Category Archives: Children and families

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

How Big a Problem Is Sexual Victimization of Children in Juvenile Facilities?

Credit: 2018 National Survey of Youth in Custody

by James A. Bacon

According to the late 2018 National Survey of Youth in Custody, an estimated 7.1% of youth held in juvenile facilities reported being “sexually victimized” during the previous 12 months.

The good news, such as is it, was that the percentage for Virginia youth was somewhat lower: 5.1% (subject to a fairly wide statistical margin of error). Another silver lining: The rate of rate of sexual victimization had declined from 9.5% since the previous survey in 2012.

The bad news, of course, is that any sexual victimization of young people in state facilities is unacceptable.

This data was brought to my attention by Rise for Youth, an organization dedicated to “dismantling the youth prison model” and promoting community-based alternatives to youth incarceration. As Executive Director Valerie Slater wrote in January in ACLU Virginia, Virginia’s criminal justice system is “deeply flawed” and stacked against “black, brown and poor men, women and youth.” Continue reading

The Lies in “Hillbilly Elegy”

By Peter Galuszka

A 2016 memoir by J.D. Vance, a former Ohio resident, drew praise from conservatives for its laud of self-reliance and disciple and criticism from others for its long string of debunked clichés about people from the Central Appalachians.

The book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” was held up as being a great explainer as to why so many in the White lower classes voted for Trump.

Vance exalts the strength of self-discipline, family values and hard work. He complains that when he worked as a store clerk he resented it when people on welfare had cell phones but Vance couldn’t afford one. He ended up going to Yale Law School.

Vance also spends a lot of time complaining about his dysfunctional family including a nasty grandmother, a mother constantly stoned on alcohol and opioids and lots of divorce – in other words the “social rot” of the hillbilly lifestyle he so disdains.

His tie to Appalachia is a bit thin. He grew up in a suburb of Cincinnati but spent summers in Jackson in the mountains of East Kentucky.

Now director and child actor Ron Howard has made a feel-good movie from the book that stars Glenn Close and Amy Adams. It is getting lousy reviews. Continue reading

The Pick-Your-Expert Game, Virginia Schools Division

by James C. Sherlock

Danica Roem

A story  by Dana Goldstein published in the New York Times on June 30, 2020, illustrates America’s new favorite parlor game: Pick your expert.  

This essay is hereby entered in the Virginia schools division of the bigger game. Ms. Goldstein wrote:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics has a reputation as conservative and cautious, which is what you would expect from an organization devoted to protecting children’s health. But this week, the academy made a splash with advice about reopening schools that appears to be somewhat at odds with what administrators are hearing from some federal and state health officials.”

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, have advised that remote learning is the safest option. But the (American Academy of Pediatrics) guidelines strongly recommend that students be “physically present in school” as much as possible, and emphasize that there are major health, social and educational risks to keeping children at home.”

Later, there was a government-directed shotgun wedding of the two opinions, but the core AAP recommendation remains. So like every other argument, confirmation bias proved determinative in how various interests chose their “experts.” Continue reading

Black Georgia Professor, UVa Ed School Teachers Conference Keynoter, Trashes Brown v. Board and Offers Return to Segregated Schools

Dr. Bettina Love

We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom by Bettina Love (2019)

Reviewed by James C. Sherlock

Background and Introduction

I became interested in reviewing this book when I watched Dr. Bettina Love, as Associate Professor of Education at the University of Georgia, speak at a seminar for Virginia K-12 teachers sponsored by the Education School at the University of Virginia.

I did that as part of personal research into the radicalization of my alma mater.

I found her presentation to be pretty radical to my old white ears. I decided to read her book.

This review, like the one that will follow of Dr. Sowell’s book, “Charter Schools and their Enemies,” focuses on the actual words of the author, not the views of the reviewer. I will give each their say.

Because her views are likely to be highly controversial, this review will be longer that it otherwise might to ensure I allow the reader full opportunity to hear her.

She has been featured multiple times in Education Week, and has been a recent speaker at the University of Texas, Duke, and the University of Houston as well as C-Span, the City Club of Cleveland, Women’s Voices and advocate.com. She has provided commentary for NPR, the Guardian and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Yet I find no review of her book by any major newspaper of magazine.

She needed an editor. The book is very disorganized and peripatetic. It is thus very hard to read. No editor is credited and none is apparent.

But no editor would have curbed the venom coming out of the author’s pen. Continue reading

Virginia’s Worst Public Schools and Districts for Black Children

by James C. Sherlock

I have competed a study of Virginia’s worst-performing schools in the education of black children.  The results presented in this essay represent a scandal of the first order and demand explanations, both from the school boards and the Virginia Department of Education.

In my next post I will review two books by prominent black academics with polar opposite views on what to do about it. But this is about the abject failure of many of Virginia’s schools to educate black students.

Continue reading

Virginia Needs to Stop Playing Politics with School Reopenings

by DJ Rippert

Politics over science. Michael Hartney is a national fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and an assistant professor of political science at Boston College. He and a collaborator have studied school reopening decisions across the United States looking for factors that correlate with the seemingly arbitrary differences in school reopening policies from one school system to the next. His conclusion is that the politics of the community and the strength of the teachers’ unions play a far greater role in reopening decisions than any application of science. As Hartney writes in an Newsweek op-ed piece, “Education policymakers should consider public health indicators like the number of COVID cases, deaths and the acuteness of the pandemic’s spread in a given community when deciding when and how much to reopen schools. But such factors have not driven decision-making. Instead, it is partisanship and the power of the teachers’ unions that have largely determined which schools opened and how much they opened.”

Facts are stubborn things. Hartley’s analysis seems thorough. He studied nearly 10,000 school districts. The correlation between political attitude and school reopening policies appears to be real. As Hartley writes, “Even when comparing schools in counties that experienced very similar case rates, partisanship best predicted whether schools opened. For example, counties that voted 60 percent for Hillary Clinton in 2016 were nearly 20 percentage points less likely to hold in-person classes than counties that backed Donald Trump to the same degree.” A look at Virginia’s reopening map shows a notable east – west division between the 68 school divisions that are fully remote and the 64 divisions that have some level of generalized in-person teaching. Continue reading