A Crisis in Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Virginia

Secretary of Education Atif Qarni – Why is this man smiling”?

by James C. Sherlock

I urge those readers with experience as teachers and anyone else with expertise in education to review  a March 2020 presentation by Patty S. Pitts, Assistant Superintendent Teacher Education and Licensure Virginia Department of Education March 9, 2020. She discusses both reasons for teachers leaving Virginia public schools and the shortfalls in recruitment of their replacements. Her data  did not include the retirements and resignations since COVID.

Consider these data in light of the new expectations of teachers as reflected in the State Board of Education and the School Boards of Virginia Beach and Albemarle County policies written about in this space earlier.

The specific recommendations of the Commission on African American History Education in Virginia relative to professional development of teachers will be reviewed by the Virginia Board of Education on September 17th.

Click on and download those recommendations from the Governor’s Commission on African American History Education in Virginia.

I quote them here:

Professional Development Recommendations: 

Additionally, the Commission recognized that change in the delivery of content will only be successful if teachers and school leaders are appropriately supported and equipped to do so. The professional development subcommittee developed six key recommendations to ensure Virginia educators achieve proficiency in culturally relevant teaching and gain appropriate foundational knowledge in African American history. These recommendations are to:

  • Revise Virginia’s Teacher Evaluation Regulations and Virginia’s Uniform Performance standards for School Leaders to include cultural proficiency efficacy.
  • Require every Virginia educator to certify that they have enrolled in Cultural Competency Professional Development by 2022.
  • Allocate funding and personnel resources to develop and implement comprehensive professional development in the areas of cultural competency and African American History content for Virginia educators.
  • Mandate certification (Continuing Education Units) in African American History for all holders of education licenses issued by the Virginia Department of Education (this includes initial licensure and renewals).
  • Amend requirements for licensure endorsements in History/Social Science to require evidence of course study in African American History.
  • Require a credit in African American History as a new requirement for graduation in Virginia. The new elective course in African American History developed by VDOE and WHRO could be used to fulfill this requirement.

It is yours to judge from Ms. Pitts’ March presentation  the prospects for teacher hiring and retention in light of these new teacher professional development requirements.

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67 responses to “A Crisis in Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Virginia

  1. What do we tell Hispanics and Asians? What about mixed race folks? Are they ‘required’, if half African American and half white, to ‘choose’ which race they want to be?

  2. Yet another mandated training that is utterly useless. You would have to be out of your mind to be a school teacher at this precise moment. VDOE and every school board is going to get what they deserve. A teacher shortage crisis. The crack will turn into a fissure before the end of this year.

    By the way. In Western Loudoun County it is difficult to have internet connection for virtual learning. Wise Superinstupid Eric Williams has opened Woodgrove High School, Blue Ridge Middle School, and Round Hill Elementary so that those who cannot connect, well they come to the schools and sit in a classroom and finally connect to the internet for virtual learning. Case by case basis. 60 kids max per school. Admin decides how gets in and who does not. If this does not lead to a new school board and superinstupid I don’t know what will.

    • Lack of connectivity seems unbelievable when Loudoun is global leader in cloud/internet traffic?

      • that irony yes, then this: Highest Median income in the US

        Rank County State Median Household Income
        1 Loudoun County Virginia $134,464

        And, at least on paper, Loudoun is an excellent school system :

        Except for one school – Loudoun County has very high SOL reading scores for 6th grade across the schools in it’s system:

        School Name Pass Rate

        Brambleton Middle School 92.91
        J. Michael Lunsford Middle 92.1
        Eagle Ridge Middle 91.73
        Stone Hill Middle 91.02
        Mercer Middle 90.54
        Trailside Middle 89.91
        Belmont Ridge Middle 88.89
        River Bend Middle 88.21
        Farmwell Station Middle 86.11
        Harmony Middle 83.69
        Harper Park Middle 83.18
        Blue Ridge Middle 82.95
        J. Lupton Simpson Middle 80.75
        Seneca Ridge Middle 78.77
        Smart’s Mill Middle 71.08
        Sterling Middle 61.67

        and even more impressive, their high scores despite significant numbers of economically disadvantaged :

        Race Disadvantaged

        Asian N 70,918
        Asian Y 22,588

        Black N 111,216
        Black Y 172,040

        Hispanic N 85,520
        Hispanic Y 135,187

        White N 460,043
        White Y 156,596

        albeit, with the performance gaps between the races:

