Extensive Plagiarism Alleged for UVA PhD Dissertation

by James A. Bacon

Natalie J. Perry, who now leads the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion program at UCLA, plagiarized long passages in her PhD dissertation at UVA, allege Luke Rosiak and Christopher F. Rufo in The Daily Wire.

In describing the plagiarism in Perry’s dissertation, “Faculty Perceptions of Diversity at a Highly Selective Research-Intensive University,” Rosiak and Rufo write:

An analysis of the paper found it ridden with the worst sort of plagiarism, reproducing large swaths of text directly from several other authors, without citations. The scale of the plagiarism suggests that Perry lacks both ethics and competence and raises questions about academic programs that push DEI.

Perry’s dissertation lifted passages from ten other papers. In key portions of her text, she copied almost every paragraph from other sources without attribution. She fails even to mention at least four of the ten plagiarized papers anywhere in her dissertation.

The article says Perry earned her PhD in 2014. Her official biography states that she holds a degree in “higher education” from UVA. The School of Education and Human Development website indicates that the school offers a PhD in Higher Education.

“A legitimate academic field never would have found this dissertation plausible,” Rosiak and Rufo write. Speaking of UVA, Harvard, and UCLA Medical School, they add, “These institutions have dramatically lowered expectations for favored groups and pushed a cohort of ‘scholars’ through the system without enforcing basic standards of academic integrity.” Continue reading

Some Rural Localities Hit With Big Jump in Local Composite Index

Credit: Cardinal News

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

For all those readers who complain that Northern Virginia gets screwed by state funding formulas, Dwight Yancey of Cardinal News has provided an eye-opening rejoinder. Many rural counties have been hit disproportionately hard by the new calculations for the local composite index used to determine the local share of the costs of basic aid for schools.

The main driver in these increases has been significant increases in the total value of real estate in those counties. Many of them have become havens for folks leaving urban areas for the rural countryside, either for their primary or secondary homes. In Franklin County, burgeoning property values around Smith Mountain Lake have driven up the county’s total real property values 39 percent over the past two years, although almost half the students live in poverty. In Nelson County, the situation is much the same with properties in Wintergreen and spillover from Albemarle County driving up the county’s total property values. In Charles City County, where 64 percent of the students live in official poverty, folks buying up riverfront property have driven up the total property values by 24 percent.

The result of these changes is that the state now considers Charles City County as having a greater ability to pay for its schools that Northern Virginia localities, including Loudoun County, the wealthiest locality in the state and one of the wealthiest in the nation. In fact, 22 localities are rated as having a greater ability to pay than Loudoun and most of them are rural.

Yancey provides nice maps to illustrate his analysis.

At some point, the state—governor and legislature—will have to quit delaying and tackle the hard job of revising how the state funds local schools.

The Budget Do-Over: A Game of Chicken?

by Jock Yellott 

Speaking off-the-cuff at a Charlottesville/Albemarle Bar Association lunch on April 18, 2024, Senator Creigh Deeds offered some pointed remarks about Governor Youngkin.

The Governor and the General Assembly had just the day before agreed to scrap the budget and the Governor’s proposed amendments and start over from scratch in May, averting a crisis. 

Youngkin’s more than 200 proposed budget amendments are evidence of a CEO mentality, Deeds observed. Compared to other governors the Senator has worked with, this one seems disengaged from the political process.  

Senator Deeds told his lawyer colleagues he anticipates that in May the General Assembly will vote essentially the same budget.  

Consider the implications of that.

To me as an outsider it had looked like the politicos starting over in a spirit of cooperation, this time with more realistic expectations. I was not alone in this: Steve Haner hoped they’ll “finally sit down like adults and negotiate the budget.”

Maybe we were naïve. Continue reading

Jason Miyares–Judicial Activist?

Jason Miyares

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Jason Miyares has struck out again.

Miyares, Virginia’s Attorney General, keeps asking the Virginia Supreme Court  to interpret a statute, based not on how it is actually written, but based on what the General Assembly “intended.” The court’s response is that its function is to ask “not what the legislature intended to enact, but what is the meaning of that which it did enact. We must determine the legislative intent by what the statute says and not by what we think it should have said.”

