Category Archives: Children and families

Relentless Promotion of Transsexuality in Children – Fairfax County School Board Edition

Willow Woycke, president of the Transgender Education Association

by James C. Sherlock

Family Life Education – Board of Education Guidelines and
Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools, updated in 2020 by a famously progressive Virginia Board of Education, requires:

A plan for teaching sensitive content in gender-separated classes shall be announced publicly.

Current Fairfax County School Board Regulation 3204.9 Effective 09/15/2020 requires both elementary and middle school Family Life Education classes to be gender-separate.

Those rules apparently are now judged to be insufficiently progressive in Fairfax County. Headline:

Fairfax County school board debates mixing genders in 4th-8th grade sex education classes.

Continue reading

Charter School Lessons for the Youngkin Administration from the New York Times

by James C. Sherlock

Probably surprising to many of my readers, one of the newspapers to which I subscribe is The New York Times. Another is The Washington Post.

Of the two, the Times demonstrates far more balance in its reporting. Not opinion – reporting.

Times education writers, direct witnesses to the astonishing achievements of New York City charter schools and their huge waiting lists, can be counted on to investigate and report stories that openly disregard progressive orthodoxy on such schools.

They reported on May 13 (adjacent picture) that opposition to charter schools disadvantages primarily poor minority children and is driving the support of poor and minority parents away from the Democratic party.

That is the message I have been trying to bring to the Youngkin administration. Continue reading

Bad News For Deadbeat Dads: Virginia’s Coming For You

by Kerry Dougherty

One of the first things Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares did after arriving in Richmond was meet with various departments in the AG’s office.

“I asked, ‘Do you have all of the tools to do your job with excellence?” Miyares recalled Wednesday morning on the “Kerry and Mike” morning radio show on WNIS.

The new attorney general was stunned by some of the answers.

Especially the responses from the lawyers in the Child Support Division. Attorneys there told him they wanted to vigorously prosecute deadbeat parents — read, dads — but that blanket dismissals of cases had taken place last year in the name of “fairness and equity.”

Looks like more misplaced compassion by those who brought us the parole board scandal. Seems Virginia paid a high price for the squishy bleeding hearts that ran state government during the Ralph Northam/Mark Herring years.

“There was no fairness for the mothers,” said Miyares pointedly. Continue reading

School Daze

by Jim McCarthy

Governor Glenn Youngkin had an opportunity to withdraw his big-footed amendment to a bill that would have moved the election date of the Loudoun County School Board from 2022 to 2023 and vacate the nine board seats for a new election. The original bill sought only to stagger the terms of five of the seats. Now, rejected by vote of Democrats in the senate, the Governor has the choice of vetoing the original bill or signing it.

Whichever choice is made, it is not likely to diminish the feral fever that has enveloped school board meetings nor will it appease the bloodlust outrage stoked during the campaign.

Passage of the proposed amendment rested, in part, upon the Dillon Rule, a judicial doctrine from the 1800s which provides that a local jurisdiction may exercise only what authority is conferred by the parent state. This principle, in turn, is mirrored by another dominant value that has guided educational policy for centuries called in loco parentis (ILP) or in place of the parent. Historically, as population grew and shifted from agrarian settings to urban and suburban ones with enhanced employment opportunities, the education of youth was entrusted to a public school system with professional personnel. Continue reading

No, Joe, They’re Not Your Kids

by Kerry Dougherty

Let’s try this again, for those eating paste in the back of the class:

Children belong to their parents. Parents don’t surrender their rights to the people paid to educate their offspring when they drop their kids off at school. Parents want to know what’s being taught in the classroom and they have a right to have a say in it.

Yet, just months after Terry McAuliffe lost his bid to become governor of Virginia, Joe Biden made the same mistake that cost McAuliffe the Governor’s Mansion.

“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” snapped McAuliffe during a debate with Glenn Youngkin last year.

Those 12 words set him on the path to defeat.

They also appeared repeatedly in Youngkin for Governor ads and they resonated. Especially because the National School Boards Association had just written a letter to Biden’s Department of Justice asking that disgruntled parents be declared domestic terrorists. Continue reading

Richmond Parents and Taxpayers, Welcome to Chicago Public Schools

by James C. Sherlock

The gulf between what the City of Richmond School Board (RSB) and the Richmond City Council (RCC) on what will be negotiated with their public unions is actually an ocean.

The RSB has authorized the negotiation of virtually everything about how the schools are run. It leaves nothing off the table except the right to strike and the right to negotiate a closed shop (Virginia is still a right to work state), both of which state law still prohibits. But the unions can negotiate what are essentially the work rules of a closed shop.

