Category Archives: Children and families

VDOE’s Plan to Impose Social Reconstructionist Dogma on School Children

OK, kids, raise your hand if you can spell  i-n-d-o-c-t-r-i-n-a-t-i-o-n.

by James C. Sherlock

The 2020 General Assembly required the Virginia Department of Education to develop and publish standards for Social Emotional Learning (SEL) that start in Kindergarten and go through 12th grade.

VDOE has done so, disregarding entirely hundreds of comments on Virginia Town Hall on the draft of those standards that had a 10-to-one negative-to-positive ratio.

Town Hall in theory allows citizens to influence regulations. VDOE changed not one word from the draft.

Good news:  Virginia school divisions are not required to adopt the standards — yet. Bad news: Some will. Continue reading

“Model Polices” on Transgender Students vs. Laws Guaranteeing Parental Rights

by James C. Sherlock

Emilio Jaksetic wrote an excellent article this morning.

Mr. Jaksetic, a lawyer, commented on the decision by Judge J. Frederick Watson of the 24th Judicial Circuit of Virginia, to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the Virginia Board of Education’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools for lack of standing.  The judge did not rule on the substantive merits of lawsuit.

So, Christian Action Network did not have standing. I also believe that it sued under the wrong theory of law and in the wrong court. I told them so at the time.

One basic flaw in Model Policies is that it specifically permits portions of educational records to be withheld from parents by school personnel. That was not challenged by the Christian Action Network suit.

Yet it appears to be illegal under both federal and state laws.

School boards should take actions on Model Policies only with qualified legal advice. Continue reading

Flooding the Zone at VDOE

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane

by James C. Sherlock

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is absolutely relentless.

Defenders in a zone defense in football are responsible for areas of the field, rather than following a specific receiver. Offenses often attack these defenses by flooding a zone — sending three receivers into an area covered by two defenders.  

But at least there are 11 players on both sides of the ball.

VDOE is trying to flood  defenders of traditional K-12 education, not with strategy, but with superior numbers of players.

The enormous staff of VDOE, backed by state-funded University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University ed school professors, attacks traditional roles of parents and teachers on so many fronts simultaneously that they are very hard to defend.

I just read the VDOE Teacher Direct Newsletter published July 14, 2021. 

Below are a few of the headlines along with some of the VDOE guidance for teachers.

Continue reading

Richmond Public Schools Show No Progress on Staff COVID Vaccinations

by James C. Sherlock

Last updated Just 15 at 4:16 PM

I have long taken a personal interest in the City of Richmond Public Schools (RPS). Its students have a right under the Virginia constitution to a quality education that they are systematically denied. RPS has utterly failed to educate the children under its care. The proof is in the Virginia Department of Education’s School Quality Report.

The Board of Education dutifully reports that fact every year to the Governor and the General Assembly — another constitutional requirement. Neither takes effective action.

Now most of RPS school personnel have failed to get vaccinated. School starts next month.

Action is warranted. None appears in the offing. Continue reading

UVa Offers Social Warrior Lesson Plans to Virginia Kindergarten Teachers

by James C. Sherlock

In case anyone thinks the left ever rests, the University of Virginia ed school has struck another blow to educate children as social warriors through its ”Educating for Democracyproject.  

“Democracy is not a spectator sport; it requires our participation, and this participation must be oriented toward justice. To create a more just democracy, citizens must be able to critically assess systems of inequity and work collaboratively to redress inequity and create lasting change. Dialogue is central to the process and can be transformative. Frequent and effective dialogue can engender equity and inclusion for everyone.” 

“We believe that K-12 students across the country have the power to embody these principles and shape America into the just democracy we all desire and deserve.”

So, since “we all desire” America to be shaped into a “just democracy” from it’s current, presumptively pitiful status, the Educating for Democracy project offers teachers free online lesson plans designed to create social justice warriors.

It is not possible for most to imagine the lengths that radicals will go to take control of the minds of very young children, so I will provide two directly-quoted examples below. 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

Where Are the Parents?

by Kerry Dougherty

America has a problem. And I’m not talking about the police or racism or a political schism as wide as the ocean.

I’m talking about parents. Rather, the lack of parents.