        Subject Race Disadvantaged Pass Rate
        English:Reading Asian N 95.66
        English:Reading Black N 80.33
        English:Reading Hispanic N 80.29
        English:Reading White N 90.96

        English:Reading Asian Y 77.22
        English:Reading Black Y 66.92
        English:Reading Hispanic Y 54.36
        English:Reading White Y 79.38

        On paper at least, Loudoun looks better than
        many school systems in Virginia in that it’s scores are
        not only high but consistently so across all schools in
        the county. There is little performance disparities between the schools but still between the raees.

        which goes to the current point of a perceived need for teachers to have ” culturally relevant teaching and foundational knowledge in African American history.”

        One might think that is some in the education hierarchy feel there is a need for “culturally relevant” knowledge and skills, that indeed, the cultures themselves are different in ways that do affect learning.

        But looking at the data above, it’s not just blacks that are involved even in a good performing county like Loudoun, Hispanice and Whites also score lower than Asians.

        One might hope that the current efforts are also a pendulum and as more folks look at more data – that they’ll realize that it’s more than just one race involved in the bigger issue of trying to educate kids of different cultures – both the way they learn as well as the way their culture approaches learning and education – and to acknowledge that the Asian culture seems better adapted to the current teaching processes of many schools – at least in Virginia which, to it’s credit does a good job collecting demographic and SOL data AND making it easily available for researching.

        I’d actually think that people showing the data to these school systems and VDOE would have more impact than negative criticisms.

      • James Wyatt Whitehead V

        Western Loudoun is more like Clarke County and Jefferson County (WV). Supposedly western Loudoun has more miles of gravel roads than any other county in Virginia. All sorts of little rural nooks and crannies in small clusters such as Trappe, St. Louis, Unison, Landmark, Willisville, Philomont, and Conklin. Ironically they are settlements created by freed slaves of the Reconstruction Era. Now gentrified by the elites of Northern Virginia.

  3. Good catch. Jim. Let there be no mistake, Qarni and Lane are leading an overhaul in the educational system that reaches into every corner of the system. Just amazing. And the mainstream media is reporting none of this.

    • Hint to Jim Bacon: “Qarni and Lane are (NOT) leading an overhaul in the educational system that reaches into every corner of the system.”

      Instead, Qarni and Lane are leading a collapse of Virginia’s public K-12 education system like the collapse that already has happened in Virginia’s public higher education. It has collapsed from a system of education into a purely commercial enterprise that is being build solely to serve the financial and political interests of those who run what used to schools that teach but no longer do. Hence, these are money laundering operations that are similar in style and function to Virginia’s state government today, that is run solely for the benefit of those political and financial interests of those who run the state and its government, and their crony allies.

  4. I don’t see how these recommendations, if adopted, would themselves lead to an increase in teacher turnover. Teachers have to take courses periodically to renew their certificates. Many of the courses they have available to take are pretty useless. In the process of license renewal, they would just take this Cultural Competency training instead of something else.

    • Does the Cultural Competency course fall within the scope of CE’s? Is there an accredited course available for the teachers?

    • Dick, there is no indication that I have seen that these new “cultural competency” courses will replace an existing requirement. They are presumptively additive.

      You and I and Nancy should attend a cultural competency course together and see what we can learn. Perhaps we can become better people.

      Virginia is just going to have to get along with fewer public school teachers and fewer cops. Private security and private schools, pods and home schooling will replace them as supply rises to meet demand. The ones left out will be the same people the progressives purport to be trying to help.

      • Whoa, Captain. I was an SME, not a teacher. I could present material in a stand-up routine. It was only by a miracle that I never ran afoul of the Administration, save the time I smoked a cigar while giving the final exam. I thought it funny.

        College, in my time, was nothing like public schools, and I am not inclined to tackle the D.Es. in their arena.

        I’m just a poor backwoods mathematician trying to get by.

  5. Yeah, I don’t think adding training for cultural issues is the terrible thing some assert it is.

    A few years back, VDOE decided that the way that math was being taught needed updates and required all teachers to go learn about newer approaches.

    It’s also really an acknowledgment that the public schools in Virginia have participated in promoting misconceptions about how African Americans have been actually treated in Virginia and how that has impacted them possibly as related to outcomes where far fewer of them actually qualify and participate in things like AP and Magnet schools.

