Category Archives: Children and families

The Social Emotional Learning Establishment Seeks Progressive Reordering of Society

by James C. Sherlock

Social emotional learning is based on a good idea. The underlying concept is to train adults (teachers and staff) in child psychology with a goal of shaping learning environments that optimize development of children to societal standards of behavior.

To teach them how to act.

The rub: who decides on the target societal standards of behavior?

Virginia’s vision for SEL is published as:

intended to center equity in this work, which is key to VDOE’s vision and mission.

The vision of social emotional learning in Virginia is to maximize the potential of all students and staff to become responsible, caring and reflective members of our diverse society by advancing equity, uplifting student voice, and infusing SEL into every part of the school experience.

You can figure out where the educational establishment is going with that. But if you cannot, they have told us in no uncertain terms.

They intend to integrate issues of race, class and culture into academic content with a primary goal of making social justice warriors out of America’s children; to bring down capitalism, individualism, and what they call neoliberal democracy.

To lead our children to help redistribute power in America.

Not my words, theirs. Continue reading

Virginia Missing Children: 400

Each year, more than a half million children go missing in the United States. In Virginia, 2,500 children have been reported missing (presumably this year) and 400 are actively missing, according to a press release touting a National Child ID partnership to be announced today by Attorney General Jason Miyares and Virginia Tech football coaching legend Frank Beamer.

One quarter of all human trafficking cases include a child, and minority populations are three times more likely to go missing or be abducted, says the press release.

Parents’ Rights Are On The Virginia Ballot. Again.

by Kerry Dougherty

Good news. Virginia’s Democrats have taken the bait.

So far at least four liberal school districts in the commonwealth have declared that they will defy Virginia’s Department of Education model policies on parental rights that were unveiled late last week.

You know, policies that contain “radical” ideas such as these:

“Parents have the right to make decisions with respect to their children”

“Schools shall respect parental values and beliefs.”

Oh, and here’s the new definition of “transgendered”:

The phrase “transgender student” shall mean a public school student whose parent has requested in writing, due to their child’s persistent and sincere belief that his or her gender differs with his or her sex, that their child be so identified while at school.

This means that students who present themselves as a gender other than the sex they were given at birth without their parents’ permission will not be allowed to change their identities in school. Continue reading

Virginia Model Policies on Protecting Students Show Differences in Constitutional Focus and Interpretation

by James C. Sherlock

There is lots of interest, and not a little headline hyperbole, concerning the change in Virginia’s model policies designed to assure all children appropriate treatment at school.

Two different world views are apparent in the titles:

  • the Northam administration’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools (Northam Model Policies) and
  • the Youngkin Administration’s Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools (Youngkin Model Policies).

Both attorneys and general audiences will find interesting the way the authors of each document interpreted the United States Constitution.

Each referred to the first and 14th amendments. And Virginia laws. The differences in emphasis and interpretation were chosen to support their cases.

That is not surprising, but I think those differences make or break the case for the two policies.

I will let readers decide. Continue reading

The Death of Common Sense and the Child-Care Shortage

by James A. Bacon

Simone Martinez began searching for child care four months into her pregnancy. When her baby Zelaina was born, she still hadn’t found a provider, Cardinal News tells us. “I was debating quitting my job even though we really can’t afford it,” she said.

Hundreds of families are on waiting lists in Southwest and Southside Virginia, says Cardinal News. Indeed, child care shortages are a statewide problem — and they are causing major headaches for parents.

Forty-seven percent of Virginia residents live in child care “deserts,” defined by the Center for American Progress as areas having insufficient options. Even when child care is available, it can be so expensive — equivalent to private school tuition — that it makes sense for many parents, usually mothers, to drop out of the workforce and stay home. In 2021, 44,000 Virginians made career sacrifices because of child care issues, according to the liberal-left think tank.

In the minds of many, every social problem calls for a government “solution,” which means Mo Money from taxpayers, and day care is no exception. The Cardinal article quotes multiple people calling for bigger government subsidies. “If we don’t have continued investment and subsidies from the state and federal government,” says one provider, “the child care industry will collapse.”

