Category Archives: Culture wars

Resolution to Clarify Equity Training and Teaching

The Virginia Beach School Board will discuss the following resolution at a meeting tonight.

WHEREAS, the School Board of the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia values diversity, promotes inclusiveness and is committed to providing a learning environment whereby ALL students have access and opportunities to benefit from the high standards, support and resources required for a high quality education; and

WHEREAS, the School Board values the uniqueness of each member of its staff, student population and community and encourages individual and multiple perspectives; and

WHEREAS, the School Board must provide a clear and transparent understanding of the School Division’s positions and expectations regarding equity training, teaching and learning; and Continue reading

Mama Bears Vs. the Feds

by Asra Q. Nomani

Last Thursday night, October 7, local grandma Orene Blum stood graceful and dignified, draped in red, white and blue here at Luther Jackson Middle School, moments before a meeting of the Fairfax County School Board, holding a hand-painted sign: “FBI vs. Moms??”

Hours later, as the crowd of 100 people spoke their truth to power, the verdict was in: Moms win. Continue reading

Beating a Zombie Horse: Yes, Virginia, CRT Is Real

Image credit: PMSing Tiger at www.deviantart.com

by James A. Bacon

If these were normal times I could file this post under the “beating a dead horse” tab. Jim Sherlock and I have blogged repeated on the topic of Critical Race Theory in Virginia schools, providing abundant documentation along the way. But various parties — from the McAuliffe campaign to the Washington Post to commenters on this blog — insist upon revivifying the expired equine.

Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I’m beating a zombie horse — a dead horse that refuses to go down.

Hilariously, we are led to believe that Critical Race Theory is an arcane academic theory popular among legal scholars but is not, repeat not, taught in Virginia. Watch Terry McAuliffe dodge the question from a reporter about how he defines CRT. He doesn’t need to define it, he says. “It’s racist. It’s a dog whistle. It’s not taught here.”

The only interesting question here is whether McAuliffe is deliberately and knowingly deceiving the electorate, or if be actually believes his foolishness.

Two days ago legal blogger Scott Greenfield tweeted the following document in which Equity Leadership Coaching invoiced Loudoun County Public Schools $34,000 for coaching support, for developing a “culturally responsive teaching framework,” and for “equity committee planning,” all of which are ubiquitous buzz words in the educational establishment today. Continue reading

Porn OK in Schools If It Has “Literary Value”?

by Deborah Hommer

Parents all across the United States parents are discovering shocking reading materials in their school libraries and classrooms. We’re not talking about “Lady Chatterly’s Lover.” To give one particularly horrendous example, we’re talking graphic novels depicting fellatio and pedophilia. Many parents are asking, How can this be?

The U.S. federal government and every state has strict laws against obscenity and child pornography. In Reno v. ACLU (1997), the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “transmitting obscenity and child pornography, whether via the Internet or other means, is… illegal under federal law for both adults and juveniles.” Continue reading

Changing Culture with the Other CRT

by Carol J. Bova

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) document, “Navigating EdEquityVa — Virginia’s Road Map to Equity” lays out a back-door strategy for changing traditional American values and culture.

“The mission of the Virginia Department of Education,” says the Road Map, “is to advance equitable and innovative learning.” The document acknowledges senior staff, four departments and ten “organizations and thought leaders” for their research and scholarship contributions to EdEquityVA for Culturally Relevant/Responsive Teaching (CRT) — not to be confused with Critical Race Theory (also referred to as CRT).

While educators deny they teach Critical Race Theory in schools, they are up front about their commitment to Culturally Relevant/Responsive Teaching. What they seem unwilling to admit is that culturally relevant teaching is an outgrowth of Critical Race Theory. Continue reading

The Impermeable Thought Bubble that Is the Washington Post

by James A. Bacon

Here’s the Washington Post’s take on the Critical Race Theory furor in Northern Virginia: Nothing to see here, move along now.

