Author Archives: sherlockj

VDOE Does Define Educational Equity as Equal Outcomes

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane

by James C. Sherlock

An African American Superintendent’s Advisory Council (AASAC) was formed by the Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2020.

It is charged “to develop policy recommendations to advance African American students’ academic success and social emotional well being to inform VDOE priorities and strategies”.

It has proven extremely influential.

I have yet to find an AASAC recommendation that has not been adopted by the Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) and VDOE in drafting and approving regulations and standards.

Given that track record, I will present below the recommendations presented by AASAC on March 17, 2021, to the Virginia Board of Education’s (VBOE) Special Committee to Review the Standards of Accreditation.

These actual recommendations will perhaps quell some of the controversy on this site about what the left intends for Virginia schools. Continue reading

Marx, White Moral Panic and a White Liberal’s Rosary

Derrick Bell, the father of Critical Race Theory

by James C. Sherlock

A couple of days ago Dick Sizemore-Hall published CRT and Virginia History here.

Dick is an excellent essayist. That one was the exception that proves the rule.

He indicated early in the more-than-1,500 word piece that he would discuss “the legitimacy of this antagonism regarding CRT.” I actually looked forward to hearing his point of view on that subject.

But he never got around to it.

He may actually have forgotten that was what he set out to do. Instead he recited the history of racism in Virginia from the perspective of a white man from Richmond.

He named me several times. Yet he ignored my well-documented position that CRT-driven educational policies threaten the futures of young black students. He wrote instead that people like me either ignore or deny the history of racism.

That was, of course, a classic straw man fallacy. This one has the singular disadvantages of being false and he has ample reason to know it. Continue reading

VDOE’s Radical Approach to SEL Far Exceeds Its Legislative Mandate

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane

by James C. Sherlock

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane is running into fierce public resistance to draft SEL regulations. See the 409 comments so far.  They overwhelmingly oppose what he has offered as a draft SEL instruction in his April 23 memo.

The basic problem is apparent.

The Board of Education/VDOE are citing laws for authority in regulation writing that do not authorize the regulations they publish.

The 2016 Republican-controlled General Assembly approved House Bill 895 and Senate Bill 336, now Code of Virginia § 22.1-253.13:4. Standard 4. Student achievement and graduation requirements subsection D.:

The graduation requirements established by the Board of Education pursuant to the provisions of subdivisions D 1, 2, and 3 shall apply to each student who enrolls in high school as (i) a freshman after July 1, 2018; (ii) a sophomore after July 1, 2019; (iii) a junior after July 1, 2020; or (iv) a senior after July 1, 2021) In establishing graduation requirements, the Board shall:

1. Develop and implement, in consultation with stakeholders representing elementary and secondary education, higher education, and business and industry in the Commonwealth and including parents, policymakers, and community leaders in the Commonwealth, a Profile of a Virginia Graduate that identifies the knowledge and skills that students should attain during high school in order to be successful contributors to the economy of the Commonwealth, giving due consideration to critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship.

Continue reading

VDOE to Take Over Child Care

by James C. Sherlock

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

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

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

Virginia Needs a Constitutional Amendment to Elect the Board of Education

by James C. Sherlock

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is time. Continue reading

VDOE Regulation Officially Nonsensical

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane

by James C. Sherlock

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

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

I know, you don’t have to say it.

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

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

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

Continue reading

Virginia’s Updated “Regulations Governing Educational Services for Gifted Students” Has Temporarily Disappeared

James Lane, Secretary of Public Obfuscation and Obstruction Education

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes you just need to go to the documents to see what the Virginia Department of Education is up to. This example will tell you everything you want to know.

Each agency proposing a new or revised regulation is required by Virginia law to post a “Proposed Agency Background Document” on the “Virginia Regulatory Town Hall” website.

Turns out that those postings are occasionally fabulous. This is one of those times. One can see the wheels turning, including when the wheels go off the rails.

I have dissected one of particular interest to parents – Regulations Governing Educational Services for Gifted Students [8 VAC 20 ‑ 40]. 

Continue reading

Fall Elections Threaten Northam’s Radical Education Team

Qarni

by James C. Sherlock

Politics is a contact sport, and the two people in the Northam administration most likely to be blindsided are Secretary of Education Atif Qarni and Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane.

I say blindsided — they won’t see it coming — because the hits will come from their own team. This isn’t about whether a reader thinks they have earned it or not. It is about politics.

Lane

I think it likely that Glenn Youngkin will be the Republican nominee for Governor and Jason Miyares the Republican pick for Attorney General.

If so, three things are likely to happen. First, both races will be competitive. Second, voters will turn out in droves in protest of the education policies of the Northam administration. Finally, If Terry McAuliffe, the presumptive Democratic nominee, feels threatened, he will flush Qarni and Lane one way or the other.

They should freshen up their resumes. Continue reading

Chesapeake Regional Medical Center Sues Sentara – Again

by James C. Sherlock

A tip of the hat to my friends at Checks and Balances Project for alerting us to a new civil suit filed April 27 against Sentara by Chesapeake Regional Medical Center (CRMC).

