Monthly Archives: June 2021

VMI Officer Commissions Among Minorities

A Miraculous Turnaround in Richmond’s High School Graduation Rate

by James A. Bacon

For at least three years running, the City of Richmond Public Schools (RPS) ranked as the school system with the lowest graduation rate in Virginia. Yet, despite the travails of a COVID epidemic that kept most students home most of the time, school officials are projecting a 14 percentage-point increase in the graduation rate to almost 85%, with the most dramatic gains seen among Latino and economically disadvantaged students.

“We’re finally gaining traction based on the past three years of our efforts,” said Tracy Epp, RPS’ chief academic office, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

How did such a turnaround take place, even as many students struggled with Internet connectivity or studied at homes where working parents could provide no supervision?

Such a dramatic change of fortune sounds too good to be true — and perhaps it is. There is abundant anecdotal evidence from around the state of students logging into classes and turning off the audio and video feeds. But let’s give RPS the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps adversity inspired everyone to rise to the occasion. What do school officials say made the difference? Continue reading

Will Clement Leave His Mark as UVa Rector?

Whittington W. “Whitt” Clement

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors will have some fresh blood tomorrow. Whittington W. Clement will assume leadership as rector July 1, and he will be joined by three new members appointed by Governor Ralph Northam earlier this month on the 19-person board.

The question is this: Will anything change? Will the Board reassert its control over an institution that is run by a self-aggrandizing senior staff with no regard to the interests of students and parents who pay most of the bills? Will it act to protect Thomas Jefferson’s legacy and UVa’s proud tradition of intellectual diversity and free inquiry? Or will the Board acquiesce to President Jim Ryan’s ambition to create a monochromatically leftist faculty while tolerating a student culture of dreary ideological conformity?

I don’t know Clement well, but I can say confidently that he is a dedicated public servant who will do his honest best to balance the many conflicting demands confronting the Board of Visitors. Continue reading

How 15 Days to Slow the Spread Became 475

by Kerry Dougherty

At last!

Four hundred and seventy five days after Gov. Ralph Northam first declared a coronavirus state of emergency, his latest order is set to expire today.

God willing.

I can’t be the only one holding my breath, wondering if the hysteria that Team Apocalypse is ginning up over the Delta variant will cause Northam to reinstitute emergency measures or suddenly extend them.

It can’t be easy to relinquish such broad powers.

Yet, as of yesterday, 89% of Virginians over the age of 65 had received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 81% were fully vaccinated. In Virginia’s largest city — Virginia Beach — there were exactly 9 positive tests. And statewide, only 202 people confirmed for COVID were hospitalized, down from 2,820 on January 14, 2021. Continue reading

Wine, Polo and White Privilege

A scene from King Family Vineyards near the polo grounds

by James A. Bacon

Albemarle County has some of the most beautiful man-made landscapes in Virginia. As the southern anchor of the so-called “northern Piedmont,” Albemarle is set amidst the rolling hills of horse and wine country. Rich people from around the United States, and even a few from Europe, pump phenomenal sums into the farms surrounding Charlottesville. The homes of this landed gentry are tasteful in the elegant, understated Virginia tradition. The trees are well pruned and the flower gardens lush. Barns are well maintained, fields carefully tended, and fences painted and in good repair.

My wife and I have just returned from this part of the state after a few days of wining, dining and hiking. Though appreciative of the beauty, I am profoundly ambivalent. (For the record, I do not speak for my wife!) The fabulously wealthy people who created this amazing place live side by side with a population so far left on the political spectrum that even locals jokingly refer to the region as the People’s Republic of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

How is it, I wonder, that Charlottesville multimillionaires like Michael Bills, founder of the environmentally leftist Clean Virginia, and his wife Sonjia Smith, underwriter of all manner of “progressive” political candidates, co-exist with the likes of Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker, whose poetry proclaimed, “Charlottesville rapes you and leaves you in sullied sheets,” and the Albemarle County school board, which is integrating concepts from Critical Race Theory into its teacher training? In this age of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, how do uber-privileged white people like Mills and Smith escape criticism from the left? Continue reading

The Dems’ Conscience-Clause Dilemma

by Emilio Jaksetic

Virginia’s statutory adoption   conscience clause prohibits any requirement that forces private child-placing agencies to violate their religious or moral convictions when participating in the placement of a child for foster care or adoption. Virginia Democrats have advocated repeal or nullification of the clause on the grounds that the clause permits unequal, discriminatory treatment.