In recent weeks the nation has been shocked by a series of horrific stories about kids being killed — by the cops and by each other — and we blame everyone but the people responsible for these children:

Their parents.

Take the case of Adam Toledo, for instance. He’s the 13-year-old who was shot and killed last week by a Chicago policeman who was pursuing him and a 21-year-old man through a dark alley at about 2:30 a.m. The two were suspected of shooting at cars.

Protesters claim Adam dropped his gun just as the officer shot him. They’re demanding Derek Chauvin-like consequences for the policeman.

But here’s the question we ought to be asking: Why was a 7th grader on the streets of Chicago at 2:30 a.m. with a handgun? Continue reading

VDOE Transgender Policies Dangerous to Both Children and School Personnel

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools is a bigger mess the more I study it.

It is as far as I can tell unprecedented in scope. I checked parallel California, D.C. and Arlington County policies. None of them comes close to the dangerous nonsense in Virginia’s new Model Policies.

Even if we ignore the legal, medical, ethical and parental rights issues, which we won’t, Model Policies will prove untenable in any school that tries to comply.

We absolutely need to make transgender students feel safe at school and not discriminate against them in any way.  Arlington County has done it well in my view. But the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) (Department) new regulation fails every test of professionalism and common sense with its attempt to address those needs.

Be assured however that Model Policies meets key tests of radical progressivism.

  • Its prescriptions challenge the tenets of every major religion and the ethics of people who care about ethics;
  • It is unsupported by evidence or common sense, uncaring of consequences, unachievable by sentient adults; and
  • It is mandatory.

Continue reading

Virginia Board of Education – In Loco Parentis and Headed to Court

Mark Herring

by James C. Sherlock

Is your child yours or does he or she belong body and soul to the state in the person of the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE)?   

That is a question that is not only reasonable, but absolutely necessary after reading its new transgender student regulation. That regulation represents a straight-up, in-your-face denial of parental rights.

The quasi-religious fervor with which the radical left now pushes children to “find” their transgender selves and the state to offer “support” in that decision to very young children is as disturbing as anything in American life. They consider that gender identity is an innate characteristic that most children “declare” by age five to six. They further believe the state should take it from there to protect them from their parents.

VDOE just released what will prove a fiercely controversial Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools pursuant to House Bill 145 and Senate Bill 161 enacted by the 2020 Virginia General Assembly. Under that 2020 law, the “policies” just released are mandatory for school boards, thus granted the status of a regulation.  

The whole conceit that the government – read the radical progressive left who wrote this regulation for VDOE – knows best what is right for your children is on full display in the document. It presumes to enforce government decisions on the sexuality of very young children both hidden from and against the wishes of the parents.   Continue reading

Child Endangerment at Home and on the Border

by Kerry Dougherty

Baby Boomers are fond of social media posts that glorify their raised-by-wolves childhoods.

They usually go something like this:

We drank out of garden hoses, rode in the back of pick-ups, didn’t have seat belts let alone car seats, came home when the street lights went on, thought Howard Johnson’s was fine dining, played with BB guns and knives and earned our immunization to chicken pox, mumps and measles the old fashioned way. The fat kid in our class would be considered skinny today.

The implication? We’re tough. Today’s youngsters are pampered.

It’s worth remembering that not everything was wonderful when Boomers were growing up.

Suitcases didn’t have wheels.

Telephones were tethered to the wall.

Televisions received only three channels.

I could go on.

But one thing I remember well from my childhood in a small New Jersey town was that by the time I was six my mother would routinely send me to a corner store to buy her Pall Malls. The shop was probably about half a mile from our house. Continue reading

We Are Losing Sight of Public Health in Vaccination Debates

by James C. Sherlock

We in the process of losing our collective minds.

I read a story in the Roanoke Times by LuAnne Rife “One-third of Virginia’s long-term care workers declined COVID-19 vaccinations, as homes reopen to visitors.

We read other stories about teachers refusing vaccinations. They do it pointing to the fact that the vaccines are still under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

Some parents, going with the flow, refuse to vaccinate their children not just for COVID when those vaccines are available for children, but for the MMR vaccine already mandatory for school attendance in Virginia.

Some teachers and students then “demand” that the schools accommodate their preferences. Cue the anti-vaxxer hysteria.