No one, and that includes Cardinal News, thinks to inquire why day care is so scarce and so expensive in the first place. The usual suspects quoted in the media never ask if excessive government regulation might play a role. Continue reading

Medical Gender Transition in Children – American Academy of Pediatrics Headquarters vs. the World

Courtesy American Academy of Pediatrics

by James C. Sherlock

Who cares for transgender kids the most and is looking out for their best interests?

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) headquarters leadership; or
  • Dissenting AAP members and the medical societies of some of the leading nations in the science of medicine?

A reasonable and important question, since Virginia and the rest of the nation need to know what is best for kids before we squabble about who chooses.

An op-ed in The Wall Street Journal by pediatrician Dr. Julia Mason and Leor Sapir, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, pulled back the curtain on the politicization of AAP headquarters and its suppression of debate on matters of medical treatment of children diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

They take on the efforts by AAP to suppress:

  • both public knowledge of the gaps in the science of child transgender medicine; and
  • efforts in conservative states to regulate on-demand puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgery in children.

Importantly, they revealed that Sweden, Finland and the U.K. have enacted restrictions on medical transition of minors and that medical societies in France, Belgium and Australia are on the verge of doing so.

What do the medical societies and government health services in those countries know that the AAP does not permit discussion of and its scriveners in the American press have not reported? Continue reading

Progressives in Virginia In Position to Overrule Parental Objections to Invasive Child Gender Dysphoria Treatment

by James C. Sherlock

The Virginian-Pilot, in an editorial, bemoaned Governor Youngkin’s endorsement of a policy that would require schools to tell parents about their kids’ transexual identity expressions at school.

It’s as though the potential consequences of such a policy have never crossed his mind.

The sure consequences of opposing that policy were not discussed.

The Pilot brain trust did not address, and perhaps did not care, that a child in Virginia must have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria as a predicate for mental health treatment. And, of course, for physically invasive treatments.

Most Virginians think parental/guardian consent is required for all of that. It certainly should be. But it won’t be if progressives find the right judge.

Medical ethics should help protect kids, but will not. Progressive medical providers think themselves to be doing the best thing for the child, even with the dangerous, irreversible and ghastly treatments to which some providers subject children diagnosed as gender dysphoric.

Neither will judicial ethics. Read the papers every day for things that progressives think best for all of us. Progressive judges will think themselves to be doing the right thing as well.

Virginia is thick with progressive doctors and judges. It is thicker with parents.

The progressives need to be stopped by changes in Virginia law. This is a very complicated subject.  So the background discussion will be extensive.

Continue reading

American Kids Are Flabby. It Isn’t Because Of Climate Change.

by Kerry Dougherty

Just when you thought the world’s climate clowns couldn’t get any zanier there’s this:

Yep, these loons are now blaming America’s flabby, sedentary and out-of-shape children on global warming. Continue reading

Parental Rights Trump Kids’ Rights to Privacy

by Kerry Dougherty

In their relentless quest to slam Governor Glenn Youngkin, Virginia’s rabid lefties are now apoplectic because he believes parents ought to be notified if their troubled son is dressing as a girl at school and changing his name and pronouns.

How dare Youngkin say parents are entitled to know such things about their kids!

Boys have a right to visit their transition locker when they get to school to pick out a cute frock and matching pumps for the day. They can then use the girls’ room, demand to be called Susie, insist on she/her pronouns, and re-emerge as a boy before heading home.

What business is this nutty behavior to the people who are legally responsible for him and love him, the left asks. Continue reading

A Teacher Safety Perspective on Teacher Shortages

by James C. Sherlock

We have discussed here teachers shortages in Richmond and some of the other larger school divisions in Virginia.

When the issues of teachers being physically afraid to continue teaching because of behavioral chaos in the schools is brought up, it is ignored or dismissed by the left in favor of its “mean parents” narrative.