In contrast, the City Council is poised to pass an ordinance on May 5th from two candidate drafts, one from Mayor Stoney and the other from three Council members. The Mayor’s version states what will be negotiated — pay and benefits. The other states what will not be negotiated with an eleven-point description of the City’s Rights and Authorities.

The City Council drafts, especially the Mayor’s, have it right. They note the City Council’s duties under the laws of Virginia and to the citizens of their city.

Not so the school board. The RSB resolution acknowledges only one stakeholder: its unions.

Unmentioned in the RSB resolution is exactly who is going to represent the city in its negotiations with its unions. Ideally it will be a team composed of City Council (finance) and School Board subject-matter experts. If so the city reps will be operating under two sets of negotiating rules in direct opposition to one another.

I’d buy a ticket, but maybe under the sunshine laws negotiations will be on TV. Continue reading

New York Governor Removes Mask Requirement for School Kids – Virginia Mask Advocates Confused

CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH

by James C. Sherlock

Headline: “New York City says it will end the school mask mandate and indoor vaccination requirements.AndNew York indoor school mask mandate to be lifted this week.

Progressive Virginians have been stabbed in the back. Et tu, New York?

So, imagine you have filed a law suit against Governor Youngkin on the same issue.

When you have lost New York, not to mention The New York Times, CNN and the CDC, what is a righteous science follower to do?

COVID-19 County Check

In Virginia Beach County, Virginia, community level is Low.

Watch this space for the self-flagellation, rending of garments and desperate references of the woke.

Everybody Wins – Nurse Practitioners for Underserved Communities

by James C. Sherlock

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing has instituted a terrific program thanks to a wealthy alum who gave $125 million to recruit and train nurse practitioners to practice in underserved communities.

The Leonard A. Louder Community Care Nurse Practitioner Fellows program will be tuition-free and students who still need help will be granted stipends. The program will start with 10 enrollees next year, eventually reach an annual target enrollment of 40 Fellows, and will be sustained by income from the grant. (See the link above for additional details.)

What attracted me to this is the need in Virginia.

The program fits like a glove with a parallel program, Health Enterprise Zones, which in Maryland has saved enough Medicaid money to fund a Virginia Nurse Practitioner Fellows Program here. Continue reading

Virginia ACLU Sues to Keep Schoolchildren in Masks – Forever

by James C. Sherlock

The ACLU of Virginia is suing under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in United States District Court in Charlottesville to keep all Virginia school children in masks. Potentially forever.

The lawsuit contends that Governor Youngkin, with his EO making masks optional, “has effectively barred the schoolhouse door” to some kids with disabilities.

A victory for the plaintiffs would make the debate on current Virginia law moot. It would make the expiration of that law on July 31 moot. It could make CDC recommendations moot. Indeed, it could make COVID-19 moot.

Relief — masking for the entire school population — is sought based on the increased vulnerability of one or more kids to pathogens. The plaintiffs plead this is a reasonable accommodation. A decision based on the ADA or Section 506 cannot reasonably be limited to this particular strain of coronavirus.

The wrong decision could make the administrators and teachers, as well as kids, wear masks when any child in a school is deemed by a physician to be more vulnerable than others to any pathogen. Continue reading

School Discipline – a Big Debate with Big Consequences for Education

by James C. Sherlock

Learning can only happen in an appropriate learning environment.

How to establish and maintain that learning environment is one of the most consequential debates in public education. In a lot of schools in Virginia, what we are doing now is not working.

Laura Meckler, writing in The Washington Post about a national problem, observed:

Test scores are down, and violence is up. Parents are screaming at school boards, and children are crying on the couches of social workers. Anger is rising. Patience is falling.

Public education is facing a crisis unlike anything in decades, and it reaches into almost everything that educators do: from teaching math, to counseling anxious children, to managing the building. [Emphasis added]

Teaching, counseling and discipline. In a functioning school, that is a virtuous circle.  In many schools, it is a vicious circle. Where to start to fix the broken schools?

My own answer is to do first what can be done most quickly. Establish  classroom discipline. Continue reading

CDC Has Three Recommendations on the Masking of Children. None of Them Match.

And the Governor’s Executive Order will outlive the Virginia law that directs schools to adhere to CDC guidance, even if they think they can figure out what it is.

by James C. Sherlock

Many quote the “science” that favors their opinions.

Virginia law requires:

…each school board to provide such in-person instruction in a manner in which it adheres, to the maximum extent practicable, to any currently applicable mitigation strategies for early childhood care and education programs and elementary and secondary schools to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 that have been provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A little-noted provision of that law is that it expires on August 1 of this year. It will not pass again. The debate will continue after that date, but so will the executive order.

Regardless, I thought it would be useful to go to the source, CDC, and see if its science-based “currently applicable mitigation strategies” match its politically influenced  guidance.

I cannot certify that they do. The CDC offers at least three different recommendations for protecting children from COVID.

