School Discipline in Virginia – Part 2 – Positive Options Trumped by a Race Card Played from the Bottom of the Deck

From social media video of school fight

by James C. Sherlock

I have found both surprise and confusion among some readers when I use the term “valid studies” in discussing the avalanche of doctoral theses and studies produced annually by schools of education.

The federal Institute for Educational Sciences established What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) in 2002 to sort the wheat from the chaff for school divisions and state education agencies before they choose a particular intervention to pursue in seeking to solve a problem.

Since I discovered WWC a few years ago, I check it in my own research in an attempt to make sure I don’t go down a rabbit hole with some study that is flawed.

On the subject of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) WWC shows in assessments of interventions to solve problems of social emotional learning and behavior management:

  1. strong evidence that PBIS offers no measurable improvement, and
  2. that there are alternative approaches to PBIS that do show strong improvement.

One study of PBIS, conducted in Maryland (which will come up again later), was the only one ever to meet strict WWC standards of quality and strong evidence.

Strong evidence from that trial – in 2010 – found that PBIS did not work to improve social emotional development and behavior in K-5 children.

There were no positive findings.  None.

Yet a very large number of Virginia’s largest school divisions use it anyway.

And all of them started using it after that 2010 study.

But then again, so did Maryland.

Continue reading

RVA 5×5: State of The City – What The People Think

by Jon Baliles

There is a little-known part of Richmond’s City Code that requires the City Auditor to produce a “Services, Efforts, and Accomplishments” (SEA) Report by conducting a thorough poll/survey of Richmond residents to see what they think about the level of service and performance and deliverability of City government. In other words, it’s the poll that every politician fears more than anything because they can’t B.S. their way past the peoples’ opinions of what they see and experience every day.

Doug Wilder used to say (and still does), “The people are always ahead of the politicians,” and that is never more accurate than with the SEA report presented by the Auditor in February 2022. It received virtually zero attention, but that’s usually what happens with bad news. You try and bury it, label it fake news, or quickly move on to something else.

SEA reports include questions like: Are you satisfied with the overall direction of the City? What is your opinion of the value of services for the taxes paid to Richmond? Does the City do a good job informing residents about issues facing the community? Is the City open and transparent with the public?

The reason this 2022 report is relevant 11 months after it was issued is that tonight, Mayor Levar Stoney will deliver his penultimate State of the City speech that will undoubtedly be an upbeat recitation of his accomplishments and how great the City is doing — in his eyes. His office put out this four-minute video a few weeks ago to tee-up the talking points and set the stage for his speech (and perhaps his next campaign). Continue reading

Virginia Dems Refuse To Support Female Athletes

by Kerry Dougherty

I’m old.

Old enough to remember when there were sane members of Virginia’s Democrat Party.

They’ve apparently died or left the building and the party is under the complete control of woke loons. Like Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, the former Speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates, who recently pretended not to understand why the Old Dominion needs a law prohibiting transgendered athletes from competing in female sports.

(Frankly, I have no problem with trans-men competing against males. Let ‘em try. Truth is, females are smaller and don’t have the strength of men and no amount of hormones and body hair will give them an unfair competitive advantage over biological males.)

Referring to HB1387, a bill introduced by Del. Karen Greenhalgh of Virginia Beach that would require athletes to compete in sports that comply with their biological gender, Filler-Corn voted against the bill and called it “mean-spirited,” sneering: “We have had transgender youth living in the commonwealth, and there has been no takeover of women’s sports,” she said. “I just don’t understand why this conversation continues.” Continue reading

School Discipline in Virginia – Part 1 – PBIS

by James C. Sherlock

Updated Jan 30 at 17:25 with additional discussions of the origins of MTSS and PBIS.

Newport News Schools PBIS Capacity Assessments – Courtesy Dr. Jaruan M. Ransome, Program Administrator, Student Conduct & Discipline

Newport News Schools first implemented Virginia Tiered Systems of Supports (VTSS) and its discipline component, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), in the 2017-18 school year.

That year Newport News Schools was in Cohort 3 of VDOE’s VTSS program, which provides support at the division level through grant funding and technical assistance. PBIS is implemented in every Newport News school.

In April of 2022, for the second time, those schools were rated by the state as “fluent” in the implementation of VTSS/PBIS.

Good to know. I mean that.

That means that there can be no confusion as to what has gone wrong in Newport News Schools. The behavioral and educational chaos there represents some combination of system failure and individual failure.

But the point is that was always going to happen in many schools, especially those in the toughest neighborhoods.

PBIS is dangerous by design.

It can work, but in trying to trade some safety for a lot of equity, it too often gets neither.

And even its proponents have found out that without safety and order, nothing else about the schools can work.