    Having said that, I wish those folks were a little less aggressive and a little more willing to interact meaningfully with the critics but fair to say also, some critics are just flat opposed to any of it anyhow.

    It’s really a no-win for public education. They get it from all sides all the time.

  6. The element to watch, the element which will have the deepest impact, is the bit about evaluating teachers on their “cultural proficiency efficacy.” That will be totally subjective, and a student or parent or colleague that wants somebody punished or ousted has just been handed a giant bat. The cry of “racism” is already echoing everywhere, with no easy defense. But this is more subtle and even harder to dispute.

    The additional training requirements? Eh. But I love history books and courses….What strikes me is first we are talking about increasing the focus on non-European experiences and contributions to American history within the existing curricula (agreed, no problem) but now we want a “segregated” course on the same topic. I’m not sure that second approach is superior to the first.

    • I agree about the giant bat but it will be used in many ways unrelated to race to get rid of teachers that don’t “fit in” with how the principle wants to run things.

      This is why you do need teacher groups who can bargain with management to ensure that there is fairness and equitable treatment of teachers. I don’t know about all of Virginia but some schools I’m familiar with are run like mini-fiefdoms… you do what the principle wants or you are toast – the specific weapon to get you may vary but you will be got.

      • That may be the case in more affluent divisions where the pay is high, but in the divisions that I work with, they are working hard to keep the staff they have. They realize if they run a teacher off, there’s not another to take their place. So in these instances, there’s really no objective need for unionization. Teachers call the shots, and they know that if they don’t like it where they are, they can get another job just down the road.

        Besides, the union mentality has killed my part of the state. Everyone is so used to having every whim sated that they don’t want to work anymore. One of the best examples is a strike that began when the coal company supplied a different soap in the miners’ washrooms than was specified in the union contract. Would it be worth lost instructional time if the principal couldn’t locate Folgers for the teachers’ lounge?

    • I agree. That is the heart of the matter right there. Unfortunately, I have little confidence in the subjective judgement of those who are trying to force this on our teachers.

      I also agree with Mr. Whitehead, above. If adopted, this is going cause our current teacher shortage to escalate.

  7. With many details lacking, to some degree it comes down to trust. Is Atif Qarni trustworthy?

    Qarni has barred the school’s PTA from a participatory role in an upcoming “listening session” on the admissions issue. Is that the way to implement change?

    Has Atif Qarni apologized to Asra Nomani for accusing her of being part of an anti-Muslim hate group?

    This isn’t just a local issue, we can look at other implementations to see how this might play out. It’s the same play book after all.

    “With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, headteachers have come under increasing pressure to signal that they are on the ‘right side of history’ on a wide range of issues.”

    “This has meant modifications to school curricula and pastoral policies that have been rushed through with little consultation with parents or staff. As a result, pupils are being subjected to an even more suffocating form of ‘woke’ education.”

    “For their part, many teachers have attended ‘unconscious bias’ training sessions, despite the fact that the science behind such courses has been largely discredited.”

    “Others have been advised to read up on books such as White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (which claims that all white people are racist and that their denials are further proof of racism) and How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi (its thesis being self-explanatory).”

    “One teacher told me about a school assembly over Zoom in the early days of the lockdown in which pupils were berated for their ‘white privilege’.”

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-8726235/ANDREW-DOYLE-children-brainwashed-divisive-new-dogma.html

    No thank you.

  8. If something is required, then by definition it is not elective.

  9. Well, this is going to cause a rukus:

    ” Fairfax County Superintendent Touts Change to Elite Magnet School Admissions

    Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County is often ranked among the best in the country, but Black and Hispanic students are underrepresented

    Virginia’s largest school system is proposing a radical overhaul of how it admits students to an elite magnet school in an effort to develop a more diverse student body.

    The proposal touted Tuesday by Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand would eliminate a high-stakes admissions test used to judge applicants for the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Instead, students who meet qualifications that include a 3.5 grade-point average and an algebra background would be admitted on a lottery basis from multiple geographic regions within the county.”

    https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/fairfax-county-superintendent-touts-change-to-elite-magnet-school-admissions/2419369/

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Mr. Larry they are going to kick out Asians and South Asians to make room for blacks and hispanics who lack readiness for TJ. America’s number one ranked high school will be very different from now on. I expect the Fairfax superintendent and school board to double down before they listen to the concerns of outraged parents whose sons/daughters meet the high merit standards for TJ.

