Category Archives: Demographics

Reform K-12 Education to Increase Diversity in Virginia’s Colleges — and in Life

by James C. Sherlock

Much is appropriately made of the relative lack of diversity in Virginia’s state-supported colleges and universities. Some trace that exclusively to racial discrimination. My research indicates it may also reflect the educational disadvantages of being poor.  

Here I will offer a path to begin to fix both.

I have researched and written a good bit about the wide variations in K-12 student SOL pass rates among Virginia’s poorest school districts. See Rev 1 Reading and Math Virginia 2018-2019 SOL results by State and Division by Subject by Subgroup.

Some students, parents and school districts in Virginia’s poorest communities exhibit extraordinary success in those standardized tests across all races and among economically disadvantaged students. That success is measured not against other poor districts, but among districts statewide.  

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Place, Class and Race and K-12 Educational Success in Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

In order to better understand the contributions of place, class and race on K-12 academic achievement in Virginia, I did a great deal of research over a period of several days and from it constructed a spreadsheet, Reading and Math Virginia 2018-2019 SOL results by State and Division by Subject by Subgroup.

I have found the results very informative, even stunning. If you think you understand Virginia at this level of granularity, you may be surprised.

My experiment (and the spreadsheet) is anchored by the bottom quartile of 133 Virginia counties and cities as ranked by health outcomes by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for 2020. Poor health outcomes not only represent a major obstacle for academic achievement, but are an excellent proxy for the relative poverty of that bottom quartile.

I recorded English Reading and Mathematics 2018-2019 SOL results (Virginia Department of Education) among the public school students in each locality. Results are broken out by race, economic disadvantage, English Learners, gender and students with disabilities.

I then listed for comparison the identical SOL results for Fairfax County, Arlington County, Loudon County and Falls Church City, unsurprisingly the top four Virginia localities in health outcomes.

Finally, I compiled 2017 demographic information (U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Commerce) for three of these disadvantaged counties that had outstanding SOL scores. You will I think be astonished at some of those data standing alone, much less when put in context of the results in their public schools. Continue reading

More Evidence Demolishing the Oppression Narrative

by James A. Bacon

Hamilton Lombard has posted some fascinating data on the University of Virginia Demographic Research blog, Stat Chat, that illuminates the income gap between whites and blacks. For Lombard’s spin on the data he presents, I suggest that you read his commentary here. It’s different from my take. I wouldn’t say that his interpretation and mine are in conflict, but I don’t want to imply that he would necessarily agree what I’m writing here.

The black-white income gap. The first point worth noting is that between 1950 and 1970 (inside the magenta circle in the chart above), when blacks’ economic opportunities were curtailed by segregated institutions, the gap between black and white incomes narrowed significantly. In the 50 years since then, the income gap between blacks and non-blacks has not budged.

“The fact that the income gap for Black Virginians has not changed considerably since 1970 is particularly notable,” writes Lombard, “because the intention of the Civil Rights Era reforms and the Great Society programs that have existed since the late 1960s are in large part to help close the income gap.” Continue reading

New Regions Won’t Fix Ignoring the Obvious

by Carol J. Bova

Governor Ralph Northam opened his July 14 press conference with statements on the increase in cases of the COVID-19 virus in Virginia. “We have not seen the spikes that some other states are now seeing, but we’re seeing some troubling numbers and an increase in cases largely out of the Hampton Roads area.”

He talked about the statewide positivity rate for COVID-19 testing, using graphs for five regional Health Districts and reviewed the seven-day average for each: Northern region, 6.7%, Southwest region 4.8%, Northwest region 5.9%, and Central region 6.6%. He then called out the Eastern region for a rate of 10.1%.

There are at least two serious problems with his presentation.

The regions cover too wide a geographical area to address as a single community, and each varies in population, density, culture, and composition. Continue reading

The Shocking Number of Hispanic COVID-19 Deaths for Ages 35 to 64

by Carol J. Bova

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) death certificate reports are the one reliable indicator of the impact of Covid-19 on the various population groups in Virginia. The CDC racial/ethnic breakdown from 2/1/20 to 7/4/20 of all deaths from COVID-19 alone, together with COVID-19 and pneumonia, shows Virginia Hispanics accounted for 12.6% of all COVID-19 deaths. That does not appear to be far out of line with a 10% Hispanic population in the Commonwealth in 2018, especially when allowing for an unknown number of undocumented Hispanic persons plus Hispanic population increases since then.

What is shockingly out of line is the CDC Virginia death certificate numbers show 42.7% of Hispanic COVID-19 deaths within the 35- to 64-year-old age bracket, as shown in the chart above.

Why has this happened? Are comorbidities like diabetes, auto-immune conditions or obesity responsible? Continue reading

Inequity Accounting for Hispanic COVID-19 Cases

by Carol J. Bova

Last week Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, wrote a letter to Governor Ralph Northam decrying the high rate of COVID-19 infection in Virginia’s Hispanic population. She blamed “longstanding and systemic factors, such as disparate access to information, testing, and treatment.” Jim Bacon responded that Virginia Department of Health (VDH) data did not support Foy’s assertion. But even Bacon took the VDH numbers as an accurate reflection of reality. In truth, VDH “confirmed cases” numbers, which suggest that Hispanics account for 43% of all COVID-19 cases in which race/ethnicity have been identified, are not reliable.

