Black-Majority School Boards Kept Black Children out of School Last Year

by James C. Sherlock

Those who have followed my work know that I have spent a great deal of time and effort exposing the horrible educations that many poor Black children get in Virginia.

This is another of those stories. A profoundly sad one.

The Virginia Public Access Project, in an visual report titled, Massive Educational Experiment, wrote:

By the end of the 2020-21 school year, nearly half of Virginia’s 1.2 million public school students were taught remotely. Another 47% received some combination of in-school and remote teaching. Fewer than 5% of all students stuck with in-person only.

We know absolutely that poor and minority kids have suffered the most from remote learning.

Yet the report shows that Black kids were disproportionately kept at home by Black majority school boards. To no discernible concern from the heights of our politics or culture.

Where were the press? The fevered opinion columnists of the left Where was the academy on this?

Where was the outrage from those who pose endlessly as having Black kids’ best interests in mind? Where was the NAACP? The Southern Poverty Law Center? Black Lives Matter? The teachers unions? VDOE? The Governor? The Attorney General?

The worst actors. The six school districts who kept their children out of school the most in order from the very worst were Portsmouth, Richmond City, Sussex County, Essex County, Petersburg and Greensville County.

Portsmouth and Richmond never opened their schools for in-person learning. The other four kept 95% to 99% of their students and staffs home all year.

Each of those districts is governed by a majority Black school board overseeing a majority Black school population and, with the exception of Essex County, a majority Black teaching staff.

So why they did they do that to the children in their care?

As I wrote earlier, I simply have no idea.

  • “Everyone did it” is demonstrably untrue. In many other Virginia school districts, the teachers wanted to teach, the kids wanted to learn and the school boards opened the doors to both with safety precautions. Not in these districts.
  • None of them, as far as I know, claimed they could not afford to open their schools.
  • The issue was not the size of the district. The school districts that remained closed and those that opened most fully each had similar spreads of sizes of student populations. Only Richmond was an outlier in student population. It is nearly twice the size of the largest of the districts that opened most fully (the largest was Hanover County).
  • Economically disadvantaged student bodies? Some of the ones that opened most fully had similar percentages of poor kids to those that largely or completely remained closed.

It continues today.

Richmond Public Schools (RPS) are giving their teachers a week off because they are “exhausted” and “ready to quit.” After less than two months of school. RPS will be closed from Monday, November 1st to Thursday, November 4th. Reopening just before the following weekend.

The Richmond school board voted 8-1 to approve the unscheduled holiday.

Bottom line. One of the cruelest things you can do to a kid is deny him an education. Cruelty is on full display here. As is the hypocrisy of the left.

The kids in Portsmouth, Richmond City, Sussex County, Essex County, Petersburg and Greensville County did nothing to deserve what was done to them.

Shame on those who did it.

Shame in particular on RPS running that school district exclusively for the adults. They remain utterly unconcerned with the effects of their decisions on the kids who depend upon them.

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33 responses to “Black-Majority School Boards Kept Black Children out of School Last Year”

  1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    From what I hear from my old friends still in the classroom is not good at all. There should be directive from the next governor to meet the 960 hours of instruction requirement by all means available. A few days back Mr. Bacon posted something that blew my lid off.

    1. killerhertz Avatar

      Can you share the source please?

  2. It’s beyond horrible and beyond inexcusable. Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, jokes that sending your kids to public school is child abuse, and I don’t think he thinks it is a joke any more. How much proof do we need that politicized public school education, with the catering to teacher unions and the junior political operatives as School Board members and even the PTAs being captured, needs to be challenged with school choice?
    And as to the majority black Boards, my observation of government contracting is that the set asides and affirmative action contracting goes to the well off, politically connected minorities, not to the truly trying to succeed, give a hand up minorities. Often the minority is only a front! I suspect something similar is at play with these School Boards – they are political operatives first…

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      I just know that it breaks my heart.

  3. vicnicholls Avatar

    I go up to school boards to speak and have had the African Americans nod their heads. They want kids educated also. Painful. Very painful.

