Governor Youngkin Can Restore Parental Rights in the Treatment of Transgender Children in Schools with the Stroke of a Pen

by James C. Sherlock

Gov. Youngkin criticized after calling on teachers with LGBTQ students to tell parents” is a headline in The Virginian-Pilot.

Apparently, “Gov. Youngkin calls on teachers with LGBTQ students to tell parents” did not make the cut.

Narrative shaping 101.

Now consider these statements of government opinion:

  • “If she has to tell her parents, they might beat or disown her.”
  • “If his parents find out, he might kill himself.”

These are judgments that not only can be made by public school personnel under current Virginia policy, but are actually encouraged by that policy.

Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools.(Model Policies) was written pursuant to the 2020 law § 22.1-23.3. Treatment of transgender students; policies. That law was written for action by Superintendent of Public Instruction, who works for the governor. Read it.

Nothing in that law required the DOE to go nearly as far as it did in Model Policies. But it was drafted by a panel dominated by progressive activists who shared their pronouns.

You will note there is not a single word in that law about parents.

All the Governor needs do it tell his Superintendent to revoke that destructive policy document and re-rewrite it requiring parental involvement. (And new rules for bathrooms. You are welcome Hanover County School Board.)

Elections matter. Continue reading

The Circle of Government Fecklessness and Homelessness – Newport News Edition

Newport News City Manager Cynthia Rohlf

by James C. Sherlock

Newport News ought to work.

It starts with Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS). I’ll let them describe it.

Newport News Shipbuilding is the sole designer, builder and refueler of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and one of two providers of U.S. Navy submarines.

With approximately $4 billion in revenues and more than 25,000 employees, we are the largest industrial employer in Virginia and the largest shipbuilding company in the United States.

We build the most advanced ships in the world using our expertise in nuclear propulsion, naval design and manufacturing.

Many of the 187,000 citizens of Newport News either have a family member who works at NNS, one of its 2,000 active suppliers (half of which are small businesses) or one of the businesses who provide services to those employees. The population of Newport News is a full five years younger (median age 32.9) than that of the rest of Virginia (37.8).

So, as I said, Newport News as a city ought to work, if for no other reason than that it is anchored by 550 acres of the most spectacularly accomplished industrial plant and white- and blue-collar workers in the world.

But in key government services it does not work. Continue reading

Race As a Political Construct

by James A. Bacon

Race is a social construct, as the Wokesters endlessly remind us. It’s one of the few observations from the left that I mostly agree with… or, at least, I did agree with until reading, Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America, by George Mason University law school professor David E. Bernstein.

Now I’m more inclined to say that in the United States race is a political construct.

According to the U.S. Census, here’s the breakdown of Virginia’s 2020 population by race:

  • White (non-Hispanic): 60.3%
  • Black (non-Hispanic): 18.6%
  • Asian: 7.1%
  • Two or more races: 8.2%
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native: 0.5%
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0.1%
  • Some other race alone: 5.2%
  • Hispanic/Latino origin: 10.5%. (When categorized by race, Hispanic individuals generally are designated either White or Black.)

What does it mean to be “White”? What does it mean to be Black or African American? Or Asian? Or Hispanic? Who defines these racial/ethnic classifications anyway, and who decides how to classify individuals when disagreements arise?

Unelected federal bureaucrats and unelected judges make the decisions based upon a combination of evolving ideology, case law, and political pressure from racial/ethnic advocacy groups. The resulting classification system influences the allocation of billions of government dollars, and in so doing reinforces racial/ethnic constructs of how Americans think of themselves. Continue reading

A Pedophile By Any Other Name

by Kerry Dougherty

Remember Allyn Walker, the ODU assistant professor who was indignant last fall because pedophiles get such a bad rap?

We wrote several posts about Walker, who prefers we use the much more pleasant euphemism “minor-attracted person” to describe perverts who are sexually attracted to children.

If you thought Walker was alone in this sort of twisted thinking, you were wrong.

Get a load of Miranda Galbreath, a licensed professional counselor who works with prisoners for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

Continue reading

Higher Ed to General Assembly: More, More, More

Rendering of new Va. Tech. Data and Digital Sciences Building, (authorized 2020) Photo credit: Va Tech

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The 2022-2024 biennial state budget that became effective on July 1 included more than $1 billion in general fund appropriation for capital projects for institutions of higher education. This was in addition to at least $1 billion in general fund-supported appropriations in the previous biennial budget.

One would think that more than $2 billion in the last two biennial budgets would be enough to satisfy the capital needs of higher ed, at least for a while. But, as my colleagues in the Department of Planning and Budget were prone to say, “There is no satisfying higher ed.”

The ink was hardly dry on the governor’s signature on the new budget bill when higher ed institutions submitted capital budget requests totaling $3.2 billion for the amended budget to be submitted to the 2023 General Assembly, of which $2.6 billion would come from the general fund or be supported by general fund-backed bonds. Continue reading

Richmond Times Dispatch’s Flexible “Community Guidelines”

by James C. Sherlock

The Richmond Times- Dispatch motto is “Where Your Story Lives.”

They fail to define “your.”

