VDOE to Take Over Child Care

by James C. Sherlock

We have joined in a lot of discussions about the Board of Education and the Virginia Department of Education.

I think it time that readers contemplate the vastly expanded role of both that happens on July 1 of this year.

From that date, the Board of Education will be setting policy and the VDOE will exercise oversight over all early childhood care and education programs. Continue reading

Jeanine’s Memes


Jeanine’s Sunday Memes at the Bull Elephant

Has COVID-19 Killed the Urban Renaissance?

Image credit: “Has the Pandemic Changed Cities Forever?”

by James A. Bacon

If you’re looking for a good Sunday read, consider an article by Tim Sablik, “Has the Pandemic Changed Cities Forever?“, in the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank’s Econ Focus. Sablik does a fine job of sketching out the big issues identified by the nation’s leading urbanologists as they ponder the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on urban development.

In a nutshell, Sablik argues that (a) the epidemic has clobbered the urban cores of American metros as knowledge workers have drastically changed their work habits and personal preferences, (b) that the pendulum will swing back partially as the epidemic subsides, but that (c) things will not go back to the way they were. There are profound implications for cities and counties in Virginia as they plot their futures. Reading Sablik essay is a good place to start any re-evaluation. Continue reading

The New Racism: Fairfax Schools Edition

In impassioned remarks at a public hearing, Asra Nomani blistered the Fairfax County School Board for its anti-Asian educational policies, as seen in the video clip above. Nomani is well known to Bacon’s Rebellion readers as a leader protesting school board actions to stack the deck for admissions to the elite Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology against high-achieving Asian students in the name of “equity.”

Watch the clip. It’s about three minutes long. Nomani refers to a laughable survey conducted by Fairfax County schools on racial attitudes, which you can read about here. She also refers to the NYC Leadership Academy, an executive “training” firm that indoctrinates school officials in proper thinking about “culturally competent leadership,” which Fairfax schools are paying as much as $467 per hour for training and coaching. You can see the contract here.

— JAB

Ballad Merger IV: Has Quality Improved?

Ballad Health signage at Lonesome Pine Hospital. Photo credit: WCB

by Carol J. Bova

As a condition of the merger between Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System in 2018, the combined entity, Ballad Health System is required to periodically update Virginia regulators on health metrics for its far Southwest Virginia service territory. Those quality measures and actual performance must be accessible to the public on the Ballad website as well.

The reporting was suspended during the COVID-19 emergency before year-to-year comparisons for Fiscal Year 2020 were available. But Ballad did publish an Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2020 that contained partial data through February 2020.

The bottom line: Quality measures have been a mixed bag. Some measures have improved; a few have declined. As detailed in Parts II and III of this series, Ballad met expectations for cost cutting and restructuring. What isn’t clear from the limited data available is why there is “slippage” in some numbers from one year to the next. Important questions arise. Continue reading

From Talk-Talk to Spend-Spend

Executive coaching fees

by James A. Bacon

It looks like Fairfax County Public Schools are moving beyond talking about an “anti-racist” agenda and into the implementation stage — and they’re forking out the big bucks to develop “culturally sensitive leadership capacity” among senior executives, principals and staff.

A contract with the NYC Leadership Academy provides for “culturally competent” leadership training. The training costs $6,700 for 15 hours of virtual executive coaching — at the rate of $467 per hour.

School leader training is almost as expensive — $6,800 for 20 coaching hours, or $340 an hour. Continue reading

Could Southlake Happen in Virginia?

Prairie fire

by James A. Bacon

If you ever doubted that school board politics can be a potent electoral issue, look no farther than what happened a few days ago in the Dallas suburb of Southlake. Voters delivered a “resounding victory” — about 70% of the vote — to a slate of school board and City Council candidates opposed to the school system’s implementation of Critical Race Theory under the guise of “diversity, equity & inclusion.”

After two high schoolers used a racial slur on TikTok, local school officials over-reacted by unleashing an “anti-racist” overhaul of the entire educational system. A proposed Cultural Competence Action Plan would weed out microaggressions, subject students to cultural sensitivity training, and infuse the curriculum with anti-racism doctrines associated with Critical Race Theory. The initiative sparked a strong reaction in the area, which, though conservative, had been trending in favor of Democrats in recent congressional elections. Local news outlets expected a close contest, but the results in an election with record turnout were lopsided.

