Yesli Vega is a military wife, mother, former police officer, and Prince William County Sheriff’s Deputy who has dedicated her life to public service. Born to immigrants from El Salvador, she learned principles of hard work, integrity, and personal faith from her parents. She is a graduate of American Military University and the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy.
After local law enforcement and first responders helped her family through a tragic event, Vega decided she wanted to give back to her community by becoming a police officer. She went on to serve in the Alexandria Police Department and the Manassas Park Police Department. In addition to working the “street beat,” Vega became a Field Training Officer, a certified Hostage Negotiator, and a member of the Crisis Intervention Team.
She now serves as an elected member of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, representing about 70,000 citizens.
In today’s interview, Vega discusses Critical Race Theory (CRT), her view of racism, and the importance of parental involvement in school board decisions. She closes with a charge to other elected officials to serve with integrity and represent their voters well.
Critical Race Theory
In Vega’s county, the school board approved an equity statement to make sure all county staff members “rid themselves of implicit bias.” While Prince William County has not experienced a full-blown equity/CRT curriculum controversy like neighboring Loudoun County has, she expects the battle to eventually make its way to her local school boards. Parents across party lines are already pushing back against CRT in Prince William County.
She says that proponents of Critical Race Theory “view unequal outcomes as proof of discrimination.” As a member of a minority ethnic group herself, Vega disagrees with the idea that all problems come from racial differences. Her immigrant parents never let their skin color or country of origin get in their way, and neither will she.
Racism is blown out of proportion in America, Vega contends. She points in disbelief to recent media coverage of black college students who think that today’s racism is worse than it was in 1920s America. This alleged discrimination is used to justify why minorities cannot succeed.
“I will never allow anyone to lump me into a category of victim mentality,” she asserts. “If America is so racist, if America is so bad, why do people—by the thousands—continue to flood our borders because they want to come to this country? You know why? Because this is the greatest country [on] the face of the earth. That’s why.”
Parents Must Stand Against Rogue School Boards
She encourages local parents to take a stand when school boards enact concerning policies. “Education doesn’t start at school, it starts at home,” she reminds listeners. It’s the responsibility of parents to help children logically analyze the information they get at school, especially when school boards push policies that are at odds with parents’ personal values.
Vega lists a few first steps for parents who want to speak up:
- Identify and network with other parents in your neighborhood or community who share your concerns about local school policies or curriculum.
- Thoroughly read your kids’ curriculum and their school board’s proposals. “You have to read between the lines, because they present [certain new policies] as a nice gift. But once you start to open it, you realize it’s really not a gift,” she says.
- “Start showing up. Your vote puts those people in place.” Parents must work together to create respectful dialogue and put school leaders on the spot. To make a difference, you can write emails to the school board, ask for meetings with your school board representative, show up for parent/teacher meetings, ask for town halls, and more.
- Be proactive. Don’t wait on other people to question the status quo in your child’s school.
A Message To Fellow Elected Officials
“We are not in these seats forever,” Vega reminds her fellow elected officials. She believes that many school officials are failing to represent the wishes of the voters who put them in office.
Vega places the authority back on parents. “We have to continue to advocate for our children because they are the future and they are worth it.”