Category Archives: Civil Rights

Understaffed Police Departments, Skyrocketing Gun Violence and “Stop and Frisk”

by James C. Sherlock

The print edition of The Virginian-Pilot today ran the story we commented on yesterday on the surge in gun violence killing children in Norfolk. The headline in the online version:

Nearly a dozen children were shot in July in Norfolk. Communities are hurting, and activists want change.

None of the nearly 2,200 words of the article mentioned stop and frisk. The referenced “activists” oppose stop and frisk as unavoidably linked to racial profiling. Courts disagree.

But I suspect that The Virginian-Pilot considers it off limits to even bring up.

It is one of the most fundamental policing techniques for reducing gun violence. In 2011, the NYPD arrested 82,286 persons as a result of stop and frisk encounters. Mike Bloomberg was mayor. The use of stop and frisk has plummeted since then under Mayor DeBlasio.

Those concerned with urban violence have a right to be concerned.  The past few years of political turmoil over policing has resulted in increasing shortages of officers and reductions in street policing. The direct results: more guns on the street, more killings of the innocent. Continue reading

Only the Courts Are Protecting Virginians – Again

by James C. Sherlock

Barton Swain explores a topic in the Wall Street Journal that bears examination in Virginia. He makes a profound observation:

“The sheer illogic of (the Texas election laws) controversy captures something essential about culture-war progressives. They are able to embrace a cause, condemn dissenters and doubters as monsters, and experience no cognitive dissonance despite having themselves held the contrary view a short time ago.”

It is evidence of a rejection by many of their own personal and political histories — of positions they once claimed on moral grounds. They dismiss citizens as beneath contempt for beliefs that until recently they held themselves. 

Sackcloth and ashes are not often in evidence, unless you count black face. Continue reading

Richmond Public Schools Show No Progress on Staff COVID Vaccinations

by James C. Sherlock

Last updated Just 15 at 4:16 PM

I have long taken a personal interest in the City of Richmond Public Schools (RPS). Its students have a right under the Virginia constitution to a quality education that they are systematically denied. RPS has utterly failed to educate the children under its care. The proof is in the Virginia Department of Education’s School Quality Report.

The Board of Education dutifully reports that fact every year to the Governor and the General Assembly — another constitutional requirement. Neither takes effective action.

Now most of RPS school personnel have failed to get vaccinated. School starts next month.

Action is warranted. None appears in the offing. Continue reading

Transgender Medical Care for Children – Do not Parents Have a Role?

by James C. Sherlock

Yesterday’s two-part column, I responded to the Virginian-Pilot’s assertion that transgender rights are being conflated by conservatives with critical race theory in schools. 

I agree that they are, and I find it appropriate.  

Child instruction in CRT and transgender affirming psychological and medical interventions for children without parent participation are being advocated by the same people.

Some of our progressive commenters professed shock — shock — that I would characterize VDOE’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools as child transgender advocacy.  

A motion for immediate relief from Model Policies filed in Lynchburg circuit court offered some of the legal objections. Amicus briefs have been filed on both sides. So fair enough to disagree with me.

I will relate two contrasting viewpoints, one expressed in The Washington Post and the other by the the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The first minimizes the role of parents; the other considers parents as partners.

That is the primary political bone of contention in both the CRT in K-12 public schools and transgender student model policies controversies. The rest is details. To argue otherwise is sophistry.  So pick a side. Continue reading

Journalistic Competence and Integrity, Explained – Part 1

V-P building in Norfolk is being turned into 181 apartments. Staff members working from their homes.

by James C. Sherlock

A couple of reporters, Sara Gregory and Matt Jones, wrote the lead front page article in The Virginian-Pilot print edition today.  

It was headlined “Critical Race Theory, Explained” and was presented as news, not opinion.

The line between the two is more blurred every day. I wish it were not, but that is not my objection.

People are entitled to their own opinions on critical race theory and its implementation in K-12 schools. Honest people can disagree. But a newspaper is not entitled to wrongly redefine ideas that form the basis of an active public debate and then criticize one side.

That happened here. Continue reading

Where Is a Parents’ Bill of Rights for Virginia?

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes, the simplest and certainly one of the best ways for a public official to serve the public is to inform them about things they care about.

The Attorney General of Indiana, perhaps the best governed state in America, has just published a roadmap for parents and caregivers to “exercise their legal right to have a voice in their children’s education.”

It is called the Parents Bill of Rights and is exactly the kind of initiative attorneys general should take to inform citizens of their rights on issues of public importance.

Good luck seeing such an assessment from Virginia’s AG. Continue reading

Richmond’s Disastrous Public Schools Expose Hypocrisy of State Equity Policy

by James C. Sherlock

I am, tomorrow, going to report a hopeful note about the City of Richmond Public Schools (RPS).  

It will relate the story of an impressive woman who is working hard to turn around the absolutely horrendous reading and math capabilities of RPS students. But in order to put her challenge in context, I feel I must set the stage for the challenges she faces.

They are monumental.

But this is not tomorrow, and RPS is a disgrace. It is ruining thousands of children’s lives every day it operates under current conditions.

The Governor lives a seven-minute walk away from RPS headquarters on North 9th Street, but he seems not to know that school system exists. His famously aggressive equity czar, Janice Underwood, takes no notice.  

Neither does his Department of Education, although VDOE is directly responsible to the federal government for the annual improvement of most Richmond schools in return for receipt of Title I funds.  

That neglect is not for lack of evidence. 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

Two Police Officers Made Windsor Famous

by Kerry Dougherty

Looks like Windsor, Virginia, is finally on the map.