I posted a comment this morning on a story in the RTD titled “Hanover County School Board introduces transgender policy; discussion is limited.”

The headline is unconsciously ironic, but I did not comment on that. Picking on headline writers is weak.

I noted that the author, in an extensive article, failed to mention as context for the public discussion upon which she reported the fact that parents and the Board had in mind the two rapes in Loudoun County Public Schools last summer/fall by a young man wearing a skirt to get into the girls bathroom.

I did not comment on the wisdom of the draft resolution that was considered by the Board of Education. I thought it ridiculous. Something simpler, perhaps, like “unless you have to sit or squat to pee, stay out of the girls room.” Or whatever.  But I left that alone.

Mine was, I thought, a respectable input. I just received a note rejecting my comment.

This is the entire note: Continue reading

Time to Throw the Spotlight on Virginia’s Education Schools

Dean Ingrid Guerra-López

by James A. Bacon

My Bacon’s Rebellion colleague Jim Sherlock has brought much-needed attention to the link between the Wokeness revolution in Virginia’s education schools and the collapse of learning at the state’s public schools. Virginia’s education schools increasingly see their role as less about teaching teachers to teach and more about bringing about the transformation of society.

A case in point: the appointment of Ingrid Guerra-López as dean of George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), which includes the school of education.

Once upon a time, Guerra-López’s appointment would have evoked no interest outside GMU and the narrow world of education schools. Now we find it necessary to divine her intentions from vague pronouncements made in press releases and other documents, such as this Q&A published on the GMU website. In one utterance she said:

If we are not working together toward clear and measurable societal impact, then we need to ask ourselves whether that work should be done at all. Continue reading

Lee, Jackson, the Right of Rebellion, and Hanging Cromwell’s Corpse

The thirst for vengeance has no expiration date: hanging Oliver Cromwell’s corpse.

by Jock Yellott

As an August vacation from current events, let’s explore Virginia’s Right of Rebellion — and the question of Confederate treason.

It’s in our state constitution Bill of Rights: “Whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to [the benefit, protection, and security of the people] a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal. Virginia Constitution Art. I §3 (June 12, 1776).

Virginia’s Constitution was no anomaly.

When the American colonies seceded from England in 1776, and afterwards for the next three quarters of a century until 1860, most state constitutions in their Bill of Rights or Preamble reserved to the citizens the right to abolish their own governments. A representative sample: the original colonies Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Georgia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and later (when added to the union) the states of Texas and Maine. Continue reading

Hallelujah! Cellphones Banned In Virginia Beach Schools

by Kerry Dougherty

Quietly and without fanfare the Virginia Beach School Board on Tuesday night decided to ban cellphones in schools.

Even powering up a phone on school property will now be against school board policy.

Hallelujah!

No longer will teachers have to patrol the aisles, reminding kids to put their phones away. No longer will high school students be allowed to spend every break hunched over their phones and they won’t be permitted to text or call their friends or family during the school day, thus terminating one of the most persistent distractions to education.

Board member Carolyn Weems told her colleagues of a teacher who’d asked her kids to keep track of how many hours they spent on their phones each day.

The results? A shocking 10 to 12 hours. Every day!

Combine that ever-present distraction with the learning losses that took place during misguided covid shutdowns and the Beach had a recipe for failure.

The new cellphone policy was the subject of a refreshingly cordial conversation at the Board’s workshop, with all members seemingly in agreement that the insidious phones had to go. Continue reading

Can Teaching Be Fixed to Transform It From a Burnout Job? – A Professional Approach

by James C. Sherlock

K-12 teachers all over the state and country report burnout.

There are lengthy discussions — OK, arguments — about the reasons for that situation. But no one denies it is happening.

One of the attractions of teaching when I was a kid and a young man was that teachers, largely then as now women, could raise their families, teach and enjoy and feel fulfilled by both.

  • Most went to school with the school buses and came home with the school buses. They were home when their kids got home. They were with their kids in the summers.
  • They did not work at home or at school on their computers and the internet because there were no home computers or internet. They had a free period during the day, but they did grade papers at home. Sure. Sometimes. Lesson plans. Ditto. I know I did in my brief pre-military stint as a teacher. But I did not find that stressful. Neither did my married colleagues. Teaching was fun.
  • The undergraduate education schools taught their students how to teach. Both the curricula and student teaching were meaningful. They prepared student teachers for their first and second years of teaching far better than they do today.
  • Ed school emphasis was on their undergraduates. Teachers did not require graduate degrees to teach. (Still don’t, but their own schools today make them second-class citizens if they do not have one. Lower pay. Unlikely to be a principal. Not versed in the latest graduate school of education trendy theories, so they don’t get sent to professional conferences. Regardless of the relative quality of their teaching. They can be Master Teachers in some divisions, but that was an afterthought.)
  • That system worked for both the teachers and the kids, both their own and those they taught.
  • It worked for the schools, because they could fill their classrooms with qualified teachers, who did not burn out and quit.

