General Assembly Education Bills of Interest in 2022

Legacy Public School, Ashburn, Va.

by James C. Sherlock

I have reviewed the bills on the subject of education filed in this session of the General Assembly. Interesting and important legislation there, no question.

As you might expect, most of the high profile legislation was filed in the newly Republican House.

I am listing only highlights here. I have not read each bill in full, and therefore I am not sure whether or not I support them. But I intend to track them. It should prove interesting to see how each fares.

  • HB 319 Virginia Literacy Act; early student literacy, evidence-based literacy instruction, etc.
  • HB 344 Public charter schools; applications, review and approval 
  • HB 346 College partnership laboratory schools; application and establishment
  • HB 938 Public schools; evaluation & recommendations for certain current and proposed policies.
  • HB 1068 Public elementary and secondary schools; curricula and instruction.
  • SB 125 Public schools; regional charter school divisions. 
  • SB 275 Public school libraries; printed and audiovisual materials, selection, evaluation, checkout, etc.

There may be bipartisan support for at least some of these. Expansion of charter schools has some Democratic support in the Senate.

Then there is the Budget Bill developed by the Northam administration. The education components will draw a lot of scrutiny to both the money and the language.

Has Omicron Peaked?

Source: Virginia Department of Health

by James A. Bacon

The news media today is chock full of stories about school boards in Northern Virginia and other blue localities defying Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order ending mask mandates. The confrontations won’t be settled until the courts rule definitively whether Virginia’s Governor or the school boards have the last word. By the time that happens, the issue may be moot. It appears that the Omicron wave of COVID-19 has peaked and, though daily infections are still extremely high, they are receding.

According to the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard, new confirmed cases of COVID-19 hit a high of 36,928 in the week ending January 8. Last week, ending January 15, new cases fell to 27,798. The latter number may miss a few stragglers in the reporting system, but it is evident that the number of infections, after leaping to unprecedented levels in Virginia, is easing off — as was predicted by the experience in South Africa and the United Kingdom. Continue reading

Why Would Any Self-Respecting White Male Attend College Today?

by A.L. Schuhart

Why should a White male attend any American public college today? If I were a young man, being White and male, it would not be in my interest to go to college, at least in America.

The most important reason is that it is not necessary to get a college education, as so many people claim, to be successful in America. The statistics that say so reflect the bias of academia, not reality. A college education is necessary for only some careers, not all of them, and not even most of them. My electrician makes more money than I do, for instance. He does not have a college degree, and he is not still paying off his student loans as I am. In fact, a college education for many young people is a modern form of indentured servitude, not opportunity. For a White male who values hard work, merit, self-reliance, and mastering a skill, college is a complete waste of time and money.

Next, consider the culture of American public education today. It is an overwhelmingly biased environment that does not accurately reflect the diversity of thought, belief, and world views that exists in American society. Thus, it represents an incomplete version of American culture and society, one that is overwhelmingly “progressive,” and anti-west, anti-democratic, anti-Christian, and anti-conservative. Of course, not all White males fit these categories, but the ones I am talking about do. Continue reading

Youngkin’s Reform Goals Threatened by the Board of Education

by James C. Sherlock

Jim Bacon yesterday was relatively pessimistic about the prospects of Governor Youngkin and his administration rolling back regulations.

The number of regulations not mandated by federal or state law is miniscule.

A mandate in law is not the only test of a regulation.

The current Virginia Board of Education’s regulations have gone well beyond the texts of the laws of Virginia to challenge parental authority and completely redesign standards and curricula in service to progressive dogma.

Most of those regulations can be modified to eliminate or change the most radical passages and still be responsive to the underlying laws as written.

The issue is that the current Board membership won’t do it. I recommend the Governor replace its membership. Continue reading

“Second Look” Bill Would Cut Sentences for Violent Criminals

by Hans Bader

The District of Columbia has a violent crime rate that is five times Virginia’s. In 2018, the violent crime rate was 995.9 per 100,000 inhabitants in Washington, D.C., compared to only 200 per 100,000 in Virginia.

Yet some politicians want to make Virginia more like the District of Columbia. A bipartisan bill would give Virginia a more extreme version of one of Washington D.C.’s most controversial pro-crime policies: “second look” legislation. A second-look law lets judges cut sentences for criminals, or release them, after they have served 10 or 15 years — no matter how serious the crime they committed. Even if a criminal has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering several people, he can be let out after 10 or 15 years if he files a petition seeking release, and convinces the judge that he has been rehabilitated.

