Budget Actions to Implement the Methods of the Nation’s Most Successful Educators of Poor, Minority and Special Needs Kids into Virginia Public Schools

Ex-Curry School at UVa

by James C. Sherlock

I am a graduate of the University of Virginia. I am not a proud one on this subject.

I have just completed yet another review of the centers, labs and projects of the UVa School of Education and Human Development (ex-Curry School).

The review highlighted two major issues.

  1. UVa’s School of Education has shown an utter absence of scholarship in ignoring the most proven effective methods for improving public education of poor, minority and educationally handicapped kids, upon whom it claims to be centered. Those methods are the ones employed in public schools by the nation’s most successful non-profit charter management organizations (CMOs), starting with New York City’s Success Academy. Shriveled by dogma and fear of the Twitter mob, UVa will not even mention their names.  Yet that school of education is called out by name and disproportionately rewarded in the budget in front of the General Assembly.
  2. We need to study and implement the methods of the CMOs, which specialize in educating poor and minority kids and accept special education kids without any barrier, into all of Virginia’s public schools, not just charters.

I will offer specific fixes for both issues that the Governor and the General Assembly can implement in the budget before them.

I reviewed for this story every one of the UVa ed school’s centers, labs and projects including:

Ignoring Charter Management Organizations. The phenomenal success of the best CMOs in teaching economically disadvantaged and minority kids, English learners and students with educational disabilities is the story in that field.

Yet my review indicates that the ed school at the state’s flagship university cannot bring itself to admit the existence of, much less study, organizations that have produced the nation’s best educational results for children whose best interests the school claims to be centered on in its programs.

CASTL conducted a six-year study of nine “core knowledge (CK)” charter schools in Colorado under a federal grant. CK is a curriculum, not a uniform educational methodology. The Colorado Department of Education was a partner. A glimmer of hope you say?

Few studies have focused on the decisions of high-income, suburban families. In a sample of Core Knowledge charter schools in a predominantly White and socioeconomically advantaged set of suburbs in Denver, Colorado, we are able to examine both the closed- and open-ended responses of parents who reported the importance of various factors in the decision-making process.

The results paper was School Choice Decision-Making Among Suburban, High-Income Parents.  

Thanks for nothing.

The failure to study the methodology of the most successful CMOs represents dogma run amok. Under Virginia budget sponsorship, that dogma directly endangers the education of poor, minority and educationally handicapped Virginia children.

Where are the civil rights organizations, the General Assembly Black and Hispanic caucuses and the special education lobby on this issue? Where are the teacher’s organizations?

What to do. The state should withdraw funding support and special recognition from UVa’s ed school and get started down a road to implement the methods of the best CMOs into Virginia public schools with amendments to the budget in front of them.

  1. Go to the Budget Bill – HB30 2022-23 Budget, Office of Education, Central Office Operations, Item 129. Go to paragraphs H and I. Strip the University of Virginia School of Education of all of the directed funding in that paragraph. Move it to other state-supported ed schools with budget language that directs them to include in their work study of the kindergarten instruction methods of the most educationally successful public charter school charter management organizations.
  2. Move $3 million annually from the $1.7 billion annual funding for the University of Virginia to the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Use budget language to instruct her to study and report on the methods and results of the most educationally successful K-12 public charter school management organizations in the instruction of poor and minority children and the introduction of those methods into Virginia public schools.

The Governor can threaten to veto any budget that does not include those changes.