In February 2021, the House of Delegates passed HB 1932 to repeal the conscience clause despite objections from Republicans and Catholic adoption agencies. (See the article in The Virginia Star.) The bill was referred to a Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services, where it died. (View the legislative history.)

The list of Virginia Democrats who support repeal or nullification of the adoption conscience clause is extensive. Continue reading

Reporting the Truth in the Post-Trump Era

by Chris Saxman

When I was a teacher of U.S. History and Government, I had only one rule for my students and it was that they think. I told them flat out:

I don’t care what you think – I care that you think. Time will take care of the rest.

Their thinking was dependent upon being able to access facts and alternative lines of thought so that they would be challenged to actually think deeply versus reacting emotionally.

Today, kids call that “adulting.”

In order for me to make 17th and 18th century U.S. History interesting for late 20th century high school students, I had to make it relevant to their lives. So, we would talk a great deal about current events and apply them back to whatever time we were discussing in our curriculum. In that way, our history would come alive for them and they would then dive deeper into their studies. Continue reading

Print Me a House

3D printer used to construct a house                                 Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

For someone who stays away from housing issues, I now have my second one in two days. Yesterday, I expressed dismay at the price tag on new “affordable” homes. Today’s topic is 3D printed homes.

As strange as that may sound, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported yesterday that work has begun in Richmond on the “first house in Virginia partially constructed using a 3D printer rather than lumber.”

I have trouble wrapping my mind around this concept.  =As I understand it, the “printer” is a large contraption that lays down concrete, rather than ink or toner, in precise patterns that have been programmed into a computer. The concrete is then smoothed out with a different nozzle that has a scraper attached. In the case of this house in Richmond, the printer is laying down layer after layer of concrete to “print” the outer walls of the house. The interior walls will be constructed by more traditional means. Continue reading

Sticker Shock

Creighton Court in Richmond         Photo credit: NBC12

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

I will be the first to admit that public housing policy is beyond my area of expertise. But, I am often amazed and befuddled at the cost of what is supposedly “affordable” housing.

Creighton Court is a traditional public housing complex in Richmond. The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority has decided to raze the complex and replace it with a mixed-income development. RRHA earlier informed the public that some of the units would be houses “affordably priced” and marketed to first-time home buyers. So far, so good.

Today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the projected price of these “affordable” homes: $400,000. People are reeling from the sticker shock. Even with a $50,000 down payment, the monthly mortgage payment would be over $1,400. For whom is this “affordable”? I had a decent paying state job and there was never a time at which I could have afforded a $1,400 mortgage payment. Continue reading

George Floyd Gets the Christopher Columbus Treatment

by Kerry Dougherty

Anyone else remember Nancy Pelosi’s reaction on July 8, 2020 when a woke mob toppled the statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore?

Here, I’ll refresh your memory:

“People will do what they do,” she shrugged.

The Hill reported that Pelosi went even further, suggesting that it was perfectly appropriate for a seething crowd of idiots to vandalize statues.

At her press conference, Pelosi, who is from Baltimore, said she was “not one of those people who is wedded to a, ‘Oh, a statue of somebody someplace is an important thing.’”

“I don’t – again, if the community doesn’t want the statue, the statue shouldn’t be there,” she added.

In other words, no biggie. It’s just a chunk of bronze or granite or whatever. Continue reading

School Board Fails on First Amendment

Tanner Cross   Photo credit: ABC11

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Loudoun County School Board has gone too far by disciplining a teacher for speaking in opposition to a proposed Board policy.