I will comment on Sentara’s response to the suit when it is available.

The complaint alleges various instances of tortious interference by Sentara with CRMC’s business and conspiracy to do the same. I recommend you read the complaint as filed. It is quite a story.

Although I am familiar with only part of the evidence in this specific case, that being Sentara’s successful intervention against CRMC’s COPN application for open heart surgery, the other allegations match decades of Sentara business practices.

Continue reading

VDOE Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Standards to Use Schools to Create New Leftists

The Governor approves leftist SEL standards for public schools

by James C. Sherlock

The Virginia Department of Education has posted — sort of — for citizen comment its draft Social Emotional Learning (SEL) standards. (Please note: the link to the VDOE citizen comment page has been corrected.)

These draft standards represent an overt attempt to turn school children into social justice warriors of the Democratic left. There is no rational defense to counter that observation — the document is awash in evidence.

It takes considerable curiosity and some experience with the system to find the Draft Standards, the comment page and the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA) page for this particular action. It turns out that there is good reason for the hide and seek.

VDOE wants no one outside the school system to read it much less comment on it. Continue reading

A Positive View of the Performance of Two Key General Assembly Members

Jason Miyares speaks on the floor of the General Assembly

Sen. Chap Petersen speaking on senate floor last year. Credit: Virginia Mercury

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia has some dreadful members of its General Assembly. We spend more time writing about them than we do on those who are exemplary.

I am going to focus on two that I truly admire, Senator Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, and Delegate Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach.

It is hard to relate in words the true impact of Virginia’s elimination of the death penalty.  Jason Miyares is a long-time friend of mine, a former prosecutor, my delegate and a candidate for Attorney General. He recently spoke to this issue on the floor of the House of Delegates in opposition to the bill.

He never mentioned either party, any other politician or his own candidacy. Continue reading

Hospitals 1, Patients 0

by James C. Sherlock

Since January 1 of this year, after a court battle won in late December 2020 by the Trump Justice Department, the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) has required hospitals to post median payer-specific negotiated rates.

I figured the fix was in when most hospitals in Virginia still haven’t complied. The Virginia Department of Health’s vhi.org data contractor could have done it for all of them with data it already collects.

Sure enough, on April 27, the Biden administration’s CMS proposed repealing the transparency requirement. The elimination of this rule will be the latest casualty of the political power of the hospitals, especially with Democratic politicians. Continue reading

Analysis Needed to Back Up VDOE Policy Changes

by James C. Sherlock

Many dramatic changes in school policy are being made and contemplated by the Virginia Department of Education. The references justifying the changes are inevitably academic “studies.”  

I’m sorry, but academics can and do design studies to provide whatever results they are looking for. That is why so many are not replicable – much like push polling. Tailor the inquiry with only the carefully worded questions that will yield favorable results. Delete any that may not support the objectives.

I often wonder if VDOE conducts any original research using Virginia data to support the changes they implement. If they do, I have never seen it.

VDOE has massive decision support databases. I use them regularly. One of the newer data troves is the 2020-2021 Virginia Educator Ethnicity and Race data.

I decided to run an experiment to prove the case for such research. Continue reading

Virginia School Superintendent Supports Accelerated Math Pathway

Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James F. Lane

Dr. James F. Lane, Supervisor of Public Instruction, has been gracious enough to address with me his thoughts on the the Virginia Department of Education Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative (VMPI).

The headline for readers of this column is that he will not support any program that eliminates acceleration in mathematics.

I sent him my column this morning that addressed VMPI and recommended a program of statistical analysis of 40 elementary schools in Fairfax County followed, if justified by that analysis, by a pilot of VMPI in those same schools in Fairfax County

His response:

“I’ve asked my team to provide a longer response with more detail, but please know that I do not support any movement to eliminate acceleration in mathematics and will work over the coming days to clarify my position on this should that not be clear.  Regardless of any discussions the team may or may not been having in the community, no recommendation of this kind will come from me.”

Continue reading

Research the Huge Differences in SOL Math Scores Among Black Children

Virginia’s VMPI model

by James C. Sherlock

The problem Virginia Department of Education Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative (VMPI) and associated equity changes are designed to solve is low math proficiency among black students.  

That math performance issue must be addressed beginning in kindergarten and before. At the end of the 3rd grade, even under Virginia’s new standards, every child is supposed to know how to multiply and to read. Both in math and reading, a child’s proficiency at the end of the third grade has proven in study after study to provide a key indicator of his or her academic performance going forward.  

The top 20 Fairfax County elementary schools ranked (by me using state data) by black student 2028-19 math SOL pass rate achieved a pass rate within that demographic of 96.5. In the bottom 20 schools in that same county, the mean black student pass rate was 52.5. See link to spreadsheet.

Those schools offer an excellent opportunity to examine whether VMPI and other equity changes proposed or adopted by VDOE will address those enormous differences in black student math education outcomes. Continue reading