Category Archives: Children and families

Partisan Poison: Va Dems Quash a Bill to Protect School Kids

Del. A.C. Cordoza

by Kerry Dougherty 

How exactly is Virginia’s General Assembly celebrating Black History Month?

By killing a bill to protect children in public school lavatories, introduced by Del. A.C. Cordoza of Hampton.

Cordoza is an African-American. And a Republican. He was famously denied membership in the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus when he was elected in 2022.

Sadly, to the caucus, he’s not the right kind of Black man. Because his views are on the right.

Cordoza claims his bill that would require school personnel to check bathrooms every 30 minutes would not require added personnel nor would it cost taxpayers a dime.

It was tabled, he told the Virginia Mercury, because he’s a Republican.

While the proposed legislation was not expected to impact state spending, Cordoza said his bill was still forwarded from the House Education Committee to the House Appropriations Committee for review. It died in that committee without a hearing.

“It’s sent there to die,” said Cordoza, “to die quietly because they don’t want the world to know that they’re killing a bill to protect little girls in the bathroom, but they want to make sure that a Black Republican is not the one who does it.” said Del. A.C. Cordoza, R-Hampton.

It’s actually a practical suggestion, given that there have been a number of assaults in several school bathrooms, and perhaps some that have not been reported. Having an adult stick his or her head in the lavatory every 30 minutes would certainly discourage bullies and sex offenders. Continue reading

Teacher Vacancies in Virginia Cities with a Majority of Black Students Continue to be Very High

by James C. Sherlock

The statewide performance of Black kids on Virginia’s SOLs was horrible. Chronic absenteeism is a primary reason.

But I continue to look for underlying reasons and solutions for both.

This morning I checked the Staffing and Vacancy Dashboard.

The teacher vacancy rate for Region 2, Tidewater and the Eastern Shore, is currently the highest in the state at 7.62%. That statistic combines teachers and special education teachers aides and paraprofessionals. There are 3,115 unfilled positions in Region 2.

That region has been the worst in the state for a long time.

The next highest is Central Virginia at 4.9%. Southwest Virginia is lowest at 2.28%.

Region 2 vacancies both in actual numbers and in percentages are always high because school staff vacancies in Hampton Roads’ majority Black urban cities, and their proportion of the region’s public-school population, drive them up.

The data reveal that in divisions with majorities of Black students in the rest of the state, some are very high and some not.

Petersburg, as such things happen, is off the charts.

But there are a major differences in teacher vacancies, and in student performance, between Black kids in Black majority urban cities (Suffolk is a officially a city but not urban) with the honorable exception of Hampton’s Black student SOL scores, and those in Black majority rural counties.

We should perhaps look at what vacancies can tell us.

And another time at what the City of Hampton Public Schools has been doing right for so long. Continue reading

Boys Left Behind Academically – Yet Another Crisis in Virginia Schools

by James C. Sherlock

Girls significantly outperform boys in English Language Arts (ELA) (reading and writing) in public schools and perform about as well in math and science, both across the nation and in Virginia.

Virginia statewide SOL performance statistics give the details here.

Across the state, girl students are better readers and far better writers than boys. Those English language arts performances at the state level of course mask both smaller and greater gaps in individual divisions and schools.

The writing gaps exist in both high-performing Loudoun County and in poor-performing Richmond City schools.

Broken down to the next level of detail in writing performance statewide, it looks worse.

There is a single-sex classroom option that has been operating for a long time at a middle school in Prince William County. For the best ELA results, it is reasonable to think that model may have to be extended to elementary school.

College and Career Readiness statistics offer confirmation of the outcome of boys’ ELA deficiencies.

The Virginia Literacy Act starting in the 2024-25 school year will make major upgrades to literacy instruction.

Absenteeism.  It would be easy to consider educational gaps in boys to be an artifact of higher absenteeism than girls.  But that’s not it.

One of the artifacts of my research into chronic absenteeism in Virginia public schools statewide in 2023 was that male and female results by percentage were exactly the same: 19.5%.

That, on the surface at least, may confirm parental influence on absenteeism.