For all the wrong reasons.

The tiny incorporated town in Isle of Wight County, just west of Suffolk, is home to about 2,758 people.

It’s not a place that makes much news and the folks there probably like it that way.

But a traffic-stop-gone-bad catapulted the town into the national spotlight this weekend. From the Drudge Report to The New York Times, the media zeroed in on the behavior of two gun-pointing small-town police officers caught on body cam footage yelling at an African-American Army officer who was being detained over a missing license plate.

At the request of the Windsor Police Department, Gov. Ralph Northam called for a state police investigation into the incident. Continue reading

Virginia to Teach Critical Race Theory to Newborns

by James C. Sherlock

George Orwell

George Orwell, call your office. A copy of “Virginia’s (New) Birth-to-Five Early Learning and Development Standards” is on your desk.

For our readers, go here and click the March 19 VDOE press release to download.

The Commonwealth has publishedVirginia’s Foundation Blocks for Early Learning” since at least 2013. They were excellent but voluntary. 

Progressives cannot abide voluntary.

They have always considered parents the biggest obstacle to turning kids into little “social justice” warriors. Virginia’s General Assembly progressives have fixed that problem. The new program is mandatory unless you keep your kids at home until they must by law attend K-12.

Where your kids will get a “late” start on that journey.

Parents have no voice, much less rights in the matter. That is a progressive definition of heaven. (If that word has not been cancelled — hard to keep up.) Continue reading

Hey, ACLU: Forget the Fence, Go After Curfews and Booze Restrictions

by Kerry Dougherty

Some of us have been waiting 11 months for Virginia’s legal eagles – especially the ACLU – to bombard the courts with a blizzard of challenges to Gov. Ralph Northam’s excessive executive orders that have stomped on the constitutional rights of millions of Virginians.

Instead we mostly got crickets.

For a time, churches were closed.

Where were the lawyers?

In most places public schools are closed, despite laws that require school districts to meet the educational needs of students with disabilities, many of whom can’t learn without face-to-face instruction.

Where are the lawyers? Continue reading

Shredding Virginia Employment Law One Bad Bill at a Time

Face palm

by Liam Bissainthe

The Virginia state senate has blocked a bill that could potentially change the definition of “sexual harassment.” It would hold even small employers liable for comments defined as either “workplace harassment” or “sexual harassment.” Employers would held liable even for conduct that occurs “outside of the workplace,” and even for conduct committed by “nonemployees” such as customers.

But the very same provisions are found in another bill passed by the Virginia House of Delegates, that is still sitting in a committee of the state senate. So the legislation could still conceivably become law.

In a 20-to-18 vote, the state senate voted on February 5 to send the first harassment bill (SB 1360) back to the Judiciary Committee, where it died on February 6. But the exact same provisions appear to be found in the second harassment bill, HB 2155, which is still alive and sitting in the General Laws committee. Continue reading

Herring Strikes Blow for Emotional Support Animals

Phoebe, the Bacon family emotional support cat, provides companionship and comfort — in sum, helps us maintain a “happier more full life” — during the COVID-19 shut-in.

by James A. Bacon

Attorney General Mark Herring has issued a press release touting his victory in compelling a Pulaski County townhouse community to accommodate a couple with an emotional support animal.

“Virginians with disabilities have the right to live with an assistance animal, especially if that assistance animal helps them live happier, more full lives — assistance animals are not pets and cannot be subject to fees or breed and weight restrictions like other pets can be,” said Herring. “Assistance animals … are often the best way for individuals with debilitating symptoms caused by various mental or physical impairments to substantial improve their quality of life.”

Here are the particulars of the case, as recounted in the press release. The couple, Michael and Charlene Butler, provided “clinical verification” of the need to bring Charlene’s assistance dog to live with them in the Unique Deerfield Village Townhomes Complex. The property managers imposed weight limits and pet deposit fees on the assistance animal. Continue reading

Basic Child Literacy Cannot Be too Much to Ask of Richmond City Public Schools

by James C. Sherlock

Half of Black 4th graders in Richmond public schools couldn’t read in 2019. That is not OK.

It is way past time to demand both better performance and accountability. Clearly neither the city of Richmond nor the Commonwealth has done that effectively.

So I have filed formal complaints with the federal government to see if the Departments that provide federal money to the Richmond City Public School District can establish accountability for how all of that money has been spent.

Jason Kamras currently serves as the Superintendent of Richmond Public Schools (RPS). He has first-rate credentials — National Teacher of the Year in 2005, undergraduate Princeton, masters in education from Harvard. Worked in leadership positions in D.C. Public Schools before coming to Richmond.

He is the highest-paid superintendent in Richmond history at $250,000 annually. His initial three-year contract was slated to expire this summer.  He just received a 4-year extension on a split 6-3 vote by the Richmond School Board.

The performance of Mr. Kamras’ Richmond School District is cataclysmically bad.   Continue reading

The Mythology of Robert E. Lee

By Peter Galuszka

With excellent timing, the former head of the history department at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has come out with a book about the mythology of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and much of the White “Southern” culture.

Retired U.S. Army Gen. Ty Seidule, a former paratrooper, has deep Virginia roots and his analysis goes right to the heart of the problems plaguing Virginia, Civil War memorabilia, Richmond, Charlottesville, the Virginia Military Institute and more.

He grew up in Alexandria and had ties to the Episcopal prep school where he expanded his desire to be a “Southern” gentleman while worshipping the likes of Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Here’s a link to my review of his book in Richmond’s Style Weekly. The Post also reviewed the book this past Sunday.