We got to this point partly because the culture’s political and media elites spent eight months prior to the federal election conditioning the American public, who before COVID by and large did not spend five minutes a year worrying about vaccinations, to think of vaccines as dangerous. Especially if President Trump’s FDA approved them.

They did it for political reasons. Now they need to help fix what they broke. Continue reading

Northam Gets an Earful on Marijuana Legalization Bill

Image by JR Byron from Pixabay

by D.J. Rippert

Slow burn. The General Assembly passed marijuana legislation and sent it to the governor to sign. However, almost nobody seems satisfied with the bill as it is written. Now Governor Ralph Northam must decide whether to sign the bill, veto the bill, or ask for the bill to be amended. As he ponders his next move, he is getting a lot of advice from different directions.

While there are many issues with the proposed legislation, the timeline for recreational legalization of possession is arguably the biggest problem. The legislation, as written, would legalize recreational marijuana possession and sale in 2024. Yes, more than three full years from now. That doesn’t sit well with a lot of people including Democratic State Senator Louise Lucas, who wrote on social media, “Kicking the can down the road has the effect of continued over policing people of color.” Sen Lucas would like to see marijuana legalized on July 1, 2021. Continue reading

Private Sector Screws Up Vaccine Dispersal

By Peter Galuszka

For more than a year, there has been a stream of criticism of government handling of the COVID vaccine.

On this blog, there has been a relentless pounding of Gov. Ralph Northam for his role in trying to navigate the pandemic that has so far killed more than 500,000 Americans. This is a far greater number than all of U.S. troops killed in World War II.

Now, two members of Congress, both moderate Democrats, are raising questions about the current system of providing vaccines. The private sector has a lot to answer for.

According to U.S. Rep. Abigail D. Spanberger (7th District) and Rep. Elaine G. Luria (2nd District), the current system is confusing, as large pharmacy companies CVS and Walgreen try to handle giving people protective shots.

Of special note is their concern that the current system favors the rich over the poor. In their letter to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers fort Disease Control and Protection, they wrote:

“Unfortunately, the complicated array of programs has caused significant confusion and frustration for public health officials and the general public. The varied eligibility requirements and appointment-making procedures favor the technologically savvy and well-resourced who can navigate the different systems. Retail pharmacy partners have been reluctant to coordinate their outreach and appointments with state public health officials’ priorities, meaning vulnerable individuals patiently waiting their turn according to health department guidelines could be passed over.’

Continue reading

Holding Richmond Public Schools Accountable — Part I

by James C. Sherlock

We have discussed here the failures of the City of Richmond Public Schools (RPS) in educating its economically disadvantaged children, as well as the abysmal performance of Black children in its schools.  

I intend to help readers understand how it manages to fail repeatedly even with major federal funding as guardrails and state oversight officially in place.

Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) such as RPS and its schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet state academic standards.

It is useful to drill down into the details of that program so that readers can understand how every school district in Virginia is supposed to plan and execute the education of poor kids to improve their chances of success.

The question that will remain when I finish will be accountability.  

How does a system like the Richmond Public Schools continue to submit similar paperwork every year and every year fail to meet its stated goals? Where is the accountability? Why do the people of Richmond put up with it?  Continue reading

Richmond Schools Discover that the Shutdown Magnifies Mental Illness

Richmond Superintendent Jason Kamras visiting a school in pre-COVID days. Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by James A. Bacon

The downside of the COVID-19 school lockdown has become fully apparent to Richmond Public School officials. Richmond schools are experiencing an “alarming surge” in mental health issues — depression, self-harm, and suicidal ideation — among the district’s 21,000 students in depression, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The impact of social isolation, fear of the virus, and the deaths of loved ones is magnified, school officials say, among students who have already experienced extensive childhood trauma. “Experts” fear that an underfunded mental health system is not equipped to handle the situation.

As Robert Bolling, CEO of ChildSavers put it, the pandemic has added a new layer of trauma where trauma was already the most severe.

“We are dealing with children who had, by the time they turned 9 years old, experienced significant traumatic events in their lives” such as poverty, neglect, abuse, sexual assault or witnessing violence, Bolling said. “Toxic trauma happens when a kid experiences that four times in their lives. Our children average six.” Continue reading