The science of learning in boys. The medical community has offered scientific observations of brain science and social development that matter here.

Those observations typically include, aggregated by Microsoft Bing AI search from three different sources:

  • Boys’ brains secrete less serotonin, which is directly related to impulse control;
  • Boys start out primarily as tactile and kinesthetic learners;
  • Boys show more areas in the brain dedicated to spatial-mechanical strengths;
  • Girls generally demonstrate a focus on verbal-emotive processing;
  • Girls have more of their cerebral cortex defined for verbal function;
  • The hippocampus, where memory and language live, does develop more rapidly and is larger in girls than in boys. This impacts vocabulary, reading, and writing skills.

We will consider those to be illustrative. They certainly seem to argue for different approaches to educating boys and girls.

Asian students.  The special case of Asian students in ELA and all other subjects must be taken into account when seeking solutions to the boy/girl gaps. They absolutely blow away all other demographics of students, despite the fact that English may not be the first language spoken at home.

That clearly represents a difference in learning style and effort, not in teaching style.

The public data on Asian students are not in Virginia deconstructed by male and female results, but I have asked VDOE to provide and I will report it.

Educational evidence.  In 2005, the Policy and Program Studies Service of the U.S. Department of Education published Single-Sex Versus Coeducational Schooling: A Systematic Review.  

The reviewers used What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) standards to sort through 2,221 studies.

The Executive Summary is here. I urge you to read it.

You will see that the bulk of the evidence at the time of that review favored learning in single-sex schools. But you will also see that the support for the conclusions is generally thin because of a dearth of scientific studies of important issues.

A current search of WWC on that topic yields no study that meets their standards.

The ed schools have moved on.

Single-sex classrooms have been offered successfully at Woodbridge Middle School in Prince William County for more than a dozen years.  We will examine that in more detail in the next article.

But that single school effort is not robust enough to meet WWC standards. It will take a much broader, scientifically designed and run trial.

Bottom line. The educational gaps between boys and girls are too big for state government and citizens to continue to ignore in Virginia.

Indiana has not ignored them. See both sides of The Great Gender Debate: Should Boys And Girls Learn Separately? published by Indiana’s State Impact Project.

It is time to focus on the education of boys who, unsurprisingly, act and learn like boys.

Woodbridge Middle has proven it is possible to offer single-sex classrooms in co-ed public schools, subject to parental choice of classroom assignments.

And it has apparently solved, if such a thing is achievable, the ACLU’s objections to single-sex schools detailed in The Great Gender Debate.

Next time I will offer a concept for the voluntary implementation by school divisions of single-gender and co-ed classrooms in co-ed public schools across Virginia.

It will serve as the basis for a definitive study to provide the evidence needed to solve the debate.

Updated Dec. 19 at 15:20 to add the discussion about Woodbridge Middle and to eliminate the discussion about ed schools.

Charlottesville, Its Public Schools and UVa – Part Three – CCS Abandons Truancy Filings, Absenteeism Soars

Courtesy of

by James C. Sherlock

The effects of public policies can be murky.

Not this one.

The subject in this Part 3 is alarming chronic absenteeism of Charlottesville City Schools (CCS).  

At issue is the virtual abandonment by that division of the use truancy filings with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, removing parental consequences.  

That change has been accompanied by enormous increases in absenteeism and everything, all bad, that comes with it.

The numbers are stark. Continue reading

Charlottesville, Its Public Schools and UVa – Part One – Bad things Happen

Charlottesville neighborhoods.  Courtesy Charlottesville Low-Income Housing Coalition

by James C. Sherlock

In the relationship between Charlottesville and the University of Virginia, very bad things have happened to Charlottesville and continue to do so.

I have developed a working thesis on that relationship.

The city is at the mercy of the University by virtue of the latter’s wealth, influence, and power in Charlottesville elections.

It is, driven by University community voters, the bluest voting district in the Commonwealth.

Unfailingly progressive Charlottesville city council, school board and Commonwealth’s Attorney candidates are elected by the dominant votes of the University, its employees and its students.

Charlottesville City Schools (CCS) are to a large degree creatures of the University.