At issue is the expansion of earned sentence credits for offenders in state prisons enacted by the 2020 General Assembly. This legislation and its implementation has had a convoluted history, which I described in an earlier post. In summary, the maximum number of sentence credits an offender can earn was increased from 4.5 days per 30 days served to 15 days per 30 days served. The legislation listed a large number of exceptions to the expansion. Among the offenses exempted from the expansion were Class 1 felonies (capital murder) and “any violation” of Sec. 18.1-32 (first degree murder).

The aspect of the legislation that Miyares keeps running up against is the omission of inchoate offenses in the list of exceptions. In legal terms, an inchoate crime is “a type of crime that is committed by taking a punishable step towards the commission of another crime. The three basic inchoate offenses are attempt, solicitation, and conspiracy.” Continue reading

State Legislatures Control Budgets — Virginia’s More Than Most

Virginia General Assembly Building (new)

by David J. Toscano

For over a month, Virginia’s legislature and governor have been embroiled in a “two scorpions in a bottle” fight over the new biennial budget, which must be passed by June 30, 2024, to fund the government. Last Wednesday, each of them loosened the cork in the carafe. After Assembly-initiated discussions with the governor, Virginia leaders showed, for one moment at least, how the commonwealth operates differently from Washington, D.C. Rather than force Youngkin to take the political hit from vetoing the first Virginia budget in recent history, the House of Delegates used an unusual procedural move, and killed it themselves. All sides committed to producing a new budget and to return on May 15 to pass it. As Churchill once said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”   

Budget battles in the commonwealth are not unusual, but this one has been unique, both in the number of changes Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin proposed to the bipartisan spending plan, and in the rhetoric that has accompanied the process. Youngkin called the bill a “backward budget” and traveled the state on this theme. Legislators fired back, did their own tour, and likened Youngkin’s actions to “what spoiled brats do when they don’t get what they want.”

Last Wednesday, both sides returned to Richmond for the “reconvened” or “veto” session. The governor had vetoed a record number of bills, including measures to protect reproductive rights and enhance gun safety. Since overriding a veto requires a two-thirds vote, the governor was successful with every veto.

The fight over the budget bill is different. Youngkin, like governors in 44 states and unlike our U.S. President, has the power to “line-item veto” specific provisions in the budget. His targets were thought to be a tax on digital services he originally proposed and language that requires the commonwealth to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). But he abandoned this approach when legislators shrewdly drafted these provisions to make a line-item veto legally problematic.

It does not matter whether you are a Republican or Democratic governor; legislative power is clear in the budget process. Several years ago, Governor McAuliffe learned how crafty legislative budget writing can frustrate key executive goals. The governor hoped to expand Medicaid through the budget, but Republican leadership was resistant, and explicitly included language in the budget to prevent it. McAuliffe attempted to line-item veto that provision, only to have House Republican leadership opine that the Governor had no such constitutional or statutory power to do so. When it comes to the budget, legislators enjoy proclaiming “governors propose; the legislature disposes.” Continue reading

Jeanine’s Memes

From The Bull Elephant

Bacon Meme of the Week

Ready for Taxes on Netflix, NFL Sunday Ticket?

By Steve Haner

After a month of unproductive political theater, Virginia’s leaders will finally sit down like adults and negotiate the budget. Better late than never.  The message is “everything is back on the table,” which leaves the door wide open for the tax increase central to the Democrat’s demands. That deserves a quick no.

At this point, Virginians do not pay sales tax on their Netflix, Disney, or sports streaming package subscriptions. That is what they want to tax now. If you just paid an online vendor to file a tax return, next year a sales tax of up to 6 or 7% will be added to that bill. Likewise, any annual subscription for Microsoft Office or One Drive storage, or for an internet security system, will be taxed.

Substack will be taxed. Some online news and opinion streaming options will probably be protected by the exemption for newspapers, but others will not. That will be a fun dispute for the Tax Department to broker, one of many new rules to work out.

Did you pay to play that new movie on Amazon using bill credits you had built up? Will tax be added to that, as well? Or will the entire Prime membership trigger a tax? The whole idea is rife with questions and unintended consequences, even more so for the application of the tax to digital goods and services in the business realm.  Taxing business purchases produces the big revenue. Continue reading

Keffiyehs, Yarmulkes and “Belonging” at UVA

by James A. Bacon

It’s “Palestinian Liberation Week” at the University of Virginia this week, and the Students for Justice in Palestine have organized loads of activities for antizionists, culminating with a “Die-In for Gaza” Friday.

