Jeanine’s Memes

From the Bull Elephant.

Bacon Bits: More Woke Wars

The culture wars are never ending. My previous Bacon Bits post only scratched the surface. Here’s more….

Crackdown on parents was orchestrated. Remember how the National School Boards Association wrote that letter accusing parents of terrorizing school board members across the country, leading to Attorney General Merrick Garland ordering the FBI to collaborate with local law enforcement to deal with the threat? Well, that NSBA letter didn’t come out of the blue. Emails obtained by Parents Defending Education through the Freedom of Information Act indicate that NSBA President Viola Garcia and CEO Chip Slaven conspired with the White House before sending out the letter, reports The Federalist. In one email Slaven explained that there were “talks over the last several weeks with White House staff” who “requested additional information on some of the specific threats, so the letter also details many of the incidents that have been occurring.” Of course, as we all know now, one of those threatening “incidents” involved Loudoun County plumber Scott Smith, whose daughter had been raped in a Loudoun school. After the school board refused to let him speak about the incident, he got highly emotional, was escorted off the premises, refused to leave, and was arrested. To cap it off, Loudoun’s woke prosecutor charged him with a misdemeanor.

Free speech for some, not for others. Suppressing conservative free speech is increasingly routine. Most recently, Republican students at Washington & Lee University were banned from displaying campaign material at their booth in an annual activities fair. The material supported Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, reports The Daily Mail. The director of student activities told them that their display violated university policy regarding the endorsement of p0litical candidates. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), however, that policy applies to universities as institutions, not to students. W&L’s stance is beyond ludicrous. The Dudley administration openly supports “social justice” movements on campus, but it’s telling students they can’t pass out pamphlets, pins, and bumper stickers promoting a governor? No wonder W&L alumni are in revolt. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Woke World Update

Sounding more like the Taliban every day! The rhetoric regarding Civil War statues may be undergoing a significant shift: from tear ’em down to melt ’em down. It’s not enough to remove the statues from the public square. Now they must be destroyed. The latest straw in the wind: The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center has submitted a proposal to Charlottesville City Council to melt down the Lee Statue that was removed earlier this year and use the bronze to create a new work of public art. The Swords into Plowshares project has received almost 30 letters of support from organizations and individuals, reports the Daily Progress. The saving grace of the tear-down-the-statues movement has been that the statues have been preserved with an idea that they might be placed in a museum or cemetery. Swords into Plowshares reopens the debate. The statues must be extirpated. One thing never changes. The Left is never satisfied. The Left always pushes for more.

It didn’t take long for that to get racialized! The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted 9 to 1 this week to allow unions to engage in collective bargaining with the county. Chairman Jeff McKay said collective bargaining will lead to better employee retention and service to the community. Yeah, right. When have public-service unions ever led to improved service to the public? Wokeness is not an ideology attuned to pleasing middle-class taxpayers. Indeed, trouble may be brewing before the ink dries on the resolution. SIEU represents about 2,000 Fairfax County employees. But some say it is too White. What? Fairfax Now quotes David Lyson, executive director of the Fairfax Workers Coalition, as saying, “The bargaining units are tilted toward wealthier white employees.” Uh, oh. Continue reading

Richmond Public Schools – Adult Misbehavior Cripples Children’s Futures

Jason Kamras Superintendent, Richmond Public Schools

by James C. Sherlock

This space this morning published a great column by Kerry Dougherty about the City of Richmond Public Schools (RPS). She was as desperate for a solution as the rest of us.

I have found over the years that it is absolutely impossible to talk or embarrass the RPS into improving its schools. They simply don’t want to do it in any way that has a chance of working.

The system is run for the adults, not the children.

Administrators simply refuse to consider doing the things they could do immediately to improve their schools:

  1. Find out where the kids are when they are absent and bring them to school if there is no valid excuse. Ultimately pursue the parents of the chronically absent in court under existing Virginia law. Both will require hiring back the truancy officers RPS fired en masse; and
  2. reduce chaotic learning environments in the classrooms with a restoration of effective discipline processes.

Continue reading

Hey, Show Some Respect!

by Walter Smith

There is a new conservative meme loose in the land. It is profane and disrespectful, and it does nothing to elevate the civic discourse. But it gets the point across. It seems that crowds in football stadiums around the country have taken to chanting, “F— Joe Biden!” Hilariously, one sports commentator mistook the vulgarity as, “Let’s go Brandon!” Now the phrase “Let’s go Brandon” has taken on a life of its own.

At a recent football game at Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium, students broke out in just such a chant, and, apparently, the Tech administration did not approve. According to WJHL News, following displays of “selfish, inappropriate and embarrassing student behavior” that “falls short of Virginia Tech standards,” the administration restricted student attendance to season ticket holders and student lottery winners. As examples of objectionable behavior, the university mentioned students entering the game illegally or violating line protocols. The communique did not mention the profane mantra, but the Media Research Center blog, reading between the lines, viewed the crackdown as a rebuke of the anti-Biden chants.