Continue reading

Respect Art, Heal Divisions

by Donald Smith

“Our institution takes very seriously the responsibility to manage these objects in ways that ensure their origins and purpose are never forgotten: that is the glorification of those who led the fight to enslave African Americans and destroy the Union.” 

Those are the words of Marland Buckner, interim director of the city of Richmond’s Black History Museum, in a December 2021 press release.  The press release responded to plans, just announced by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and then-Governor Ralph Northam, to transfer nine statues of Confederate leaders and soldiers to the custody of the Black History Museum and the Valentine Museum.  The fate of those statues is still up in the air.  But, for those people in Richmond and Virginia who want to treat those statues with contempt and disrespect, the Congressional Naming Commission (CNC) has just offered them a wonderful gift.

The CNC was formed by the last Congress and directed to review the visible memorials to, and mentions of, Confederates on Department of Defense assets.  It did much, much more than that.  It rendered an official assessment as to how all Americans should view Confederate statues that were created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – an assessment the CNC implies has Congress’ blessing. Continue reading

Five Reasons the Assembly Should Cut Taxes

By Barbara Hollingsworth

Last week, the Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates passed a $1 billion package of tax cuts for individuals and businesses, the centerpiece of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s economic agenda. But Democrats, who have a 22-18 majority in the state Senate, have a laundry list of policies and programs they would prefer to spend the surplus money on rather than return it to taxpayers.

Tax policy is a non-partisan issue that has real-world economic consequences, especially when it comes to taxes on business income. Here are five reasons why the state Senate should follow the House’s lead and pass the governor’s entire tax relief package, including reduction of the commonwealth’s corporate income tax rate.

There’s a very large budget surplus.

In fact, Virginia is sitting on a record budget surplus of $3.6 billion, which is revenue collected from businesses and individual taxpayers in excess of the needs and priorities state legislators have already identified and fully funded during the 2022-2024 biennial budget process. It’s disingenuous to suggest that Virginia “can’t afford” to return at least part of that surplus to taxpayers. Continue reading

Psst! Where Is The Library?

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

I have been wondering about the possible effectiveness of Del. Tim Anderson’s bill trying to give parents control over their kids’ access to material in the school library that contain graphic sexual material (HB 1379).  Therefore, this weekend I asked my 16-year-old grandson, who is attending public school for the first him Johnny) restricted Johnny’s access to a book in the library. His answers surprised me:

1. Not many kids in his school use the school library.

2.  The security in the library is so lax that Johnny could walk out of the library with the book in his backpack without school officials knowing it.

What I had expected him to say, and what I expect would commonly be the case, would be that Johnny would ask one of his friends, including possibly my grandson, whose parents had not put any restrictions on their access to books, to check the book out for him.  Lacking that option, Johnny could go to the library during a study period and look at, or read, the book without checking it out.

This is not a bill offering a solution to a problem.  It is a bill designed to score political points while giving false comfort to those parents who do not feel they know and can trust their kids.

Virginia’s Educational Objectives?

by Matthew Hurt

If one were to ask Virginians whether we wish to have the best educational system in the country, the answer would be a resounding “Yes!” However, if “What does that look like?” were to be the follow-up question, we would get quite a wide variety of answers. It appears that we have not gained consensus on this question, even among the key decision-making bodies in the state. If we don’t have a commonly held definition of what constitutes successful schooling, how can we ever accomplish that goal?

During my leadership journey I have learned a number of important lessons that are critical to the success of any organization. First, the organization must identify desired outcomes and ensure those outcomes are measurable. Second, progress toward those outcomes must be monitored regularly. Third, if acceptable progress is not realized, impediments to that progress must be identified and mitigated. Fourth, the organization must maintain a disciplined focus on the desired outcomes and not be lured into investing in extraneous initiatives. Fifth, if not everyone in the organization is lined up and pulling in the same direction, the organization will not be able to achieve the desired outcomes — therefore it is imperative to get a critical mass of folks on board.

Recently the Board of Education has been entertaining different ideas of how to update our state accountability system. Renewed focus has been placed on this due to declining proficiency on state Standards of Learning assessments (even prior to the pandemic) and significant declines in Reading 4 and Math 4 results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests relative to other states. It seems pretty clear that most constituents are not satisfied with the current accountability provisions, and they have not yielded success for our students. Continue reading

As Much As We Want to Support the Boys in Blue…

David Edward Stone. Photo credit: Daily Progress

…sometimes we end up with cases like this one. Richmond Police Officer David Edward Stone, a Louisa County resident, was arrested last week on 50 child pornography charges. Stone has served on the Richmond police force since 2006, reports The Daily Progress.

Society needs police to protect against criminals. And the Richmond police have been doing a creditable job in the past several months. But Stone reminds us that occasionally the cops are the criminals. Spotting and purging bad actors is all the more imperative when police departments are drastically understaffed, recruitment is suffering, and the temptation is strong to take anyone who seems remotely qualified. — JAB

Bacon Meme of the Week

Jeanine’s Memes

at The Bull Elephant.