“Wear your keffiyeh,” urges UVA’s Students for Justice in Palestine on its Instagram page. Keffiyehs are traditional Arab scarfs, which students wear to signal their solidarity with Palestinians seeking to combat “settler colonialism” in Israel.

Meanwhile, Jewish students have stopped wearing yarmulkes, Stars of David or other ornamentation that would identify them as Jews.

What does that dichotomy say about the sense of “belonging” — the holy grail of the Ryan administration — experienced by Arabs and Jews respectively at UVA? Continue reading

Public School Enrollments Still Declining

Virginia K-12 public school enrollment will decline by nearly 31,000 students, or about 2.9 percent, over the next four years, according to the demographic research group at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.

The fall-off is expected to be sharpest among high school students, which augurs negatively for future enrollment at Virginia’s universities and community colleges.

The Center based its estimates on the number of births in school districts, projecting forward five years to Kindergarten, and then adjusting for later grades by estimated percentages of students advancing to the next grade, school transfers, migration, dropouts, and deaths. Major uncertainties center around the impact of virtual learning and whether the exodus to private schools and home schools during the COVID epidemic will recede. — JAB

The Incredibly Shrinking Newspaper

Richmond Times-Dispatch building

A story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch sums up the state of media coverage in the state’s capital city.  The city of Richmond is considering entering into an agreement to move the city’s Department of Social Services into the Richmond Times-Dispatch building. The agency will occupy three floors of the four-story building. The newspaper staff will occupy the other floor. A newspaper operation that needed four floors at one time to house its staff now needs only one floor. The newspaper does not even own the building that has its name on the front. It was sold to a private investor four years ago.

Diamonds Aren’t Forever

by Jon Baliles

The entire saga of the development of the Diamond District project in Richmond has come full circle in the last 18 months, as Mayor Levar Stoney, desperate for an economic development win after the failure of his Navy Hill boondoggle and two failed casino referendums, has rounded the bases trying to get a baseball stadium built before the franchise was going to be moved by the powers at Major League Baseball (MLB). Finally scoring a run, however, will come with a cost: $170 million to be exact, because that is how much debt the city will issue  to pay for building the stadium and surrounding infrastructure for the rest of the Diamond District development.

The big news broke last week about the new plan to build the baseball stadium but is also being accompanied by a new financing and development structure and procedures. The announcement unfortunately pre-empted the planned Part 3 of our baseball stadium series, which explained that, at this late date, the only option left to get the stadium built in time and not have MLB yank the franchise was for the city to issue general obligation (G.O.) bonds. That was the only evidence MLB was going to accept to prove the money to build the stadium was actually there and construction could actually begin, because all the talk from the city had been just one missed promise after another, and delay after delay.

The bomb was set to explode and the Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) played the last card they had left. They will put the onus of the debt and risk all on the city’s shoulders, issue the debt quickly and get the shovels turning to meet the deadline. But that is not at all how this process began, and it has changed drastically in the many months the city spent dithering. Continue reading

Will Democrats Shut Down State Over Tax Hike?

By Steve Haner

The fight that is about to occur at the Assembly’s reconvened session on Wednesday is entirely about taxes, not about spending.

An analysis of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposed compromise budget – done by the Democrats’ favorite financial bean counters, not by conservatives – confirms his budget comes extremely close to the spending levels Democrats approved at the end of the General Assembly.  The gap compared to the $188 billion overall budget is little more than a rounding error. Continue reading

Fairfax Spends More, Teaches Less

by Arthur Purves

(Editor’s note: Arthur Purves, president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, addressed the Fairfax County School Board on Feb. 13, 2024. His remarks, with updated numbers, are posted below.)

At church I get to ask students and parents around Vienna about our schools. The feedback is positive, and we appreciate your dedicated teachers and administrators.

However, as FCPS spending goes up, achievement goes down. Over the past 5 years, per-student cost has increased, from $16K to $21K, while SAT scores fell, from 1212 to 1181. Never in half a century have FCPS SAT scores seen such a precipitous decline.

Your crucial failure is in teaching minority students mastery of reading and arithmetic by third grade. Most of our crime is committed by individuals whom the public schools failed to teach reading. The fault is the curriculum and unaccountable administrators,not the students, their race, nor their families. Your budget does not even mention Equal Access to Literacy, which was supposed to replace whole word reading instruction with phonics. Continue reading

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From the Bull Elephant