The facts do not matter to that narrative. But they matter to nearly everyone else except, for some strange reason, the teachers’ unions. I have no explanation for that.

Let’s look at high school teachers’ (and students’) fears for their safety from student assault. Continue reading

Virginia Needs Better Information Sharing to Provide Mandated Public Services to Illegals Efficiently and Effectively

by James C. Sherlock

I am on record as a persistent advocate of improving the quality of both schools and medical services for poor and minority citizens. It has been the main focus of my work for years.

In a directly related matter, we read, with different reactions depending upon our politics, of the struggles with uncontrolled immigration on border states on the one hand and D.C, New York City and Los Angeles on the other.

We are treated to the public spectacle of the mayors of sanctuary cities deploring massive new influxes of illegal border-crossers and asking for federal assistance. It provides one of the best object lessons in being careful what you ask for in recent public life.

All of that is interesting, but Virginians know that the problem is increasing. They know Virginia can’t fix it, and they want to know how Virginia will deal with it.

By law we owe illegals services. And we need to provide them efficiently and effectively both for humanitarian reasons and to ensure that citizens are not unnecessarily negatively affected.

There is work to do. Continue reading

Social Theory vs. Science in K-12 Discipline in Virginia – Fraud or Just Wrong?

Both fraudulent and wrong?

by James C. Sherlock

American school children have in my lifetime been the subject of widespread experiments in theory disguised as breakthroughs in education.

Consider the “new math” and the “reading wars” as prominent examples.

Now we have social theory on school discipline created by federal civil rights lawyers piggybacking on what may or may not prove to be successful academic practices for children with disabilities. That social theory has been promulgated as state policy guidance in Virginia.

A Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) has been used successfully in some instances to help teach academics to the learning-disabled.

This system was extended by lawyers from the aspirational left to school discipline and social-emotional learning without evidence. Now it has been published by the Virginia Board of Education for use by every school division in Virginia as a potential cure for “systemic racism” in discipline.

The 2021 Model Guidance for Positive, Preventative Code of Student Conduct Policy and Alternatives to Suspension (Virginia Model Guidance) may be fraudulently referenced. It is certainly incompletely referenced. Continue reading

The Public Housing and Education Debate – Who, Exactly, are the Racists?

Norfolk public housing immediately adjacent to old Virginian-Pilot building

by James C. Sherlock

There is agreement on both sides of the political divide in Virginia and the rest of the country that public housing projects were and are hellholes.

I have written that the bipartisan response, vouchers, run into lack of supply virtually everywhere.

Cue the debate about causes and solutions.

Let’s take a look at the evidence. Continue reading

Where Does Virginia Most Need Charter Schools?

by James C. Sherlock

Discussing failing schools in Virginia, people tend to speak in generalities. When an example is needed, the City of Richmond Public Schools is chosen — an uncontested layup.

But failed schools are not a problem just in Richmond. And bad public schools in Richmond are not limited to RPS. They are a problem to which VDOE has paid lip service, hamstrung by Virginia law and constitution when trying to fulfill federal mandates with federal money.

I will be very specific about schools and school divisions and the potential to help those children with professionally-run charter schools. Currently not a single one of the six or so charter schools in Virginia is managed by a successful charter management organization (CMO).

The most useful public list that we have at the moment for this discussion is the 2020-21 VDOE list of “Schools Identified for Support and Improvement under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).”

I will use that list to offer specificity to a Governor who wants to help. Continue reading

No, Your Middle Schooler Doesn’t HAVE to Get the HPV Vaccine

by Kerry Dougherty

Virginia Beach Delegate Tim Anderson took his sons to see the new “Minions” movie two weeks ago at the Regal Cinemas at Town Center.

They were settled in their seats when a disturbing image appeared on the screen.

The movie wasn’t offensive. But a public service announcement from the Virginia Department of Health was. It told the audience that a vaccine against HPV — the human papillomavirus — was required for entry into Virginia middle schools.

Trouble is, that’s deceptive. While that vaccine against a common STD is listed with the mandates, parents can decide if they want their child to receive it. Continue reading