      • James Wyatt Whitehead V

        What was it that Ibram Kendi said?
        “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”

        The actions at TJ are the critical race theory in action. I can’t tell the difference between Kendi, the Fairfax School Board, and George Wallace.

      • James – you are a polite inquisitor unlike some miscreants about 😉

        I guess I don’t see it as kicking out anyone but re-looking at the current criteria which I’ll be honest, I do not know. Is it pure QCA? Is it QCA only for certain courses and others don’t count or what? Can one qualify if they are highly qualified in some subjects but have not taken others?

        It looks to be they are proposing minimum standards for acceptance 3.5 but again – is this only in required subjects? only SOLs? , etc?

        Here’s what I probably do agree with and that is I do not think people who are not really qualifed be admitted but I probably do support a lottery for the ones that are qualified.

        Did you see where they’re going to do this for Governor’s schools also?

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          Fairfax education leaders are lazy. They don’t want to do the hard work required. They want a quick fix to say they achieved some sort of make believe critical race theory victory.

          The real solution? Ante up and kick in the resources and bread and invest it specifically towards Black and Latino students. Start at K and follow thru with the investment for the next 9 years. Small classes and year round schooling too. Readiness for TJ will be achieved on this path. It will be authentic and it will be a victory that deserves a parade.

          • Lotteries are used in other places and word is that Virginia is going to do that for Governor’s schools:

            interesting article:

            ” That may be changing soon, as Virginia officials prepare plans to dramatically alter the admissions’ policy at TJ and 18 other gifted high schools across the state.”

            https://www.startribune.com/elite-public-schools-in-virginia-elsewhere-seek-diversity/572079712/

          • James Wyatt Whitehead V

            Mr. Larry I am so unlucky. I hate lotteries. Whenever I pull a chance card out of the monopoly deck I never get the one that says “you collect an inheritance.” I get this one:
            ?&targetx=0&targety=0&imagewidth=700&imageheight=500&modelwidth=700&modelheight=500&backgroundcolor=54160B&orientation=0

          • ah, we do share things! 😉 I think I MIGHT have bought one lottery ticket in my entire life… and I did lose my entire $50 “budget” at blackjack. But i do buy stuff online and that’s also a crap shoot at times… Took me 3 tries to get a functioning laptop.

          • James Wyatt Whitehead V

            Fairfax education leaders may want to consider marketing the TJ Lottery along the lines of Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket. They could sell a ton of Wonka TJ Chocolate Bars this way.

          • re: ” After all, it is math…”

            and in the end, if you believe census projections they will prevail anyhow – just a question of time………..

            If Conservatives play their cards right – they’ll get not only the whites, but the Asians and perhaps even the Hispanics!

            Let’s see what do they tell the Asians that won’t piss off the whites and hispanics?

        • Say.. who is to say the Asians won’t figure out the lottery “better” than the others anyhow?

          😉

          Also – who is to say that parents won’t demand more TJ type schools – enough for all who are qualified?

          Again – I’m NOT in favor of admitting unqualified but I do ask exactly what criteria defines qualified.

          • “Say.. who is to say the Asians won’t figure out the lottery “better” than the others anyhow?”

            After all, it is math…

          • LarrytheG – “I’m NOT in favor of admitting unqualified but I do ask exactly what criteria defines qualified.”

            That is best determined by an admissions test, not GPA which is subjective from one school to another. Grades even vary greatly from one teacher to another within the same school.

            BTW – I mentioned that my son struggled in Spanish at MLW. He took a placement test for Spanish and it correctly predicted that he would have difficulty. It determined that he was borderline “qualified” to take Spanish at the level he did, but found that he was at a severe disadvantage compared to others who were more qualified.

          • re: ” That is best determined by an admissions test”

            ah yes, but what should it test?

          • Surly you jest. How about testing for proficiency in the subjects to be studied?

            Are you actually arguing that we don’t have the ability to measure proficiency in in reading, math and science with standardized tests? Haven’t you been citing test results yourself as a measure of school success? If you don’t believe test results have any validity, then why do you reference them so frequently?

          • no, not at all.

            Are we talking about admission to a magnet school?

            what is the admission criteria?

            why is it limited to only math and science when colleges and the economy want people with other skills and knowledge also?

            re: ” Haven’t you been sighting test results yourself as a measure of school success? If you don’t believe test results have any validity, then why do you reference them so frequently?”

            school success – how many in that school end up over and above minimum standards.

            is that different than tests for individuals at the higher proficiency levels as a means for more opportunity to more education?