There is a professional approach to returning the job of teacher to a lower stress condition. First, insist on it. Then re-architect the school and thus the profession of teacher to make it happen. Continue reading

Youngkin on the Mar-a-Lago Raid

What do you think of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s comparison? Does former President Trump’s behavior on Jan. 6, 2021, warrant special attention by federal law enforcement? Or have the DOJ and FBI become servants of the new ruling class, intent upon prosecuting only the transgressions of the political right? If the latter (remembering that this is a Virginia blog), how can Virginia, as a co-sovereign state in a federal system, push back?

Teacher Shortages Aren’t the Only Manpower Problem in Schools

Data source: Virginia Department of Education, Staffing and Vacancy Report

by James A. Bacon

Virginia’s teacher shortage has become so acute that it has ignited widespread inquiries into what’s causing it. The explanations proffered by establishment media fall into two buckets: (1) teachers aren’t paid enough; and (2) teachers are quitting because conservative parents are meddling in their jobs. The latest example is an article published by the Virginia Mercury, which focuses mainly on salary and compensation.

The teacher shortage is national in scope, as the Mercury rightly points out, and it is aggravated by the fact that pay is not keeping up with inflation. The article describes how school districts are competing for a limited pool of employees by offering retention bonuses, boosting benefits, and other strategies. The Mercury also alludes in passing to non-pecuniary reasons behind the teacher exodus, quoting James Fedderman, president of the Virginia Education Association.

Fedderman lays blame on culture-war issues such as LGBTQ rights and critical race theory. By way of specifics, he mentions the email tipline that Governor Glenn Youngkin said he would set up so parents could report on “inherently divisive practices” in schools. It’s been more than half a year now. Has the tipline resulted in a single action against a single teacher? Can Fedderman name one teacher who has been indisposed by the tipline? No. I’m sorry, but the tipline is not why droves of teachers are leaving schools. Give it up!

So, what are the real issues? Continue reading

Zombie Legislation

by Jim McCarthy

Zombies, having become popular in filmdom and TV, are finding resonance in the nation’s legislative sausage making. Generally, the term zombie legislation applies to statutes negated or consigned to death, often by federal or state court decisions, that remain on the books due to legislative lethargy. Currently, the phenomenon has become more apparent and pertinent following the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision in Dobbs v Jackson, reviving concern about related privacy precedents.

As a matter of fact, however, zombie statutes have an even older presence than 2022.

The post-Civil War amendments intended to emancipate slaves and affirm the principle that all are created equal. The Thirteenth (in precatory language) declared that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude … shall exist within the United States,” and the Fifteenth guaranteed that the right to vote shall not be denied. Declaring slavery shall not exist as a precatory statement is not the equivalent of outlawing the practice. Just over three decades later, at the opening of the 1900s, Virginia convened a constitutional convention. One of its prominent leaders, Carter Glass (later U.S. Senator), in responding to questions about some provisions in the document as discriminatory, proclaimed:

Discrimination! What that is exactly what we propose. To remove every negro voter who can be gotten rid of, legally, without materially impairing the numerical strength of the white electorate.

Continue reading

Equal Time: American Federation of Teachers on Teacher Retention and Discipline in Schools

by James C. Sherlock

To balance my reporting on discipline in schools and teacher retention, it is only fair to go to the best progressive source of ideas.

To give them equal time.

It is a close call, but the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is the most progressive and militant of America’s major teachers’ unions. They are proud of that.

But that does not imply that they are ignorant of what is going on in schools. I read their reports and recommendations regularly, and find some interesting ideas there. Some worth considering.

Many of those ideas unfortunately prescribe solutions that require an avalanche of new money and new hiring. More money than they are willing to estimate. More hiring of specialists than are available in the workforce. But a few do not.

One concludes from reading the dozens of resolutions and reports of the AFT that on the subject of student discipline:

  1.  The union recognizes that student discipline and teacher safety are linked and constitute a major problem;
  2. It wants to double down at breathtaking expense on current multi-tiered systems of supports like Virginia’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to solve the problem; and
  3. It does not want students suspended or expelled.

The tension among those three bullets is not explored, but it is unfair to AFT to imply that is all they have to say.

Get a refreshment and we will review some of their ideas. Continue reading

Too Much Money for Roads?!?

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Although gas prices have receded substantially from the levels that sent everyone into a tizzy earlier this  year, Governor Youngkin has not given up on his proposal to lower gas taxes.  Now, however, his rationale for the cut is different.

According to veteran reporter Dave Ress, in an article that appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Governor told a group of supporters in Virginia Beach recently that the gas tax should be decreased because it brings in too much money for the state transportation fund. The governor said that some level of tax needed to be retained as a use fee.

If the governor really believes that the state brings in too much money for the transportation fund, it seems strange that he let go unchallenged the General Assembly’s budget proposals to use $554 million in general fund appropriation to fund highway and bridge construction projects as follows:

  • Widen I-64 between the Bottoms Bridge exit in New Kent to James City County–$539 million (Item 447.10, Chap. 1 (HB 29) and Items 452 and 485, Chap. 2 (HB 30))
  • Extend Nimmo Parkway, Virginia Beach–$10,000,000 (Item 447.10, Chap. 1 (HB 29))
  • Replacement of Robert O. Norris Bridge–$5,000,000 (Item 452, Chap. 2 (HB30))

Continue reading