Many CCS teachers have their bachelors and/or advanced degrees from UVa’s School of Education and Human Development. Many University ed school students do their student teaching in Charlottesville.

Every progressive educational policy and virtually every experiment the University’s ed school can dream up are visited on those students.  The University’s ed school Research Centers and Labs find the proximity convenient and a pliant school board welcoming.

The University can’t bear to leave anything in CCS alone.

As Charlottesville High School faces the aftermath of rising rates of violence at the school and three canceled days of school due to alack of personnel, teachers at the University and other community groups have assisted in the school’s response. Faculty from the University’s School of Education and Human Development were present at development sessions with Charlottesville High School teachers aiming to address underlying issues….

“Dr. Stephanie Rowley, dean of the University’s Education School, said faculty from Education’s counselor education and educational psychology programs were particularly involved with the efforts because of the relevance of their expertise.”

There is no record of their being invited.

“Lack of personnel”.  The teachers walked out because of runaway violence.

The University “lent a hand”.

“In light of the University’s recent push to bolster its impact in Charlottesville, some members of the University who specialize in education attended the teacher work day meetings at Charlottesville High School.”

Seriously.  To “bolster (the University’s) impact in Charlottesville”.

For Black children in CCS schools, that influence, long-running and well-meaning though it has been, has turned out to have been a disaster unparalleled in the Commonwealth.

Continue reading

A VSU Officer was Shot and Left Paralyzed. At Thanksgiving, Readers Can Help Him and His Family

VSU Police Officer Bruce Foster. Courtesy Foster Family fundraiser website

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia State University (VSU) Police Officer Bruce Foster, 38, was shot on November 12.

He had chased down a suspect who was causing an early Sunday morning disturbance on campus.

Officer Foster was shot from behind while making the arrest.  He remains hospitalized and paralyzed from the waist down.

The five-year veteran of the VSU Police Department has a wife and four children.

This Thanksgiving, each of our readers can help him and his family through this.

VSU Police Officer Bruce Foster and his wife, Deidra. Courtesy Foster Family fundraiser website

I hope you will.

To donate to the Foster Family fundraiser, click here.

Bruce Foster and his four children.  Courtesy of the Foster Family fundraiser website.

Yes, Virginia, There is a TikTok, and It’s Chinese

Credit Tamara Beckwith, NY Post

by James C. Sherlock

From the NY Post:

“TikTok shredded as influencers promote Osama bin Laden’s ‘terrorist propaganda’ tirade dubbed ‘Letter to America’ after 9/11 attacks”

Virginia bans porno sites.

How did we miss our kids’ favorite (Chinese) app TikTok?

Never Again

Chinese-funded Code Pink’s co-founder Medea Benjamin at antisemitic rally in D.C. Nov. 4th. Courtesy Asra Nomani

by James C. Sherlock

At 78, I have been all over the world often and for long periods of time. I felt myself reasonably immune to cultural surprises.

But I had never seen anything like this.

It was the Maghrib prayer time about 5 p.m. on Saturday. On the southeast corner of 12th and Pennsylvania Ave. in D.C., a devout Muslim man was in the sujood prayer position on the sidewalk, forehead touching the ground.

That was not the surprise.

But a girl we took to be the praying man’s daughter was waiting a few feet away next to her mother and three young siblings. She looked to be, at the most, four years old.

There had been thousands like her at the festival on that beautiful afternoon. Families with toddlers and baby carriages were everywhere at the edges of the demonstrations. Watching. Learning.

Full of adrenaline from the hate that had been spewed out on a huge screen broadcasting anti-Israel rally speakers in the middle of shut-down Pennsylvania Avenue, that beautiful little girl was jumping up and down, tiny fists clenched, shouting in her small voice “Gaza,” “Gaza,” “Gaza.”

Three thousand years of hatred of Jews was being passed down to another generation.

It is never going to stop. Continue reading

Freedom, Consistency, and Tuesday’s Election

The capital city

by Shaun Kenney

One of the great things about being a conservative is that we are inherently an anti-ideology. As the late William F. Buckley Jr. once put it, the great task of the modern conservative movement is to stand athwart history yelling STOP!