          • I didn’t say the admission test was limited to math and science. They also test reading, essay writing, logic and other factors.

            If anyone believes the existing criteria are wrong then make the case, but moving away from merit based admission would be a mistake. You have said yourself it’s a very successful school. Why take a wrecking ball to what’s working while practically ignoring what isn’t working within the Commonwealth? That makes no sense.

            Here are the components for admission to TJJSST (Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology):

            Grades and course work
            Math, science, and reading test in November
            Teacher recommendations
            SIS essay with math prompt

            https://katedalby.com/get-tj-update/

            Overall, I’m not convinced that the above criteria which includes an admission test is not working. Unequal outcome is not proof of improper admission criteria, and certainly not justification for an alternative lottery method.

          • Nathan, I don’t know the criteria nor the weighting and the link you provided seems to be something other than TJ…

            But let me give an example. Some folks want to go to business school – say at UVA – can they find a path from K12 to a magnet school and then to college?

            What is the mission of TJ in plain terms?

            Is it just math and science? The actual economy wants more than just math and science, right?

            Most Higher Ed grads are not math and science, right?

          • Larry – At times you make valid points, but you seem to be arguing both sides of the same issue with regard to the validity of tests as a measure of academic proficiency.

            “school success – how many in that school end up over and above minimum standards.”

            Schools aren’t tested. Students are tested individually and given scores. School success is measured by the collective scores of its students. The tests either have validity, or they do not. Pick a side and make your case.

            “is that different than tests for individuals at the higher proficiency levels as a means for more opportunity to more education?”

            Every child who finishes middle school in the Commonwealth has an “opportunity for more education.” That’s not at issue. What we’re talking about is admission to an elite school, and which children are best prepared to take advantage of what that school offers. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology emphasizes science and technology.

            Ideally, we would offer all parents a choice of what school might offer their child the best opportunity for success in school and in life. The problem is, schools like Thomas Jefferson are in short supply. So why not seek to create more by offering parents the opportunity to use their tax dollars at a private school?

          • re: ” Schools aren’t tested.” – oh but they are.

            their mission is to provide a basic education to as many as they can and they ARE tested on that. See No child left behind.

            it’s not a side guy. It’s basic facts.

            re: ” Every child who finishes middle school in the Commonwealth has an “opportunity for more education.” That’s not at issue. What we’re talking about is admission to an elite school, and which children are best prepared to take advantage of what that school offers. ”

            and the question is – do all kids in K12 receive the same consideration for admission – based on what criteria?

            re: ” The problem is, schools like Thomas Jefferson are in short supply. So why not seek to create more by offering parents the opportunity to use their tax dollars at a private school?”

            I actually support that and have for some time with proisos:

            1. – those private schools have to accept all demographics and if they do not have room for all – use lotteries or establish criteria that do not unfairly favor some over others.

            2. – they must be as transparent and accountable as public schools are.

            3.- voters must support the use of their tax dollars in that way

          • Larry – Okay, you may have finally hit on a valid point, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the article or admission to TG.

            “But let me give an example. Some folks want to go to business school – say at UVA – can they find a path from K12 to a magnet school and then to college?”

            Each Governor’s School has a specialty, but each school only pulls students from within its region. Parents who want to send their child to a Governor’s School can either move to the region with a school most closely aligned with their child’s interest, or try to get accepted at the one in their region, even though it’s emphasis may not be in sync with that child’s interests and aptitudes.

            Additionally, not everyone can move to accommodate a child’s academic interests, and not all children within a family are similarly inclined.

            http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/governors_school_programs/academic_year/index.shtml

            My son’s primary interest was (and is) science and technology, but schools in the Richmond area have a relationship with Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies. He didn’t have the option of applying for admission to Thomas Jefferson, nor could we have arranged transportation there.

          • LarrytheG
            re: ” Schools aren’t tested.” – oh but they are.

            No. Students are tested, but schools are graded based on the test results of the students. Once again you are arguing nonsense.

            “and the question is – do all kids in K12 receive the same consideration for admission – based on what criteria?”

            How can you object to the criteria when you don’t even know what it is? Besides, I showed you an outline of the criteria. These are government funded schools. It’s not a secret.

            You are so interested in countering whatever I write that you don’t seem to even have a point any more. What’s your point?