Tanner Cross, a physical education teacher, appeared before the Board at a meeting in May in opposition to a proposed policy regarding LGBTQ students. One of the provisions of the draft policy would require students to use the name and pronoun “that corresponds to [the student’s] consistently asserted gender identity.” According to the Washington Post, Cross said that he could not do that; he would never “affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa.” Continue reading

A Free Exchange of Left Wing Ideas

by James A. Bacon

There was an old joke back during the Cold War. An American diplomat was talking to a Russian diplomat. The American diplomat praised the superiority of the American way of life: “In our country, we are free to criticize President Reagan.” To which the Russian diplomat replied, “In our country, we are also free to criticize President Reagan.”

That old saw came to mind when I read The College Fix‘s re-cap of a controversy over a University of Virginia webinar in which the panelists expressed boundless contempt for white evangelical Christians. Here’s what one panelist had to say: “Because they are being selfish and because they don’t care, their racism, their sexism, their homophobia, their lack of belief in science, lack of belief and common sense may end up killing us all.”

Jim Sherlock wrote about the panelists’ hate speech in Bacon’s Rebellion, and then posted UVa President Jim Ryan’s written response, in which he said, “I assure you we’re taking this matter seriously and looking into it.”

Now The College Fix has followed up to see what came of Sherlock’s inquiry. After “looking into it,” the administration has decided the issue no longer needs review. Said UVa spokesman Brian Coy: “Our Provost and the Dean of the College looked into this and concluded that while the panel raised ideas that could certainly be deemed controversial, it was an entirely appropriate academic endeavor and did not violate any university policy.” Continue reading

Jeanine’s Memes

Jeanine’s Sunday memes at The Bull Elephant.

Woke-World Watch

Asians should be seen and not heard.
The Virginia Parent Teachers Association is threatening to abolish the PTA of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology after it elected a slate of candidates opposed to the implementation of Critical Race Theory-inspired policies.

Fairfax County public school officials engineered a new demographic profile — fewer Asians and more Blacks and Hispanics — at the elite public high school by scrapping the admissions test and explicitly using race/ethnicity as a criterion. TJ parents opposed to discrimination against Asians took over the school’s PTA organization in elections earlier this month, and an argument promptly broke out over whether Principal Ann Bonitatus should be allowed to vote in PTA meetings — something previous principals had not done.

The Virginia PTA weighed in, declaring that as a member of the executive committee, the principal does have voting rights. “The inclusion of the principal as a voting member of the EC is, in fact, an organizational standard across Virginia in our local unit bylaws,” said president-elect Jenna Alexander, according to the Daily Wire. Continue reading

Pseudo Shame at VMI

by Phil Leigh

Virginia Military Institute graduates familiar with the drumming out process know that real shame is emotionally one of the most painful experiences we can have. It makes us want to hide like the white-collar criminal covering his face with a newspaper during a perp walk. It is soul destroying and even the stuff of suicide.

As at other military colleges, VMI cadets must pledge that they will not lie, cheat, or steal and will not tolerate those who do. Decades ago, anyone convicted of such offenses by the school’s student-run Honor Court would have been drummed out at a midnight ceremony before the entire corps. As his classmates looked-on, each of the banished would be escorted to a taxi, which he would board to leave the campus forever. Recently I had breakfast with a 1960s-era VMI grad who described the process. He shuddered when telling the story and at the end frowned, paused, and shook his head in silence before changing the subject.

Today, VMI is flogging itself for the imagined sin of racism. But the actual experience of the mea culpas by virtue-signaling whites, including VMI grad and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, is not one of shame. It is really the opposite of shame. It is display. It is preening. It is an act of separating themselves from supposedly unaware whites. By embracing an ostensible shame, the self-flagellating whites are showing how superior they are compared to the rest of us. In their minds, each has transformed himself into a kind of honorary black person. Therefore, they reason, the guilt does not attach to them but only to other whites. . . and it is completely fake. Continue reading