Yet in a wider sense, it is far easier for conservatives to tack with the wind than our counterparts on the left. Liberals tend to wed themselves to institutions and then find themselves besieged by conservatives who continue to ask why and progressives who demand more on the what and how.

One of the particular demands on the conservative movement at present is whether or not we are a big tent or a fortress.

More particular is this: do we have to surrender what we believe in order to become more palatable to the wider public?

Or is there simply a better way of packaging what we believe and describing why it matters to working class families? In short, if what we believe has a kernel of truth to it, isn’t persuasion better than fighting?

The truth is that Republicans are far better at adapting what we believe to the times than our counterparts on the left precisely because we keep asking the same question over and over again: Does this expand the cause of human freedom — or not?

For Virginia Republicans, the sentiment is as old as there has been a Republican Party of Virginia — thank you General William Mahone. The maxim was best articulated by one Richard D. Obenshain, who by sheer force of will resurrected what we know as the present-day Virginia GOP from mere footnote to statewide conscience, serving as state party chairman in 1972 before his U.S. Senate bid in 1978. Continue reading

“Good old TikTok: Chinese spy engine and purveyor of virulent antisemitic lies.” Sen. Josh Hawley

San Francisco High School students enflamed by false report from the NYT (which later offered “nuance”) broadcast worldwide on TikTok #freepalestine that Israel bombed that hospital in Gaza.

by James C. Sherlock

Taylor Lorenz, the estimable young Tech and Online Culture columnist for The Washington Post, has been the author of some of the most important reports on the Hamas-Israel war.

Today, she published with Drew Harwell, a Post reporter covering artificial intelligence and the algorithms changing our lives, “Israel-Gaza war sparks debate over TikTok’s role in setting public opinion.

A pro-Palestinian hashtag, #freepalestine, had … 770 million views over the last 30 days in the United States, TikTok data show.

To longtime TikTok critics like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), that assertion offered further proof that the app, owned by the China-based tech firm ByteDance, is a secretive propaganda engine built to manipulate American teens for Chinese geopolitical goals — in this case, Rubio said, to “downplay … Hamas terrorism.”

The same Post article, attempting balance, reports both the Sen. Hawley quote in the title of this piece and that:

TikTok creators and social media experts say the reality (of reporting on the war) is more nuanced (than critics have asserted).

“Nuanced.” What would we do without “TikTok creators and social media experts”? Continue reading

Deja Taylor Had One Job: Stay Clean and Sober

by Kerry Dougherty

Good grief, lady. You had ONE job.

Just one.

Your assignment was to stay clean and sober for four months, but apparently Deja Taylor – the mother of the 6-year-old Newport News first grader who shot his teacher with his mother’s gun – couldn’t do that.

After pleading guilty in June to charges that she lied about being an illegal drug user on federal firearm forms and for unlawful use of a controlled substance while possessing a gun, Taylor tested positive for pot in July. Wait. There’s more. On August 26, according to WAVY-TV 10, she had cocaine and marijuana in her system. Both drug tests are awaiting confirmation.

Taylor also failed to take part in substance abuse treatment that was mandated by the court and she didn’t show up for scheduled drug tests, according to court documents. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Plumbing New Depths of Depravity

“I shot that bitch dead!” Those are the words of the six-year-old student at Richneck Elementary School in January shortly after he shot his teacher Abigail Zwerner, according to recently unveiled court documents reported by The Virginian-Pilot.  One has to ask: in what kind of world does a six-year-old child think that way? In what kind of world would a six-year-old who thinks that way actually carry out his violent intent? Somehow, we have come to live in a world in which many families fail to teach the most basic norms of civilized behavior. I apologize: I shouldn’t have used the word “civilized.” Even in so-called uncivilized societies, young children don’t behave that way. The United States of America has reached a new stage in human social evolution that is more debased than any other.