            Mine point is quite simple. Governor’s schools should admit students based on merit, not a lottery. The merit and achievement approach is very much in keeping with its purpose for being. Lotteries are a way to waste money hoping to strike it rich (and then more often than not go bankrupt if you do strike it rich).

            “Purpose of the Governor’s Schools”

            “…The Virginia Governor’s School Program has been designed to assist divisions as they meet the needs of a small population of students whose learning levels are remarkably different from their age-level peers. The foundation of the Virginia Governor’s School Program centers on best practices in the field of gifted education and the presentation of advanced content to able learners.”

            http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/governors_school_programs/

          • re: ” “Because if you don’t know, how can you blindly support – either.”

            well, it appears that Sherlock posted this:

            “Through a competitive admissions process that selects students based upon their demonstrated aptitude and passion for studies in the scientific, mathematical, and technological fields, the TJHSST Admissions Office evaluates and considers prospective students’ admission test scores, academic achievement, personal essays, and teacher recommendations. Applications are reviewed by independent selection committees composed of school administrators, counselors, and teachers from schools within the participating school districts.”

            If that is the actual qualification criteria – sounds a bit loosey goosey to me.

            If someone really had a passion for history, is there a path for them? If someone has a real passion for business – is there a path for them?

            I think the thinking that academic math & science success is a good proxy for economic success may well not necessarily be the actual 21st century economy these days.

            We need to encourage and motivate passion and competence in more than just science and math IMHO.

            Critical Thinking? You got my support. That’s a skill that is sorely needed in a lot of fields. I’ll take that competency in a physician any day over one that was good in math and science or even biology for that matter.

            I think we need to take another look at how we do magnet schools.

        • Yeah, I don’t think there is equal and equitable opportunity if your parents have to move because where you live doesn’t offer higher ed for your talent but they do for others.

          Making science and math the primary criteria is not really reflective of what the economy wants. There are lots of other fields -like business or for that matter music or legal or dozens of other specialities and in my mind the purpose of k12 is a basic education and if you’re going to offer more than that – then do so on an equal and equitable basis – that actually does reflect what the economy wants.

          Don’t tell kids that if they’re not good in math and science – that they lose.

        • well no, not nonsense. The are real consequences of schools not meeting those standards and it is their primary mission.

          re: ” How can you object to the criteria when you don’t even know what it is? Besides, I showed you an outline of the criteria. These are government funded schools. It’s not a secret.”

          Because if you don’t know, how can you blindly support – either.
          No, what a non-govt site asserts is not necessarily the facts. Give me a link to the actual ones. It does matter what they are in specifics and in weighting.

          re: ” Mine point is quite simple. Governor’s schools should admit students based on merit, not a lottery. ”

          the counter argument is that is – if everyone who has a talent or potential can be served and if they cannot then how do you restrict access – what criteria and is it fair and equitable to all students who are competing? And if you don’t have enough slots for all those that are qualified – do you do a lottery or do you keep tightening criteria so that only the very best in very narrow fields can get in?

          I say the process needs to be looked at – and not blindly defended even if most don’t even really know the actual process and standards.

          That’s my view. It’s not “nonsense” at all… I think more than a few folks will feel the same way in fact.

          I still think the PRIMARY purpose of K-12 is a basic minimum education for all students. Beyond that , it’s a question of resources a fair access to all students to higher level resources. It cannot be a narrow and selective approach that favors some and disfavors others. If we’re going to offer “advanced” courses – do it for all subjects that various different students would excel at.

          If a kid is good at violin – would we have that as an option for magnet school with different qualification criteria than math or science?

          • A list of the the various Governor’s Schools in Virginia, with descriptions, so that you may determine what subject(s), if any, each of them specializes in teaching:

            http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/governors_school_programs/academic_year/index.shtml.

          • LarrytheG:
            “Because if you don’t know, how can you blindly support – either.”

            Wrong again. I’m not blind to it. It’s you who is in need of understanding, but you seem unwilling to do any research yourself. You prefer to just critique whatever I write in an effort to help you. No more. Do your own research.

            My family has navigated the Governor’s School admission process for two children. We also know many others with children who have attended a Governor’s school.

            The families with children at Thomas Jefferson are not blind to the admissions process either. I’d say they are rather intimately familiar with it. But they are being shut out of the discussion.

            The success of Thomas Jefferson also testifies to the merits of what is being done currently.