The Virginia bill would let inmates who have committed even the most violent crimes such as murder seek release after ten years in prison if they committed the crime before age 25, or after 15 years in prison if they committed their crime after turning 25. By contrast, Washington, D.C.’s law allows only people who committed their crimes at under age 25 to seek release, after they have served 15 years in prison. Continue reading

School Board Bullies

by Kerry Dougherty

You’re guilty. I’m guilty. We’re all guilty.

Admit it. At election time most of us know exactly who’s running for president, congress, governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, commonwealth’s attorney, treasurer, sheriff and city council.

We study bond issues and constitutional amendments.

We know how we’re going to cast our votes before we enter the polling place.

But by the time we get to “school board” on the ballot we often suffer from ballot boredom. We either don’t vote for those offices or just shrug and cast our votes for familiar names.

Never again. Continue reading

A Regulatory Path to End the RGGI Carbon Tax

The states currently in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative compact.

by Steve Haner

First published today by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) will proceed to remove Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon tax compact by the same route Virginia entered it: he will push to repeal the underlying regulation.

As with much else in his promised “Day One” agenda, it will actually take time. What he gave Virginia on Day One was an executive order outlining the coming steps, which still must follow the letter of Virginia’s administrative process rules. Regulations are created, amended and repealed routinely.

His administration will also notify the RGGI organization of Virginia’s intent to withdraw, a step contemplated and allowed under the governing memorandum of understanding.

It was a vote of the Air Pollution Control Board, citing authority over airborne carbon dioxide emissions, that implemented the cap and trade rules that require electric power producers to buy carbon allowances. That allowance cost is then passed on to power customers, in the case of Dominion Energy Virginia customers, directly on every month’s bill. Continue reading

Meritocracy Against the Wokes

Progressive Democrats are awfully riled up about the term “meritocracy” in Youngkin’s EO 1 — and they ought to be.

by Shaun Kenney

Poor Democrats — they haven’t been this ruffled about Republicans taking over Richmond since 1865.

Truly, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for the Virginia Democrats, whose lust for power and the damage they did in just two years was something to behold. What they deemed progress consisted mostly of bulldozing history, embedding outright racism into our classrooms and bureaucracy, and institutionalizing mental illness to the degree where if such things are questioned you are swiftly beaten out of the public square — or worse, the Twitter mob is followed up by a media no one reads and you are marched off to your own private gulag.

Yet I digress.

This morning’s brass ring for the left is Youngkin Executive Order 1, which repeals by fiat much of the Critical Race Theory embedded into state government by the Northam administration, and does so in such a way that any challenges will be in the face of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The offending passages? Continue reading

Who Funded Voter Suppression in Rural Virginia?

by James A. Bacon

It caused quite the brouhaha when Axios published a story in September on how a Democratic PAC posed as a conservative outfit to depress Republican voter turnout in Southwest Virginia by raising questions about Glenn Youngkin’s commitment to gun rights. Dominion Energy had donated $200,000 to the effort, run by Accountability Virginia PAC. Two days after the news broke Dominion said it had failed to vet the group and wanted its money back. The furor died down, and little has been heard of it since. Until today.

Duane Yancey with Cardinal News checked the final filings for the  Accountability Virginia PAC, which weren’t reported until after the election. It turns out that Dominion had donated a total of $250,000 — $50,000 more than originally reported — while four Dominion executives had chipped in another $27,500. Between the corporation and its executives, Dominion accounted for 47.9% of the PAC’s total contributions.

There is no indication, says Yancey, that they got their money back.

Almost all the other donors were out-of-state venture capitalists and financiers known to be donors to Democratic politics. Read Yancey’s list for the full accounting, as well as his spin on the news: “Trying to discourage people from voting is wrong, no matter which side is trying to do it.”

It is possible that the blowback against Dominion has just begun. Continue reading

The Speaker’s Committee Assignments, With a Surprise

Todd Gilbert, Speaker of the House of Delegates

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Probably the single most important factor contributing to the power of the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates is the authority, under the Rules of the House, to assign members to committees. The committees to which a member is assigned can often determine the degree of influence he wields in the House. Also, from a public policy perspective, the composition of a committee often determines the fate of legislation.