  4. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “Black majority school boards in Virginia disproportionately kept Black children out of school last year”

    I can’t imagine why…?!

    1. Apples to apples. How many black school age kids died of COVID? Even better, how many school age kids died of COVID? Unless the kid has leukemia or some other severe co-morbidity problem, COVID does not kill kids. They belonged in school.
      So, in good old Leftist thought, it is now racist to want better for the Black children, who seem to have gotten screwed over more?
      So I think Mr. Sherlock’s point was why didn’t the majority black School Boards advocate for their students better? He didn’t say it, but I will – because they are pawns of the teachers unions/educational apparat and would not buck the system, just like mask wearing. The official study of the CDC that VDH and UVA use to require masks actually doesn’t say they work. It says maybe sorta kinda, if you don’t touch them and keep them clean,they could have SOME effectiveness (while sort of ignoring the statement that the clinical trial in 2015 concluded they did nothing, but let’s all pretend).
      And to answer your change of subject, why are Black death rates higher? Many factors could apply. COVID did seem to affect blacks worse, probably because of general co-morbidity issues. Obesity, far and away, is this country’s biggest health problem, but I guess Joe Brandon is fixing that by implementing the Venezuela starvation diet we’ll be seeing as grocery store shelves sit empty…except where rich people live who can work at home without masks on, while their serfs get food to them. All hail SlowJoe and Queen Kamala (whose families owned slaves)!

      1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        “Apples to apples. How many black school age kids died of COVID?”

        Unsurprisingly, you miss the point. Hint: Kids are not contained in a school 24 hours a day but instead are members of a community.

        1. That’s a point? I thought we were talking about education?

          1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            We were discussing why black school boards kept predominantly black schools closed more than others. I provided the reason and it is valid. The community that feeds these school was especially hard hit by Covid and this move was an attempt to protect those communities.

          2. Ummmm…but even black kids don’t die from Covid. The schools should have been opened. This was even worse for black kids. It had nothing legitimately to do with public health. It would have been better for all kids, black, white, yellow, purple, brown, rainbow, whatever, to be in school.

          3. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Edit: The risk of child death from Covid was NOT the driver for closing the schools. It was to truncate the spread of Covid in the greater community. Stop being intentionally obtuse.

          4. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            “The risk of child death from Covid was the driver for closing the schools. ”

            No it wasn’t, it was to protect the teachers. Beyond that it was based in science and schools have been proven scientifically not to be an area of concern.

            MIS-C was the concern for child prior to emergence of Delta.

          5. How many kids died, Full Troll? Even from the VDH website…and these few deaths were really because of other complications – severe ones at that. Our illustrious “public servants” got this wrong in all counts. Wait and see.

          6. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            See edit above…

          7. Ok…and we now have a better understanding that kids were not spreaders… They should have been in school. We never should have shut down. Protect the vulnerable and go on, realizing that a virus will virus and, just like the climate, we cannot control it…

          8. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            We know nothing of the sort. You might want to go back and look at Covid case rates for the Oct 2020-Jan 2021 time period…

        2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
          James C. Sherlock

          Hint: they are members of that community whether they are in school part of the day or not. That is also true of Black kids who went to Catholic schools, which were open for in-school instruction the entire school year.

          1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Balance needed to be struck. Nonetheless, the shorter time students were in school and the fewer days, the lower the threat to the community. The community of color was hit especially hard by Covid, is it really surprising that their school boards would be extra conservative on opening and reopening schools?

    2. Just an FYI, a parent of an RPS student told me the reason Richmond schools didn’t open last year was because the school buildings are so old and in such bad shape there isn’t proper ventilation. So while I acknowledge your point may have been a mitigating factor, I’m not convinced it’s the whole picture. Parents have been screaming for years about the state of RPS school buildings. I believe the school board recently voted to be able to procure its own contracts for repairs.

  5. Why make this a black/white thing? Many school boards with white majorities took the same school-closing actions last year as the boards you denounce in your article, and all of those actions affected ALL students, not just black children.