Parents’ rights and social media. Speaking of plumbing new depths of depravity, there is a growing sense that social media has a corrosive effect on America’s children — mainstreaming pornography, violence, and reckless, self-destructive behavior. Social media was a major topic of conversation in a “parents matter” town hall meeting that Governor Glenn Youngkin held in Hanover County yesterday. Said one participant: “It is like closing a door with all the windows open. I feel like anyone can come in at any time, and as much as we try to protect our children, it’s really hard and you feel incredibly vulnerable.” Continue reading

Anti-Asian Discrimination is Condoned in Fairfax County

by Carl Noller

People have been coming to America for centuries, many of them drawn by the opportunities this country offered. It was less who you knew or who you could bribe and more what you knew. Martin Luther King may have put it best when he encouraged us to judge others by the content of character, rather than skin color. Recently, however, Democrats have been telling us that this is all wrong — that race is the critical factor. Diversity, as a social goal, trumps all others.

We have been electing Democrats in recent years, and, not surprisingly, they have begun implementing that vision, which inflames racial tensions. This can be seen very clearly with the changes in admissions criteria at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, ranked the best high school in the nation. The School Board deemed the Fairfax County high school too Asian. The student body needed to be more “diverse,” more reflective of the community. The School Board engineered this under a revised admissions process, which eliminated the standardized admissions test, eliminated the $100 application fee, and reserved seats in the freshman class for the top 1.5 percent of applicants from every middle school in the county. The effect was noticeable and will increase over the next three classes before leveling off, as those chosen under the old rules graduate.

Continue reading

Speaking of Banning Books

by John Massoud

Earlier this month, a Warren County resident was complaining about a “small group of people who wish to ban books” from the Samuels Library. The writer talked about how many of the speakers that evening were not Warren County residents, or may have just purchased a library card so they could speak.

The writer may not be aware of this, but by that last statement, he was trying to suppress free speech. Several of the speakers who were supporting allowing these books in the children’s section of Samuels Library were trying to suppress free speech. One of the more egregious examples was a young lady who early in the meeting said that “churches should not be allowed to speak” because they “don’t pay taxes.” What she meant to say was that no person who attends a church should be allowed to speak. So people who attend church, who pay their taxes, should not be allowed to speak, yet anyone who agrees with those wanting to show porn to kids should be allowed to speak as they wish. This according to the logic of those who want to show porn to children.

People like the writer say they are 100 percent for free speech. Yet they want anyone who disagrees with them to not be allowed to speak. The writer does not support free speech. He supports free speech if you agree with him. With that being said, here are the books that many leftists want banned (and in some cases have gotten banned):

Of Mice and Men

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

To Kill a Mockingbird

Six books written by Dr. Seuss

For the record, I, like pretty much every person today, finds use of the N word despicable. Yet, the fact is that “Huck Finn” is an American classic. Should Huckleberry Finn be banned because Mark Twain used a word which may have been acceptable in the late 1800s but is now rightly seen as disgusting? Of course not. Dr. Seuss is coming under fire because some radicals’ sensibilities are offended over artwork. Dr. Seuss was the least racist person of his time. Continue reading

Equal Protection, Affirmative Action and Effecting Generational Change

by James C. Sherlock

America is the most successful nation in the history of the world because of the freedoms and rights guaranteed by our Constitution.

More than a hundred other nations have emulated the American Constitution.

Without constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and rights, we would be chained to the whims of the state. Most immediately to the whims of the executive branch. There would be precious little for the judicial branch to protect.

A recent Supreme Court decision found affirmative action in college admissions to be unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment, Section 1:

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Justice Roberts for the majority ruling that the Harvard and UNC admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause:

Both programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful end points. We have never permitted admissions programs to work in that way, and we will not do so today.

Three justices disagreed.

Justice Sotomayor read her opinion from the bench — a sign of strong disagreement. An excerpt:

Today, this Court stands in the way and rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress. It holds that race can no longer be used in a limited way in college admissions to achieve such critical benefits. In so holding, the Court cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter.

Note that Justice Sotomayor, as always careful of the words in her opinions, chose “endemically” to modify “segregated.” Oxford dictionary: “regularly found and very common among a particular group or in a particular area.”

That is different than the word “systemically” — Oxford: “in a basic and important way that involves the whole of an organization or a country and not just particular parts of it.” Continue reading