            And in case you are interested.

            “The school, which boasts two-thirds of Virginia’s National Merit scholarship semifinalists and a 100 percent Advance Placement testing participation rate, is also 79 percent minority.”

            https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/11/an-unfair-push-racial-equality-thomas-jefferson/

            The burden of proof is therefore solely on those who seek to change what is clearly working. In a sane world, it would be of primary importance to move slowly and cautiously to ensure that no harm is done. But this is not a sane administration, at least in this regard.

      • Just to level set this conversation, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is the highest rated high school in the country. It’s demographics in 2019-2020 were 60% male and almost 73% Asian.

        All TJ students took AP classes in 2019 – 2020. All of them took AP exams. All of them got 3 or better (college credit) on all the AP exams they took. Started the school year with 1809 students – two transferred.

        Jefferson’s science and technology research laboratories include:
        Astronomy & Astrophysics
        Automation & Robotics
        Biotechnology & Life Sciences
        Chemical Analysis & Nanochemistry
        Communication Systems
        Computer Systems
        Energy Systems
        Engineering Design
        JUMP Lab
        Microelectronics
        Mobile and Web Application Development
        Neuroscience
        Oceanography & Geophysical Systems
        Quantum Physics & Optics
        Prototyping & Engineering Materials

        Perhaps not every kid would thrive there.

        So here is the Admissions Process before it is destroyed by the state:

        “Through a competitive admissions process that selects students based upon their demonstrated aptitude and passion for studies in the scientific, mathematical, and technological fields, the TJHSST Admissions Office evaluates and considers prospective students’ admission test scores, academic achievement, personal essays, and teacher recommendations. Applications are reviewed by independent selection committees composed of school administrators, counselors, and teachers from schools within the participating school districts.”

        • It’s a good and substantial list but it does not cover all subjects where talent and knowledge can also be high and deserving of higher level education.

          I think anytime you limit a magnet school to certain subjects, you’re automatically not providing opportunity to those who might excel in other subjects.

          The point of K-12 education is:

          1. – provide every kid with a basic education

          2. – try to add on to that for jobs that are in the economy

          Would we, for instance, teach advanced auto repair ?

          or if someone is showing real potential at piano ?

          someone who sucks at math and science actually show promise in a legal or medical path?

          Finally – how about education itself – is there a path for someone who wants to become an educator perhaps even in reading and learning disabilities?

          • LarrytheG – You ask many questions that would be answered if you bothered to just go to the links provided. Or maybe do some Googling.

            I suggest less writing and more reading.

        • re: ” “Through a competitive admissions process that selects students based upon their demonstrated aptitude and passion for studies in the scientific, mathematical, and technological fields, the TJHSST Admissions Office evaluates and considers prospective students’ admission test scores, academic achievement, personal essays, and teacher recommendations. Applications are reviewed by independent selection committees composed of school administrators, counselors, and teachers from schools within the participating school districts.”

          Actually sounds fairly subjective to be honest – and as such, fairly easily modified to put more or less emphasis on the subjective parts since they are not actually test-score based.

        • To be fair, some modifications to the admission process could make it better and more fair, but there are clearly proposals being discussed that would be disastrous. The tool for modifications should be a scalpel, not a wrecking ball. The key is to proceed openly, cautiously and thoughtfully. Don’t just ram something through.

          One area of potential improvement would be to ensure that all schools within the region offer the appropriate classes at the necessary grade levels. Potential applicants shouldn’t be penalized because their school or district didn’t provide the appropriate coursework.

          It should also be recognized that some object to the very concept of schools tailored for the gifted. That’s unfortunate, because without public schools for the gifted, only the very rich would have this opportunity.

          • I agree with much said here and especially if some schools offer some courses and others not that are essentially prerequisites for later consideration or qualifications. That’s essentially unethical.

            I do not object to higher course offerings for more able and talented – as long as there is some level of equity and fairness of opportunity – both at the entrance level – and in the prerequisites course offerings.

            You can’t, in good conscience, in my view, say that 3 AP courses are required and not all schools offer them.

            We want ALL kids who have higher abilities and talents to have a path to more competency. The problem is that resources are limited and choices have to be made – and when those choices are made, it’s imperative that they be done in a way to maintain equity.

            If we have a bunch of kids who are able and talented and not enough resources to satisfy all their needs – then we have to decide if a lottery is more (or less) fair than tightening requirements to squeeze out the folks that are good but not at the top.

