Category Archives: Children and families

“Toxic” Parents in Harrisonburg

Harrisonburg City Public Schools

by James C. Sherlock

Harrisonburg City Public Schools (HCPS) have a tough row to hoe.

April Howard, HCPS chief officer for student support, noted in a presentation to the school board on October 19 of 2021:

Fall 2021 Student Trends
➔ Observations of increased anxiety
➔ Increased school refusal
➔ Increased reports of suicidal ideation—utilization of SPG protocol
➔ Increased needs for emotional regulation support
➔ Increased behavioral issues in pre K-12
➔ Concerns related to loss of social skills due to pandemic-related isolation

That is a common list of the monumental issues brought about by the COVID closures.

So, HCPS somehow thought it a good time to pick a fight over protecting “transgender and gender questioning” kids from their teachers and parents.

They got one. Continue reading

How are Virginians Preparing for the Coming Food Price Shocks?

by James C. Sherlock

Virginians have only begun to experience price inflation at the grocery store.

Price increases are in the food pipeline that will be a much bigger problem starting this summer.

Farmers and ranchers invest up front. They borrow money to do it. They are incredibly efficient at what they do, but are at the mercy of input prices. They must wait until their crops and animals are sold to recoup their investments.

Everything farmers and ranchers do with their farm machinery requires diesel. So do the trucks that move crops to those who prepare them for our use and then to market. Diesel prices are expected to reach more than $6 per gallon this summer, a 35% increase from current prices. Inventories are low.

Most fertilizer is an oil derivative and has skyrocketed up to 300% since early 2021. On average, fertilizer in March of this year was 35% more expensive than it was in the fall of 2021, with Roundup up nearly 90%. In six months.

Of course, the feed ranchers buy for their animals comes from the produce of America’s farmers.

Producer prices that reflect what they have paid for diesel and fertilizer and the trucking costs of moving those crops are predicted to reach grocery stores in the summer and fall. That hardly suggests that the 9% inflation recently seen in retail food prices is the end of it.

It is important to ask what our governments and our best charities are doing to prepare. Continue reading

“The Kids Are Out of Control”

Here’s more evidence that the social fabric is fraying: a high school senior was stabbed to death in a fight that spilled into an Alexandria neighborhood shopping center a couple of days ago. Just as Americans seem powerless to stop tragedies like the Uvalde school shooting, we seem impotent to halt the far more common number of incidents with smaller body counts.

Several elements fuel the combustion. One is the ubiquity of guns in the United States (although it must be noted that the Alexandria student was stabbed, not shot). Another is the surge in mental illness. Democrats emphasize the guns, Republicans the mental illness, each in line with their respective desires to indict or absolve firearms. But I suspect there are other factors at play, at least in incidents like the Alexandria fracas: cell phones and the erosion of adult authority. Arguments originating in social media during the school day often get resolved outside school. As one of the parents in the video above observed, “The kids are out of control.”

And adults are helpless to control them, she could have added.

Better physical security inside schools will help prevent lone shooters from entering into the schools. (See Jim Sherlock’s recent column.) There is something to be said for that. But I question whether school “hardening” can do anything to curtail fights that take place outside schools in nearby parking lots. — JAB

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