I don’t know the truth of the matter, but based upon memories of my own sordid behavior as a University of Virginia undergraduate, I offer some advice to the Tech students. Continue reading

Public School Meltdown: Teacher Burnout Edition

In video message, Jason Kamras tells Richmond Public Schools community that teachers are burning out.

by James A. Bacon

A student at a Petersburg public school took a knife to school Tuesday and used it to cut a classmate from his earlobe to his face, reports the Associated Press.

The perp and the victim were six years old.

While that particular horror was unique to Petersburg, fights and violence are on the upswing in many Virginia public schools this school year, especially in schools where the student bodies are dominated by African Americans. Most incidents never make it into the news. But disorder in the schools has become so widespread that it is causing teacher burnout. Most teachers signed up for idealistic reasons, not to disarm knife-wielding six-year-olds.

What we’re seeing is the manifestation of social breakdown caused by the confluence of three megatrends. One is the impact of closing schools last year due to COVID-19 and attempting, largely unsuccessfully, to teach poor minority kids through distance learning at home where many were left inadequately unsupervised. A second is the social upheaval triggered by the George Floyd killing and the spread of the conviction that America’s institutions, including schools, are systemically racist and that White teachers are ill equipped to deal with Black-White cultural differences. A third is the watering down of school disciplinary policies, in which school districts have adopted a therapeutic approach to dealing with misbehavior. The bar has been raised so high for punishing students that more disruption and disorder is tolerated than ever before. Continue reading

Richmond Schools Closing Due to Teacher Burnout?

by Kerry Dougherty

Is anyone looking out for the kids? Does the welfare of students ever enter into decisions made by school and government officials?

Not often. Definitely not in Richmond.

On Wednesday, with less than two weeks notice, Superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, Jason Kamras, announced that he was closing schools for the entire first week of November.

Why? To give teachers a mental health break.

Oh, please.

They sat home for more than a year and two consecutive months of in-person teaching is wearing educators out? Continue reading

Redistricting: Fairness is in the Eye of the Partisan

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Virginia Redistricting Commission has hit another wall.  This one, over Congressional districts, is good, old-fashioned partisan politics, dressed up as differing perceptions of fairness.

Last week, the Commission decided to keep Congressional districts Three and Four intact, with only those changes needed to bring their populations in line with what was needed to meet the legal requirement. These districts were those drawn by the special master and adopted by the federal court following the lawsuit several years ago. On advice of counsel, the Commission decided that this was the safest approach to avoid any Voting Rights Act challenges. Each set of map drawers was directed to proposed appropriate changes for those districts. For the reminder of the state, the Republican map drawers were directed to draw the lines for the districts in Southwest Virginia, Southside and the Valley. The Democratic map drawers were directed to draw the three districts encompassing Northern Virginia. Both sets of map drawers were then directed to draw the lines for the other three districts in the state, after accounting for the districts drawn by their counterparts. Continue reading

The Loudoun Way — School Rapes by a Member of a Progressive Protected Class

Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj

by James C. Sherlock

Any time you think there is only one system of justice in America, consider these two stories I offer below, one a progressive dream and the other true.

The true story will show some progressives care more about their dogma than kids.

And any time you think only big city progressives don’t give a damn about child victims of crime, like in Chicago or New York, read the true one below.

It is underway in Loudoun County. Continue reading

Finally, Virginia’s Political Class Starts Thinking about Grid Reliability

by James A. Bacon

At last — a serious discussion has occurred about the reliability of Virginia’s electric grid as the state moves toward zero-carbon electricity generation by 2050 (and 2045 in the Dominion Energy service territory).

Reliability was a prime topic of conversation at the third Virginia Clean Energy Summit Tuesday. A panel discussion — “Can Texas Happen in Virginia?” — focused on an issue that has gone long ignored in Virginia. (I base my commentary upon the article posted by Virginia Mercury reporter Sarah Vogelsong who attended the event.)

What happened in Texas during a deep freeze in February most likely would not happen here, panelists agreed. Virginia is different. First, its electric utilities are more tightly regulated. Second, Virginia belongs to a regional transmission organization, PJM, which would allow the state’s power companies to import electricity from outside the state should the need arise.

Some of the arguments presented are valid. Virginia has backstops that Texas did not. But Texas may not be the most valid point of comparison. Perhaps we should be looking at the calamity that is California, which also has a tightly regulated electric power industry and also imports electricity from outside the state. Indeed, when Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Younkin has warned about blackouts and brownouts in Virginia’s energy future, he was alluding to the example not of Texas but California. Continue reading

Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI+) Pilot – Hidden Data, Disappearing Value — Thanks for Nothing

by James C. Sherlock

This is a follow-up to my Monday report on VPI+, a federally funded four-year pilot program to assess the value of the Virginia Preschool Initiative.

Today we will discuss what was not reported to the public. We will also assess the dreadful results of the pilot participants after those kids graduated and went on the kindergarten and first grade.