            You will not find a stronger supporter of education and public education than I – education is the key to a good life where one cares for himself and his family and does not need entitlements.

            It’s not a zero-sum game either. Our economy begs for better educated workers.

    • We have many schools in the Commonwealth that are almost completely failing to deliver a decent education to our youth. So where is dramatic change being implemented? Why the school doing spectacular work of course!

      And regarding grade point average vs. admission testing, I’ve witnessed that up close with my son. He was admitted to Maggie L Walker (MLW) which focuses heavily on foreign language studies. He got straight A’s in Spanish classes locally, but struggled in Spanish at MLW. The Spanish taught locally didn’t adequately prepare him.

      Placement in schools and classes isn’t about winning a valuable prize. It’s about getting the proper fit for each student. Lotteries should have no place in admissions. We don’t need winners and losers with regard to our children. We need better schools for all. We need vouchers.

      If some want to teach their children to be woke and broke, that’s up to them.

    • Saw that. It is anti-Asian on its face. The new grading rules ala Albemarle County will make sure everyone gets a 3.5 and kids will no longer have to get the answers right in algebra. Every kid in Fairfax County will be in the Lottery. And that “Thomas Jefferson” name will have to go.

      • How are anti-Asian quotas any different from the anti-Semitism of Jewish quotas? The Jewish quota at Harvard for example once capped the number of Jewish students to a maximum of 15% of the student body. That was instituted by Harvard president A. Lawrence Lowell – a confirmed bigot. Here we go again.

  10. Story in Daily Progress: Enrollment in Albemarle County Schools drops by 717 Students. About 338 more students than last year opted to homeschool this year but officials don’t have data on where the other students went.

    This drop was before the new grading rules will take hold but a year after https://www.k12albemarle.org/our-division/anti-racism-policy/policy.

    Perhaps abandonment of the schools by students will roughly align with the abandonment by teachers. My money is on the teachers to “win” that race.

    • VDOE will not release a county by county enrollment report until some time after Columbus Day. Meanwhile thousands of students across the Commonwealth, what happened to them? Where did the go? Home school? Private school? Moved out of state? No school? Education leaders need to know the answers to this so that strategic action can be taken. Middle of October is a bit too late perhaps. Next thing you know it’s Thanksgiving followed by Xmas and half of the year is over and no meaningful action is taken.

    • Or parents being evicted and forced to move to another district??

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Fauquier School Board finally reported back to me. As of September 4th their were 748 fewer students than at the same time last year. Last year Fauquier had 10,989 students. As of September the number is 10,388.
      504 fewer elementary students,
      193 fewer middle school students,
      only 51 less for high school.
      5.5% fewer students.
      End of Marking Period 1 is Friday. Grades will be posted. I wonder if that will impact the enrollment figures?

      • Plus, on top of that, learning in Fauquier public schools will plunge perhaps to near zero, and better yet, no one will ever know whether or not it does, given fake grades and fake curriculum.

      • Sounds like it’s time for 5.5% less spending, 5.5% fewer teachers, 5.5% fewer administrators, etc.

        Virginia’s public schools are failing. Parents are taking their kids out of the public schools – some to homeschooling, some to private schools. That’s what happens when the “free” public schools (a state run monopoly in Virginia) fails.

        Time to start firing teachers and administrators.

        • Correction to “Time to start firing teachers and administrators:”

          Time to starting firing teachers and administrators and the entire ruling political class in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          Mr. DJ there is no doubt there will be a price for educators to pay. I do feel bad for honest educators trying to get the job done. But they will be a casualty of the collective outrage and backlash that is coming to education.

          Another factor is that for the first time a great number of parents are actually peering into what is happening in education thanks to the access virtual learning has provided. Teachers better carefully consider every word, every lesson, every resource, and the visual a Zoom class offers. This time around it is not just Santa watching. Everyone is watching.

  11. Baconator with extra cheese

    The good news is that maybe and just maybe… people who have always pulled a party ticket on election day may wake up and ask the tough questions. I’m not saying they’ll switch parties, because the VA GOP is a POS, but they may decide to primary some nuts and become a bit more centrist…. which is a win for us all… mostly because again the Virginia GOP is a POS.

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Centrism appears to be dead. You can view centrism at the funeral parlor. Unless centrism’s first name is Lazarus you will hear from them for a good while.

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