    My opinion, for what it is worth, is that when you inject race into the discussion, you are doing exactly what the “progressive” “educators” want you to do. They can now dismiss you as “racist” instead of having to address the substance of your ideas regarding how we should address the many problems with the public schools in our Commonwealth..

    1. Matt Adams Avatar
      Matt Adams

      Lets be honest, the term “racist” would’ve been used regardless of how the point was brought about. They don’t want to solve any problems they just wanted to stay in power.

      1. That’s probably true, Mr. Sherlock is most likely going to be called racist no matter what he says/does if he disagrees with the “progressive” power structure in our schools, but I think we should at least try to avoid giving them any [seemingly] legitimate reasons to use the term.

        I agree with your second statement in its entirety.

        1. Matt Adams Avatar
          Matt Adams

          I can agree, it’s all about perception.

    2. It’s a “black-white thing” because the Northam administration and many school districts themselves are obsessed by racial disparities and inequities. Those very same school boards then pursue policies that are demonstrably harmful to minority students — and then blame systemic racism!

    3. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Wayne, how can poor Black kids in public schools ever get a fair shake if the press is unwilling to report stories, legitimate ones backed by facts, like this one? You and I know that the mainstream press is terrified of reporting stories like this. I do it because I care about the kids and someone has to speak up for them.

      1. I want to be clear that I doubt neither your sincerity nor your integrity, and I very much appreciate the time and effort you put into exposing the actions of “woke” public school boards and school systems. Thank you for what you do.

        The point I was trying to make, apparently not successfully, is that the problem is “woke” school boards regardless of their racial make-up.

        It does not matter whether a particular school board is majority-black, majority-white, or of some other racial make-up, it is their “progressive” actions and policies which damage our children.

        1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
          James C. Sherlock

          That is correct, Wayne, but the story and the headline are accurate. I will not forgive Black school boards governing schools made up primarily of economically disadvantaged Black kids for making decisions that make their lives worse.

          1. Fair enough.

  6. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    In the case of Petersburg which is near and dear to my heart, I have always held to a theory that leadership on the school board was tied to sports, then teachers, then middle income students, and poor kids were dead last.

  7. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Yes, kids suffered academically due to the closure of the schools. Yes, poor minority kids suffered most. Yes, in hindsight, governments and school boards would probably have done things differently.

    However, I think this post is unfair and inaccurate in claiming that Black school boards “disproportionately” kept Black kids out of school. First of all, what is the source of your claim that four of the school districts you targeted “kept 95% – 99% of their students and staffs home all year”? According to information available on the DOE website, as of May 3, 2021, all those school districts had hybrid operations, with two of the divisions, Essex and Sussex, providing in-person instruction to younger kids 4 days per week. Furthermore, Petersburg, as of May 3, provided in-person instruction to all kids 4 days per week. Granted, I think a hybrid operation is the worst of the options, but that is not the same as “keeping students home all year” as you claim.

    Furthermore, it was not only these Black school boards that kept their schools partially closed. Just to cite a few examples, the counties of Nottoway, Bedford, Albemarle, and Rockbridge all operated hybrid systems in which the younger kids had in-person instruction4-5 days a week and the older kids 2 days per week.

    Finally, your headline implies that all Black school boards kept Black kids out of schools. As I pointed out above, white school boards also operated hybrid systems. Furthermore, by May 3, at least two Black school boards (I did not take the time to check all school districts), Hampton and Surry County had mostly mostly in-person instruction for most students. In fact, Surry provided in-person instruction for all students 4 days per week.

    These school boards were not acting capriciously or maliciously. They were following the advice from nationally recognized health authorities.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Dick, the list of the six most restrictive school districts came from VPAP, not from me. The facts are theirs, not mine. VPAP stands by them.

      All six of them are Black majority boards and all have Black majority school populations. And you say I am being unfair.

      Those boards were unfair to their own children.

      To whom is this reporting unfair?

      1. killerhertz Avatar

        When you keep your “own people” down you can lord over them and tell them you have their interests at heart and appeal to emotion and made up garbage like CRT

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