The controversy over implementation of social-justice ideology in Virginia public schools has gotten so intense that there is simply no ignoring it, as the WaPo did for months. WaPo may be the last media outlet to acknowledge the tumult in its own back yard.

Now the WaPo is giving credence to the Democratic Party talking point that Republicans are creating a “scare tactic” or sending out “dog whistles” to stir up the base this fall.

A recent article addressing the controversy quotes Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political science professor, as saying that turning CRT into a target is a way to motivate Republicans to vote in a nonpresidential election year. “The threat that there’s some evil outside force pushing a radical agenda into your elementary school is a vehicle for getting people energized,” he said. “It’s more about turnout of the base than persuasion.” Continue reading

A Racially Divisive Disaster

Combustable

by Marilyn Rainville

As a retired teacher and mother of two raising a school-aged grandson, I am concerned about what is being taught in the Virginia’s public schools. Two weeks ago, I spoke at a Mathews County School Board meeting to voice my concerns about Critical Race Theory.

The school Superintendent declared that our county does not teach CRT. However, she told me that Virginia does require faculty professional development in the area of “Culturally Responsive Teaching” and “Equitable Practices,” which it links to teacher licensing and annual evaluations. Culturally Responsive Teaching is derived from Critical Race Theory!

A February teacher-training workshop on Equity and Culturally Responsive Teaching in Virginia Beach was leaked to the internet on rumble.com. Several Black presenters were indoctrinating White teachers about racism. Each one repeatedly told the White teachers that they were racist and that all White people are racist. One woman continually tried to persuade the audience to admit they were racist. “One of the most freeing things that White people can do,” she said, “is say ‘of course I’m racist.'” Continue reading

Charlottesville a Pioneer of Woke Architecture

The Darden School architecture was an homage to Thomas Jefferson’s academical village. Photo credit: UVA Today

A dustup over classical architecture at the University of Virginia prefigured the controversy over Donald Trump’s architecture executive order.

by Catesby Leigh

When Donald Trump ordered a traditionally oriented reform of federal architectural patronage in his final days as president, its life expectancy was exceedingly short. Sure enough, his successor soon revoked the order and subsequently defenestrated most of the members Trump appointed to a little-known but noteworthy design review board. To understand the affair, it’s worth reviewing what transpired in Charlottesville after the turn of the millennium, when the architecture wars heated up at the University of Virginia. On one side was the university’s architecture faculty, reflecting the arcane sensibilities of fashionable latter-day designers and academics and their fellow travelers in the legacy media. On the other side was common sense.

In 1996, UVA completed a new business school campus designed by Robert A. M. Stern, who emulated Thomas Jefferson’s beloved “academical village”—the original ensemble of Rotunda, pavilions, and connecting colonnades girding a long, terraced greensward known as the Lawn. Jefferson famously modeled his crowning Rotunda on Rome’s Pantheon. Stern’s ensemble, which shares UVA’s traditional palette of red brick with details in white wood and limestone, has been a hit with students. Other new buildings adhered to the architectural tradition that Jefferson inaugurated: a handsome pavilion designed by veteran classicist Allan Greenberg for a public-policy institute and a building by Washington’s Hartman-Cox Architects adjacent to the main university library that houses special collections.

So when it came time, in 2005, for the university’s Board of Visitors to consider alternative architectural approaches for a $105 million arts and sciences complex just south of Jefferson’s Lawn, more than half the faculty of the university’s monolithically modernist architecture school tried to head it off at the pass by denouncing traditionally oriented architectural patronage, in a broadside published in the student newspaper, as a matter of converting the university campus into “a theme park of nostalgia” — a Jeffersonian Disneyland. Continue reading

Parents Vs. the Political Class

Loudoun County parents pack a School Board meeting. Photo credit: Idiocracy News Media

by James A. Bacon

Who is sovereign in the United States — the people or the cultural elite and political class? Whose values should be reflected in the public schools — those of the people or those of the cultural elite and the political class?