Could what happened in Southlake happen in Virginia? Continue reading

Virginia Needs a Constitutional Amendment to Elect the Board of Education

by James C. Sherlock

The Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) is by far the most powerful and consequential public board in Virginia. It is the only one whose Powers and Duties are defined in the Virginia Constitution.

It was a mistake not to make the members of the Board with such vast and unconstrained powers constitutional officers who stand for election.

We are now seeing what the Board, once appointed and confirmed, can do. It has transformed Virginia’s educational system into a Marxist indoctrination system.  Board members know what they are doing is not only radically transformational, but intensely political and fiercely opposed.

Their work is not only dogmatic, but sloppy. Their use of the English language has been demonstrated here to be severely challenged. Not exactly a trait most look for in a Board of Education.

And they do not care. There is no constitutional reason they should.

The current Board has demonstrated like no other before it that it needs to face the electorate. Virginia will need a constitutional amendment to make the VBOE, who are together more constitutionally powerful than any elected official but the governor, constitutional officials elected by the people.

It is time. Continue reading

Youngkin: Liberal Wolf or Reaganesque Happy Warrior?

Glenn Youngkin — Reagan-like optimist?

Virginia Republicans embark today upon their bizarre, COVID-safe, convention-like proceedings to select candidates for statewide office. Bruce Majors, an active Republican, writes how he has experienced the run-up to this unorthodox event. — JAB

by Bruce Majors

Back in March, I listened to Virginia conservative talk radio from John Reid’s excellent morning show in Richmond to Larry O’Connor’s afternoon show in northern Virginia and D.C., and I got the impression that this Glenn Youngkin fellow was a left-“liberal” wolf in GOP sheepskin.

Coverage focused in particular on Youngkin’s donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which, beyond its far left politics, is charged with being a con game to enrich its founders while (paradoxically) discriminating against some of its African-American employees.

Right-of-center folk also were not so happy with Youngkin’s long career with the Carlyle Group, an investment firm usually described as a Beltway Bandit, a cog in the political class, and even as an arms merchant or a funder of arms merchants.

Back then I hoped these exposures had done in Mr. Glenn Youngkin. Continue reading

The Ballad Merger III: Reshuffling, Reconstruction and Repurposing

Norton Community Hospital

by  Carol J. Bova

When Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System merged to create Ballad Health in 2018, the healthcare companies justified the consolidation with the argument that the ability to cut costs and rationalize delivery of health services would yield tangible benefits to patients in Southwest Virginia and Northeastern Tennessee.

The previous article in this series, “Cuts and Consolidations,” detailed how  Ballad Health bolstered finances through shared value-based payment savings, bond refinancing, staff reductions and closures of off-site facilities. This article, Part III, shows how the company acted to lower costs and enhance revenue by consolidating medical services, repurposing hospitals, introducing telemedicine, and implementing a new IT system.

The Virginia Cooperative Agreement, which outlined the requirements of Virginia regulators, allowed repurposing as long as certain “essential services” were retained. Deploying telemedicine and rotating specialty clinics in rural hospitals would help it meet the requirement. Continue reading

VDOE Regulation Officially Nonsensical

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane

by James C. Sherlock

I am a reasonably experienced and educated man, but sometimes I need help.

I just read the Virginia regulation 8VAC20-23-190. Professional studies requirements for PreK-12, special education, secondary grades 6-12, and adult education endorsements.  

I know, you don’t have to say it.

But anyway, I read it. The full regulation directs how Virginia teacher candidates must be educated. It directs a formal syllabus of 18 or 21 semester hours. VDOE swears that VDOE and the Board of Education wrote it, not the University of Virginia education school, and I take them at their word.

When I was done, I had to go back to Part 5. Classroom and behavior management: 3 semester hours. A key element:

“This area shall address diverse approaches based upon culturally responsive behavioral, cognitive, affective, social and ecological theory and practice.”