None of them match. And there is strong evidence that the CDC changed its school masking recommendations under National Education Association pressure. Continue reading

The Board of Education Should Investigate “Privilege Bingo” at FCPS

Courtesy of Fairfax County Public Schools

by James C. Sherlock

Hard to sweep this under the rug.

Pat Herrity of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors yesterday released on his Twitter account this picture of a teaching aid used in a Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) classroom.

There is no indication yet of the grades in which “privilege Bingo” is being offered, or of the rules of the “game.” We know for sure which kids are the losers. All of them.

The kids who check the most boxes are singled out as privileged, thus not responsible for their success.  Perhaps they are oppressors.  We’ll need to find out exactly what was said.

The kids who check the fewest boxes are humiliated in front of their peers.  Whatever may be the words coming out of the teacher’s mouth, those kids are learning false lessons:

  • that the world won’t work for them;
  • that they have little chance to succeed no matter how hard they try;
  • that personal agency is a myth; and
  • that school is a waste of time.

The common threads in this “game” for all children, that privilege at birth is destiny and that personal responsibility and effort play only minor roles in success, are as devastatingly false and hurtful as anything one can tell a kid.

Virginians demand a fair investigation. If a violation of a state-granted license or licenses is found, we will demand accountability.

I note that division superintendents are licensed by the Board of Education https://www.baconsrebellion… should that prove the source of the problem in this case.  Continue reading

Are School Grades Misleading Parents?

School children wearing masks outside at recess. Courtesy of Albemarle County Public Schools

by James C. Sherlock

Virtually all parents pay close attention to their children’s report cards.

That is, however, a fruitless exercise if the grades do not reflect actual learning.

I spoke the other day to a senior school official who related to me his own story. One of his children, a second grader, brought home straight A’s in math.

Yet this parent, with a Ph.D. in Education, and his wife, herself a second grade teacher, knew for a fact that the child did not yet understand math at her second grade level.

Another friend with credentials similar to those parents reminded me today that teachers test what they teach. In her experience, the teacher likely did not mislead on purpose. An alternate explanation is that the teacher was not testing to the state standard, but rather to her own.

Those two parents had the education and professional experience to recognize and address the issue with their child. Many parents do not.

It is time to find out how extensive this problem is in Virginia. Continue reading

Imprisoned by the Past

Libby Prison on Cary Street, Richmond, circa 1865. Photo credit: Flickr

by James A. Bacon

As a parting gift to Virginia, outgoing Attorney General Mark Herring has overturned 58 opinions issued by attorneys general between 1904 and 1967 that supported racially discriminatory laws from poll taxes to the prohibition of interracial marriage.

“While these discriminatory and racist laws are no longer on the books in Virginia, the opinions still are, which is why I am proud to overrule them,” Herring said in a press release today. “We are not the Virginia we used to be, and in order to truly be the Virginia that we want to be in the future we need to remove any last vestiges of these racist laws.”

Herring’s action will have no practical effect — the laws supported by these opinions have all been overturned. But many African-American politicians and activists found solace in the gesture.

“Just like Virginia wiped racist, outdated laws off its books in recent years, so too should it wipe away racist, outdated legal opinions that supported and helped to implement those laws,” said Cynthia Hudson, a former chief deputy attorney general and chair of the Commission to Examine Racial Equity in Virginia’s law.

I have mixed emotions. I can see the symbolic value of getting these heinous rulings off the books. (See a compilation here.) We should slam the door on Virginia’s racist past. However, I find the fixation on the past a distraction from current-day injustices that have origins unrelated to historic racism. Continually dredging up ancient wrongs feeds African Americans’ sense of alienation, victimhood and grievance, and it perpetuates the false narrative of systemic modern-day racism. Continue reading

Schools Closing Because Teachers Don’t Like Child Care Options

by Hans Bader

My school system in Arlington County is needlessly closing today. Supposedly, the reason is the “weather,” but the school system admits that actually, “the primary and neighborhood roads in Arlington are clear and our schools are ready.” Why then, are they closing? Because some teachers have kids, and some of those teachers complain they are having difficulty finding decent childcare options for those kids! As the lawyer Clark Neily notes, “they’re going to go ahead and pass that inconvenience on to us — while billing us for the privilege, of course.”

This is the same school system that is considering getting rid of grades on homework and allowing constant lateness and retakes on work. The school system claims that is about promoting “equity,” but eliminating grading also reduces work for the teachers, which may be something their union wants (on the other hand, allowing retakes is probably something teachers don’t want).

As I explain at this link, abolishing grades for homework will result in students studying less and learning less. The Arlington school board can be reached by email (at school.board@apsva.us).

Below is the Arlington Public Schools school closure notice: Continue reading