That is the No. 1 question Virginia voters face in the gubernatorial race of 2021. Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe made the issue crystal clear — and whose side he is on — when he said during the debate with Republican Glenn Youngkin: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

The answer begs the question. If not parents, who should tell schools what they should teach? Sure, public schools need bureaucrats who are expert in the process of devising standards, curricula, methods, and tests. Sure, teachers don’t need parents micromanaging them. But who, ultimately, do the bureaucrats and teachers answer to?

Normally, such a question would not get people exercised. But these are not normal times. A movement of the cultural elites, originating in academia with increasing support from the political class, is pushing to convert schools from centers of learning into incubators for sweeping social and cultural change.  Continue reading

How to Fight the Cancel-Culture Thugs

Blaine Pardoe

by Blaine Pardoe

I am an established, bestselling, award-winning, Virginia author. When my latest book was announced, a conservative political thriller titled, “Blue Dawn,” I brought down the wrath of the leftist cancel culture. A very small but vocal group of ‘fans’ tried to get one of my publishers of 36+ years to cancel its contracts with me and pull my books from publication.

Their leader claimed that I had hidden secret racist messages in the subtext of my novels, as crazy as that sounds. These people confronted me online and went after my publishers issuing demands for my purging from the publishing world. This over a book that they had not even read yet!

I did what you would do, I blocked these people. I thought they would get tired and go away. I was wrong.

One of them, using a fake online persona, contacted a fellow author/friend of mine and threatened my life. Other threats were emailed to me or sent as comments to my blog from this person.

I learned a lot through this process. I worked with law enforcement, hired lawyers, worked with security professionals in the field, and I fought back. These woke-warriors came after me as they had with hundreds, if not thousands of other conservatives. Our crime is one of not capitulating, not folding, not voluntarily censoring our thoughts or work.

I also learned how to fight these individuals, which is what I’d like to share with you. Continue reading

McAuliffe: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

by Shaun Kenney

Remember the old adage — the goal isn’t to win the debate, but to make sure you don’t lose the debate.

Former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe was pressed on graphic textbooks — and I mean graphic — of a sexual nature being included in government school libraries, and McAuliffe exploded with rage.

Not towards school districts, mind you — but towards busybody parents who had the audacity to look into what their children were actually being taught in the classroom.

That’s when McAuliffe decided to say the quiet part out loud:

That sound you heard last night was the simultaneous squealing of wheels on the mental pavement of a million Virginians. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Intolerable Behavior

Good neighbors. Janique Martinez and her family, who are Black, moved into a Virginia Beach cul-de-sac on Jessamine Court five years ago. Some time ago, “constant” banjo music began emanating from the house next door. Then in July, sounds of a monkey screeching came through a window every 15 to 30 seconds. The loud noise was a nuisance, but multiple visits by police to the neighbor brought only temporary respite. Then in September, Martinez said she started hearing the n-word. Virginia Beach officials say they can’t do anything more than they already have. But the community has rallied around the Martinez family. Last Friday about 25 people gathered on the street Friday chanting, “Spread love, not hate,” according to The Virginian-Pilot story. Apparently, the neighbors didn’t need indoctrination sessions under the guise of “training” to know racism when they see it, to stand up against it, and to show solidarity with their Black friends.

Bad neighbors. Chad Wolf, who served as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under Donald Trump, writes today in The Daily Signal how he was targeted last year by protesters outside his house week after week. The “protest” played out the same way every day: the demonstrators would organize a quarter mile away, march through neighborhood streets, holding up traffic, then remain for an hour or more while shouting through loudspeakers. They never applied for a permit, which was required in the City of Alexandria. But there was a difference from the Martinez case. City Councilman John Chapman joined the protesters on several occasions. And so did some of Wolf’s neighbors.