Originally, VDH number crunchers broke down confirmed cases as Black, White, Other, and Unknown. In mid-June they created Latino as a new demographic category, describing it as “Individuals of any race who identify as ‘Hispanic or Latino.’” To create the Latino category, VDH moved 11.3 percentage points from the White cases and 23.6 percentage points from Other and Unknown Race cases. The result: Hispanics accounted for 33.9% of all cases.

Ignoring 16,500 cases in the Unknown category increases the apparent proportion of Black and Latino cases and provides talking points for Del. Foy and the Governor that Latinos have 43% of all cases whose ethnicity was identified.

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The Big Lie of Unequal Funding

by James A. Bacon

The Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) has unanimously adopted a statement regarding its commitment to provide equal access to a high-quality public education.

“Systemic racism and discrimination still exist in public education, and too often, a student’s skin color or socioeconomic status predicts the quality of their educational opportunities,” says the statement. The VBOE goes on to attribute the educational achievement gap between whites and “people of color” to unequal funding.

The current system of funding for our schools, codified as the Standards of Quality, has not resulted in meaningful changes in educational outcomes. In fact, in combined effect with the previously long-standing Standards of Accreditation, segregation in our schools has increased. We have seen resources, in terms of funding and personnel, migrate to schools and localities that disproportionately served fewer students of color. The result has been a recognized achievement gap that continues to persist.

There is one big problem with this statement. There is no meaningful black-white funding gap in Virginia. The VBOE provides no statistics whatsoever to back up its statement. Repetition of a falsehood does not make it true. Here are the average annual per-pupil expenditures for school operations across the state broken down by race/ethnicity:

From a statewide perspective, there is a funding gap in Virginia, but it’s between Asians and Hispanics on the one hand and blacks and whites on the other. If the BOE had restricted its claim to the existence of a white/black funding gap, not a gap between whites and “people of color,” it would have been on firmer ground, although that gap is barely more than one-tenth of one percent. Good luck trying to explain the educational achievement gap (which is very real) on a one-tenth of one percent difference in spending. Continue reading

BR’s COVID-19 Parallel Universe

By Peter Galuszka

Almost every morning, I wake up a little before dawn, make coffee, let the dog out and feed her and start reading the news.

I take The Washington Post in print along with The New York Times, Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Virginian-Pilot, NBC News, various television stations and, of course, Bacon’s Rebellion online.

Later in the morning, I check out Blue Virginia, Virginia Mercury and RVA.

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, every morning I step into two different universes.

One gives me the global and national view that jumps right in and explains where we are with the virus and who and what are at risk.

The other view, that of Bacon’s Rebellion, mostly paints a very different picture. This view insists that the pandemic is exaggerated and overrated, needless regulations are being enacted by a dictatorial governor, our school system and housing trends are at risk and we should open everything up right now. Continue reading

The Systemic Racism of Monument Avenue

By Peter Galuszka

Richmond’s grand Monument Avenue, a double lane, tree lined thoroughfare, has been the epicenter of the Black Lives Matter campaign that has focused on the statues of several Confederate figures one the road, including Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis.

All are up for removal, but the same foot-dragging that has for years protected the statues that some consider racist is at work today. Protestors have torn down Davis and have defaced the rest. On Sunday night, they nearly ripped down the Stuart statue as two city council members urged that it be removed on an emergency basis.

Lee’s statue has been ordered down by Gov. Ralph Northam, but the effort has been tied up in lawsuits by several property owners. One claims either that the original deed that gave the state the site for Lee included language that it could not be removed. Other plaintiffs, most anonymous,  claim that removing the statues would hurt their property values and their special tax status.

If anything smacks of white privilege and entitlement, this is it. But for more perspective, this article in The Atlantic neatly sums up the history behind the statues and the Avenue, noting that the issue has everything to do with rewriting Richmond’s history and making a marketing play to sell expensive and exclusive real estate decades after the Confederacy was suppressed. Continue reading

“Systemic Racism?” Damned Right!

By Peter Galuszka

There has been much debate on this blog regarding whether there is “systemic racism” in Virginia and the rest of the country.

It’s a crucial question in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed and handcuffed African American who was killed on video by a white Minneapolis police officer two weeks ago. The killing sparked nationwide demonstrations, some rioting and a big rethink of race relations.

Regarding is “system racism,” my answer in a resounding “yes” although I agree there has been significant progress in race relations since the since the 1960s.

A few examples:

  • Virginia was the embarkation point for American’s first slaves.
  • Slavery was a key social, economic and political institution for several hundred years.
  • The Civil War was fought over slavery. Most battles were in Virginia.
  • The state embraced Jim Crow laws and kept them for years. These made it crimes for people of different races to go to school together, go on public transit together, sit together in restaurants, get married and so on.
  • There were plenty of lynchings in Virginia. Many went unpunished.