Clearly, SRI International (main report) and RAND (cost-benefit report) were directed not to disaggregate the results of the data they collected by division and school. Those, of course, are the levels that give parents enough information to evaluate the program.

What was revealed, at the very end of the main report, was that disadvantaged kids participating had made learning gains compared to their disadvantaged peers who did not attend, but

“like other state public preschool programs, by spring of first grade the differences were no longer statistically different.”

That heart-breaking outcome was left un-assessed.

The mandarins at VDOE (and perhaps the federal DOE) appear to believe that pre-school is too important for parents to get involved.

If given full information, some might challenge the program or decide it is not appropriate for their own children in their local school district.

Like the domestic terrorists some of them are considered in certain circles to be. Continue reading

The State Tax Gravy Train Accelerates

by Steve Haner

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

Any claim that Virginia cannot reduce taxes on its citizens without damaging state programs has been further eroded by two recent announcements.

The explosion of revenue from recent state tax increases is continuing into this new fiscal year, pointing to a potential repeat of last year’s $2.6 billion general fund surplus, which the state’s leadership is still trying to attribute to anything but its tax legislation. In the first three months of this new fiscal year general fund revenue is running $570 million ahead of last year’s record amounts, blowing out projections that assumed last year’s surplus was pandemic-related lagniappe.

The flood of money wasn’t related to the pandemic, not totally. It was related to tax policy decisions made in 2019, 2020 and 2021, the bulk of the surplus revenue coming from higher individual and corporate income taxes.

Adding to that, the Virginia Retirement System told legislators Monday that it has done so well with its investments (a 27% return in one year), the next General Assembly will be able to reduce the amount of cash it invests in the next few years, a significant reduction in annual costs. Continue reading

COVID Did Not Cause the Spike in Richmond Murders

by Hans Bader

Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) suggested a spike in murders in Richmond is due to the coronavirus. But it isn’t.

VCU Medical trauma surgeon Michael Aboutanos said VCU is experiencing a 121% increase in gunshot-wound victims from across the Richmond metropolitan area. In response, Senator Warner cited the effects of COVID-19, the “frustration of people not being able to get back into the community, the frustration with schools being shut down. But 120 percent increase, month over month over last year? If that doesn’t scream epidemic, I don’t know what does.”

But the coronavirus epidemic affected the whole world and shut down schools and community institutions in many countries. Yet the United States was almost alone in having a huge increase in homicides. Most of the world saw reductions in homicide rates in 2020. Continue reading

The Anti-Racist History of Vouchers in Virginia

by James A. Bacon

The school choice movement — and vouchers in particular — are portrayed by proponents of public school monopolies as elitist and racist in origin. According to historian Nancy MacLean, the idea for vouchers came out of Virginia’s Massive Resistance to school integration as a way to transfer white children from integrated schools into private “segregation academies.” This widely accepted view is has been little disputed.

Until now. Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, Phillip W. Magness with the American Enterprise Institute says the critics of vouchers have their history backward. The voucher idea originated with economist Milton Friedman as a way to advance integration. Writes Magness: “Virginia’s segregationist hard-liners recognized the likely outcomes and began attacking school choice as an existential threat to their white-supremacist order.”

That’s right, integrationists proposed vouchers as a way to integrate schools, and segregationists opposed them for precisely the same reason. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Government Failure, Private Initiative

Will Metro ever get its act together? The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has pulled the 7000 series of rail cars from service after a derailment on the Blue Line and discovery of more than two dozen wheel-assembly defects similar to those that had contributed to the accident, reports the Washington Post. “The potential for fatalities and serious injuries was significant,” said National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy, “This could have resulted in a catastrophic event.” The news represents the latest in a long series of setbacks for the commuter rail system, which serves Northern Virginia. It comes at at time when transit officials were hoping that ridership, devastated by the COVID-19 epidemic on top of a history of safety and service issues, might rebound. But never fear, the federal government has a printing press and it has limitless dollars to prop up failed enterprises.

K-12 education in crisis. The crisis in K-12 education has far deeper roots than the COVID-19 epidemic. Nationally, 13-year-olds saw unprecedented declines in both reading and math between 2012 and 2020, according to scores released a week ago by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Despite relentless efforts to close the racial achievement gap, the “Nation’s Report Card” shows that Blacks are falling behind even faster than Whites, Asians, and Hispanics. Declines were most severe in the bottom 10th percentile. “It’s really a matter for national concern, this high percentage of students who are not reaching even what I think we’d consider the lowest levels of proficiency,” said George Bohrnstedt, a senior vice president and institute fellow at the American Institutes for Research, as quoted in the 74 Million blog.

Dumb and dumber. Speaking of the NAEP scores, fewer than half of Virginia’s 4th graders score “proficient” or higher  in the NAEP tests. By the 8th grade, they fall even farther behind. Here are the most recent numbers (2019): Continue reading