RVA 5×5: Annual Crime Briefing Numbers

by Jon Baliles

The Richmond Police Department held its annual crime review briefing this week and the numbers were positive on the surface, a little mixed in total, and almost miraculous considering the force has more than 150 vacancies.

Mark Bowes writes in the Times-Dispatch that “The good news for the city of Richmond from a crime perspective last year was a 37% drop in homicides (from 90 to 57) and a 17% reduction in robberies of persons.” The numbers of reported rapes, aggravated assaults and commercial robberies rose in 2022 over the preceding year, but overall violent crime was flat, [Acting Police Chief Rick Edwards] said, dropping about 1% from 1,099 reported offenses to 1,087.

However, a more disturbing trend was the 33 incidents of shootings with more than one victim (80 people total in 33 shootings – recall the one shooting last summer on Broad Street with six shooting victims). That was up from 31 multiple shootings in 2021 with 68 victims. Also, the number of non-fatal shootings increased from 244 in 2021 to 256 last year.

“The numbers would have been even higher,” Edwards said, if not for police initiatives during the final quarter of the year that reduced by 12% the number of shootings during that three month period. They dropped from 69 to 61. “We were on track to have a much higher increase in non-fatal shootings,’ the chief said.”
Continue reading

No, Senator, Cold Kills More People Than Heat

Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D-Chesterfield)

by Steve Haner

No more will Virginians have to suffer through hot summer days without the active intervention of Big Government.  Virginia’s Senate Democrats are proudly advancing legislation to demand state government develop a comprehensive statewide heat emergency response plan, and then seek to impose its leadership by “coordinating” with other state agencies and local governments.

“Extreme heat kills more Americans on average than any other weather-related hazard,” claimed Senator Ghazala Hashmi, D-Richmond, in a Tweet announcing the passage of her Senate Bill 936 on Thursday. The idea now goes to the House of Delegates.

First, the claim is demonstrably false, as plenty of solid data show that deaths from cold far exceed deaths from heat. More on that in a moment.

Second, the solution to the problem (not rocket science) is called air conditioning, and Hashmi is one of the more extreme of the climate warriors seeking to drive up the cost of the electricity that runs those air conditioners.  Her vision of a wind-solar-battery powered grid is already causing energy reliability problems during California heat waves. Continue reading

AG Miyares Takes Aim At Lawless Parole Board

Jason Miyares, Attorney General of Virginia

by Kerry Dougherty

Never was the left’s affection for criminals more apparent than in the spring of 2020 when Virginia’s Parole Board, under the leadership of self-confessed “bleeding heart” Adrianne Bennett went on a madcap freeing spree.

According to an exhaustive 66-page report released this week by Attorney General Jason Miyares, Bennett’s actions during just a two-month period — March and April of that year — endangered public safety over and over with the release of scores of violent predators.

Of the 134 offenders released between March 2020 and April 2020, 130 of them were convicted of violent crimes. Only four were non-violent.

These offenders were not released due to COVID-19 and the Parole Board was not given authority to release offenders due to the pandemic. Instead, they were released due to the traceable actions of one person: then Parole Board Chair Adrianne Bennett. Bennett is now a judge for the 2nd Judicial District Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court in Virginia Beach. Miyares launched the investigation into the Northam administration’s Parole Board on his first day in office due to an executive order signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Continue reading

Fairfax County Officials Pay Big Bucks to Another Controversial Author

by Asra Q. Nomani

Fairfax County Public Library officials are paying controversial writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of The 1619 Project, $35,350 for a one-hour lecture on Feb. 19 at the McLean Community Center, with a price tag that amounts to $589 per minute, according to a copy of the contract obtained by the Fairfax County Times.

Fairfax County Public Library, a county government agency, is paying $29,350 of the  total fee and the McLean Community Center is paying $6,000, according to Jessica Hudson, library director.

Local taxpayers are raising issues with the expenditure, coupled with the $22,500 that the Fairfax County Library paid for divisive author Ibram X. Kendi for a 60-minute virtual discussion last month. The combined amount to both speakers comes to $57,850, or about the annual starting salary of $54,421 for a librarian in Fairfax County. This past August, library officials announced they were curtailing operating hours because of “ongoing staff recruitment challenges.”

“By my estimates, the Fairfax County Public Library is using over $60,000 in taxpayer funds to host Ibram Kendi and Nikole Hannah-Jones as speakers,” said William Denk, a local resident who first alerted the Fairfax County Times to the bill, after discovering the fee. “I would like to see the Board of Supervisors reach out to Kendi and Hannah-Jones to ask that they return these funds to Fairfax County to help our local homeless population.” Continue reading