There are a lot of factors at play in doling out committee assignments. They include (not necessarily in this order of importance): party distribution, regional balance, members’ preferences, members’ backgrounds and expertise, seniority, and personal factors (whether the member impressed or crossed the Speaker, for example). Continue reading

Rolling Back Regulations Easier Said Than Done

by James A. Bacon

Virginia has lagged the nation in economic growth and job creation for a decade or more, and Governor Glenn Youngkin has made it a priority, as every governor does, to boost economic development. One of his strategies for rebooting the economy is to prune needless regulation.

“The growing regulatory burden on businesses and individuals requires time, money and energy for compliance. This represents an opportunity loss that inhibits job creation and economic growth,” Youngkin says in Executive Directive Number One, “Laying a Strong Foundation for Job Creation and Economic Growth Through Targeted Regulatory Reductions.”

Accordingly, Youngkin has directed all state agencies under his authority to reduce the number of regulations not mandated by federal or state statute by 25%. He also directs the Secretary of Finance to explore the feasibility of implementing a 2-for-1 “regulatory budget.” (The meaning of the 2-for-1 budget is not defined in the directive, but I interpret it as a call for deleting two regulations for every new regulation promulgated.)

This is all fine and good — I share the aspiration of rolling back the regulatory state — but we have to be realistic. The number of regulations not mandated by federal or state law is miniscule. With the exception of the regulatory diktats issued by former Governor Ralph Northam in response to the COVID emergency (which Youngkin is nullifying by separate executive orders), Virginia governors and state officials can’t impose new regulations by fiat. Continue reading

Virginia Becomes a Free State

by Kerry Dougherty

Blue skies, sunshine and crisp temperatures greeted Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s first day in office Saturday in Richmond.

Within hours, he signaled his respect for the Virginia Constitution, which protects the rights of parents to decide what’s best for their own children by reversing Ralph Northam’s mask mandate for all school students.

Youngkin also scrapped Virginia’s vaccine mandate for all state workers, while urging everyone to take the vaccines.

Day One promises had been made and were kept.

With that, Virginia joined the other free states, where citizens are treated as adults and don’t have to live in perpetual dread of their governor’s next dictatorial whim. Continue reading

Reframing the Debate from CRT to “Divisive Concepts”

by James A. Bacon

We all knew that Governor Glenn Youngkin’s campaign to root out Critical Race Theory (CRT) would be controversial. There are tremendous issues at stake and entrenched interests involved. It would be helpful if both sides honestly characterized the issues so we could then have an informed debate about them. Sadly, preliminary indications are that the Democratic Party of Virginia — which presumably speaks for many other Democrats — is determined to obscure the issues by constructing strawmen and knocking them down.

A case in point is the “CRT isn’t taught in schools” trope employed by the Terry McAuliffe campaign. The Dems can’t let it go. It resurfaced again in a tweet from @vademocrats proclaiming, “Glenn Youngkin admitted today that he’s been lying to Virginians and critical race theory is not in fact taught in Virginia’s schools. This dangerous lie continues to pit parents against educators and our students are paying the price. It must end now.”

That tweet has been retweeted 151 times and liked 302. And Democrats accuse Republicans of spewing disinformation! Continue reading

The General Assembly to Enlist in the Reading Wars?

by Matt Hurt

A few days ago. Delegate Carrie Coyner, R-Chesterfield, and Senator Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, submitted HB319 and SB616, both titled, “The Virginia Literacy Act.” These bills intend to codify instructional practices regarding the Science of Reading into Virginia law. While there are some widely acknowledged positives associated with the Science of Reading, it is not apparent to me that the bill will improve outcomes for Virginia students.

First, the reading wars have raged for more years than I have been alive. Initially the warring factions were the “whole language” zealots versus the phonics militants. Eventually the supporters of phonics won the battle. Soon thereafter, a rift emerged among the phonics camp about how much of the reading instruction should be straight phonics versus a blend of phonics and other activities, such as writing, word study, and etc.

Word count limits the ability of this essay to further investigate the reading wars, but suffice it to say that the smart money says these wars will rage long after I’m dead. While some educators may welcome the science-of-reading mandates, others will find them a bitter pill to swallow. Folks tend to spit out things they find bitter. Given our recent experience with the Critical Race Theory fury, it seems that mandating controversial things may not be a wise move, either practically or politically. Continue reading

Jeanine’s Memes

from The Bull Elephant