— JAB

If You Thought Virginia Higher Ed Couldn’t Get Worse…. You’re Wrong

Traditional civics education, meet the new civics education.

by James A. Bacon

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) announced today that it has joined forces with dozens of higher education and student organizations in a “shared commitment” to make “democracy learning” a top priority for higher education.

In a SCHEV press release, this commitment is expressed in the most neutral and anodyne of terms. The Shared Commitment signatories, says the SCHEV statement, calls for “civic inquiry, practice in civil discourse and collaborative work on real-world public problems.”

“By thoughtfully incorporating civic learning into their academic and extracurricular programs, Virginia’s colleges and universities are equipping students with knowledge and skills that will benefit not only the students themselves, but their families and communities now and well into the future,” says SCHEV Director Peter Blake.

It sounds benign. Every thinking person would agree that all Virginians would benefit from learning how to be better-informed and more-engaged citizens. But is that what SCHEV and Virginia are signing up for? Or is the Shared Commitment just another tool for making “social justice” a core mission of Virginia’s colleges and universities? Will the result be a citizenry that is more capable of thinking independently and rigorously about public issues, or one that is more steeped in the “woke” pieties about race, class, and gender? Continue reading

How Not to Create a Diverse, Welcoming Workplace

Michelle Vermillion

by James A. Bacon

Michelle Vermillion was raised an old-fashioned liberal. She grew up thinking that people should be treated as individuals, judged, as Martin Luther King once dreamed, by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. She supports civil rights causes and endorses diversity in the workplace. Getting to know people of different backgrounds at work, she believes, is key for America to move beyond its racist past. When you get to know your coworkers as fellow humans, she says, you learn they want basically the same things you do.

But as a library staffer working at the University of Virginia Library, Vermillion felt increasingly increasingly ill at ease in the past few years. Rather than seeing a person’s race as an incidental part of his or her identity, the UVa Library administration began putting racial identity front and center. Town hall meetings and training programs made race a person’s defining characteristic.

“I’m not the one who changed,” Vermillion says. UVa changed. The traumatizing 2017 Unite the Right Rally, in which white supremacists clashed with counter-protestors, precipitated a bout of introspection about the role of slavery and segregation in the institution’s past. The Ryan administration doubled down on a commitment to recruit more Black students and faculty with its “Inclusive Excellence” program. The end result: library administrators today are fixated on race, and they are dedicated to imposing their ideological framework derived from Critical Race Theory upon library staff.

There is no escaping the obsession with race, she says. Many employees have reservations, but, for all the administration’s happy talk about engaging in a “dialogue,” they are afraid to speak out.

By this summer, Vermillion couldn’t take it anymore. She tried introducing different perspectives and sparking a conversation. The administration shut her down. Submitting her resignation, she worked her last day at the library Sept. 3. Continue reading

Lee, a Study in Contradictions

By Bill O’Keefe

Yesterday’s edition of The New York Times contains an opinion piece — “How Do I Tell the Story of Robert E. Lee,” by Allen Guelzo a professor at Princeton University. It came to me from a colleague of his whom I casually know but respect. Guezlo is about to publish “Robert E. Lee: A Life,” and the opinion piece is about his struggle to do so fairly. His book represents seven years of effort and, as he himself states, “Lee is a study in contradictions.” Dealing with those contradictions fairly would explain a seven-year undertaking.

Guelzo makes his challenge clear with this statement: “There are some biographies that are almost impossible to write, but write them we must. Biography demands a close encounter with a subject, an entrance into motive, perception and explanation. The intimacy of that encounter carries with it the danger of dulling the edge of the historian’s moral judgment — and that kind of judgment is what makes historical inquiry worthwhile, something more than a mere jumble of events and dates.”

Guezlo brings out the point, often overlooked, that Lee believed that slavery was “a moral and political evil in any country,” but that he also believed, as did others, that blacks were better off as slaves than living in Africa. Perhaps that is how many slave owners soothed their consciences. Continue reading