Continue reading

Federal Action Should Clarify COVID-19 Racial Impact

by Carol J. Bova

Discussion of the percentage of black COVID-19 hospitalized patients in Virginia is based on the known racial identification of all COVID-19 cases. The breakdown of all cases shows this is a false narrative. We don’t know what the true racial percentages are because currently 32% of all COVID-19 cases have no racial identification.

From here forward, that problem should be reduced by new federal guidance announced on June 4 requiring labs to report demographic data like race, ethnicity, age, and sex.

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidance that specifies what additional data must be reported to HHS by laboratories along with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) test results. The Guidance standardizes reporting to ensure that public health officials have access to comprehensive and nearly real-time data to inform decision making in their response to COVID-19. As the country begins to reopen, access to clear and accurate data is essential to communities and leadership for making decisions critical to a phased reopening.

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The Real Danger with ANTIFA

By Peter Galuszka

Get ready. The names of all kinds of leftist organizations are going to be kicked around as the masterminds behind violent, cop-beating looters, especially the so-called ANTIFA movement in Virginia and across the country..

But what is reality? I don’t have clear answers but I have some ideas to share since I have been dealing with activist groups since I was in high school in the late 1960s. I hope they help this blog’s discussion.

First, there’s plenty of research available about ANTIFA and there are already plenty of reports about it. It is not a single group but a very loose collection of autonomous activist groups, most of which do not advocate violence. For reference, see yesterday’s Daily Beast piece with the blunt headline, “Trump’s ‘ANTIFA Threat Is Total Bullshit – And Totally Dangerous.”

That article and plenty of others note that ANTIFA, or whatever it is, has no clear chain of command and uses ultra-fast social media to alert other activists about rallies and protests but has no control over them. If you are thinking about the tightly-controlled and secretive Communist cells of the past century, you are not getting it. Continue reading

Construction: Virginia’s Quiet, Strong Man

Scene from Micron’s $3 billion construction project in Manassas. Photo credit: Inside NoVa

By Peter Galuszka

For all the complaints about the COVID-19 pandemic in Virginia – the shut-down restaurants and (temporarily) closed beaches – one industry has been working steadily and quietly all along – the state’s construction sector.

Builders haven’t missed much of a beat since the “state at home” orders started going out a couple of months ago.

In Pentagon City, works still progresses on the two, 22-story towers for Amazon’s new eastern headquarters. In suburban Chesterfield County near Richmond, workers toil adding new drain pipes and four-laning once- rural roads. Four-story apartments overlooking Swift Creek Reservoir are taking shape for the over-55 crowd.

At a loud and garish protest next to the State Capitol against Gov. Ralph Norham’s work-stoppage plans last month, Mark Carter, a contractor from Hanover County, made his views known. “We‘re still working,” he told me. “I’m not for Trump and I’m not a Democrat. People need to work.”

In Virginia, some are. After all, New York state and Boston stopped construction work due to the pandemic. Continue reading

Flight from New York

Source: New York Times. Click for larger image.

“New York is a great place to live, but I wouldn’t want to ride out a deadly viral epidemic there.” That pretty much sums up the attitude of tens of thousands of Gothamites — mostly of the wealthier sort — who have fled the city during the onset of the COVID-19 tribulations. In March, the U.S. Post Office received 56,000 mail-forwarding requests from New York City, more than double the monthly average. In April the number of requests reached 81,000, reports the New York Times

More than 60% of the forwarding requests were for destinations outside the city. Many people fled to nearby areas in Long Island, New Jersey and upstate New York. Otherwise, the Washington metropolitan area was the third most popular out-of-region destination, following the Miami and Philadelphia metros.

No speculation from the NYT regarding how many might have carried the coronavirus with them — although it may not be total coincidence that the Washington metro has the highest incidence per capita of COVID-19 infection in Virginia.

— JAB

Uh, Oh…

by Dean Wortmier

Because the panacea bonfire of the “New Abbott Labs Test” is being stoked, I have been forced to revive some brain cells that have been comfortably soaking up rum for the past 8 years.

How much help is testing for CoV2 going to be in deciding to ‘Open Up’ Virginia?

Let’s use Abbott’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) application[1] for our Gold Standard.

From the tests that Abbott submitted to get the EUA, the 95% confidence interval for the Probability of Detection, Pd, of the virus is (94.0, 100), greater than 94 but less than 100.  Moreover, the document tells us that the 95% confidence interval for the Probability of a False Alarm, Pfa, is (0, 11).

Pretty impressive, well, impressive enough to secure a EUA to soak up $Billions of taxpayer money, but is really going to help with decisions to end the quarantine measures for Virginia? (Did you see how I kept it relevant to Bacon’s Rebllion’s blog?) Remember, we’re making an executive decision that could cost granny her life. Continue reading