cancel from public schools. Manning previously ran a “Wokeness Checker” website that monitored if schools allegedly taught critical race theory and books that she deemed were inappropriate. One of Manning’s main literary targets was Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, which she admitted she’d never read.

WCEV13 reported the Virginia Beach public schools board approved more than $800,000 in funding for ESL programs for the upcoming school year, including financing an additional eight teachers.

Manning did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.

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