Continue reading

Crazy Talk: Jennifer McClellan

Sen. Jennifer McClellan. Photo credit: Virginia Mercury

by James A. Bacon

If you’re looking for craziness in Virginia, it’s not hard to find. By “crazy,” I mean disconnected from reality. Crazy people are commonly found among the homeless, in state mental institutions, and in the General Assembly. This gem comes from Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, during a televised Democratic Party gubernatorial debate.

“I had to have the conversation with my 10-year-old son last week when he asked me, ‘Mommy, someone not that much older than me was killed by a police officer. Could that happen to me?’”

“And I looked at him and said, ‘I will do everything I can to keep that from happening to you.’ Because there are too many people who call the police for help, and are killed. I had an intern who was in the middle of a mental health crisis, and his grandmother was afraid to call the police because she was afraid that he would be killed. There are too many people who are afraid of the police, and we have to address that problem.”

I’m sorry, but this is a distorted sense of reality. Philip Bump with the Washington Post, who is as woke as an over-caffeinated night watchman, counted 22 children killed by police since 2015. Of those, a quarter were White. That averages out to about three Black or Hispanic kids per year — three too many, to be sure, but not exactly an epidemic in a nation with 47 million Black people, and certainly no reason for any child to live in fear. If you factor out kids who were armed with guns or had the misfortune to live in Chicago, a free-fire zone, the odds of a 10-year-old getting killed by police in America are essentially zero. Continue reading

The Proper Role of Virginia’s Attorney General

by Jack White

By now, Virginia voters have heard from many candidates running for Attorney General making sweeping promises about policy changes they will implement as AG or talking about being the chief prosecutor for Virginia. With due respect to the other candidates in the race, I feel compelled to reiterate what is and what is not the role of the Virginia Attorney General.

The Office of the Attorney General is established in the Virginia Constitution with a clearly defined role. That is to defend the state in criminal appeals and suits against the state, provide legal advice and representations in court for the state and the Governor, provide legal counsel and official opinions to the General Assembly, and defend the constitutionality of state laws. This Attorney General is intended to be the Chief Advocate for the state of Virginia.

This is not a policy-making role. I have heard my fellow candidates talk about everything from their vision for health care to policing reform – all of which are functions of the legislature, not the Office of the Attorney General. One candidate also seems to be under the impression the Attorney General is a prosecutorial role, when in reality it is not. Continue reading

Alexandria Stands with Government Unions, Not Workers

by F. Vincent Vernuccio

In mid-April, the City of Alexandria passed an ordinance allowing government unions to bargain with the city. Unfortunately, many of the ordinance’s provisions are lopsided: they grant special advantages for government unions to easily organize public employees and trap workers into paying dues.

Alexandria’s lopsided ordinance. Alexandria’s ordinance makes it is easy for a union to petition for an election, which the ordinance says may happen in several ways, “including, without limitation, electronic authorizations and voice authorizations.” Once there is a determination by a labor relations administrator or the city manager that a majority of employees have given authorization, no one can challenge the petition.

In a sense, if a union were to use ambiguous language to trick an employee over the phone, and that employee were to respond with “yes,” the union may show that the employee wants the union to represent them – even though that may not really be the case if the employee is not informed of both their rights and of all the facts. Once the LRA makes a determination, the employee would have no recourse to say that verbal “yes” was not what they meant, or to rescind their indication of approval. Continue reading

Shots for American Kids While Indians Are Dying for the Vaccine?

by Kerry Dougherty

It was yet another gird-your-loins day in Virginia on Thursday.

Gov. Ralph Northam held a briefing on COVID-19, which could only mean one thing: more disappointing news from the Rajah of Richmond.

Northam said he may lift his now-14 month-old emergency order- – an abuse of power by any standard — in June.

If Virginians continue to get vaccinated in numbers that please him, that is.

No, he will not tell us what that number is. He’ll know it when he sees it.

Alas, masks will still be with us. After a series of idiotic rules from Richmond — no sitting on the beach, no music on the beach, school closings, gym closings, curfews, alcohol sale restrictions — Northam is now deferring to the nuts at the CDC to decide when masks can come off.

Lucky us.

Best of all, the governor is giddy at the notion of Virginia’s children getting vaccinated against a disease that poses almost no risk to them. So far he said, 63,000 Virginians aged 16 and 17 have gotten the shot! He can’t wait till it’s offered to 12-year-olds. Continue reading