Category Archives: Education – Early Childhood

Virginia Local Ability-to-Pay Calculation and State Contributions to Public Schools — Some Surprises

by James C. Sherlock

Some things are very important that the average citizen knows little to nothing about.

For example, a complex state computation, the Composite Index of Local Ability to Pay, determines how much state money per student goes to your school district to maintain an overall state ratio of 55% state and 45% local.

The lower your district composite index of ability to pay, the more money per student your district gets.

You will find some big surprises in the list of school division indexes, or at least I did.

My home division of Virginia Beach did not make the top 20 highest indexes, while the City of Richmond did. Fredericksburg is a top-20 division. Stafford County is in the lower middle group. Bath County has the third highest index out of 133. Continue reading

Some Northern Virginia Schools Get Failing Grades on Black Student Literacy and Numeracy

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane

by James C. Sherlock

We spend a lot of time here documenting the raging debates at Northern Virginia school board meetings over Critical Race Theory in schools. Raging is the right word.  

Yet those same school systems fail to educate the kids they claim to care about most.

Consider what we see from VDOE and them instead:

  • the teacher strike threats;
  • the elimination of competitive tests for magnet schools and AP courses;
  • the ongoing attempt to recall Loudoun school board members;
  • the lawsuits;
  • the “too many Asians” idiocy of the Secretary of Education and the new rules that will push most high achieving Asian American students out of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in the name of “equity”;
  • the Virginia Board of Education taking over as the regulator for child care, writing a 24-page draft regulation on transgender students and working every day to write regulations to create little social activists starting at birth.

It is past time for Northern Virginia school systems and VDOE to get to work doing something a little more basic.  

I have a thought. Start by teaching the far too many Black students who, pre-COVID, had failed to achieve literacy and numeracy at or even near grade level.  

Hope I’m not out of line. Continue reading

School Closings Negatively Affect Female Employment

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

by D.J. Rippert

Mom at home. An article from The Center Square summarizes a number of studies relating COVID-19, school policies during the pandemic, and the number of women in the workforce. A study by the journal “Gender & Society” characterized the matter as a “tidal wave of women” leaving the workforce in 2020. Center Square notes that, “Researchers found that women primarily left the workforce (in addition to layoffs and job closures) to help educate their children when schools reverted to virtual learning and children were no longer physically at school.” Statistics indicate that the employment gap between mothers and fathers was less in states where the schools stayed open for in-person instruction, either full-time or part-time. As the article states, “But the gap grew by an average of 5% in states where only virtual learning was offered, such as in California, Delaware and Virginia.” Continue reading

VDOE Does Define Educational Equity as Equal Outcomes

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane

by James C. Sherlock

An African American Superintendent’s Advisory Council (AASAC) was formed by the Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2020.

It is charged “to develop policy recommendations to advance African American students’ academic success and social emotional well being to inform VDOE priorities and strategies”.

It has proven extremely influential.

I have yet to find an AASAC recommendation that has not been adopted by the Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) and VDOE in drafting and approving regulations and standards.

Given that track record, I will present below the recommendations presented by AASAC on March 17, 2021, to the Virginia Board of Education’s (VBOE) Special Committee to Review the Standards of Accreditation.

These actual recommendations will perhaps quell some of the controversy on this site about what the left intends for Virginia schools. Continue reading

Marx, White Moral Panic and a White Liberal’s Rosary

Derrick Bell, the father of Critical Race Theory

by James C. Sherlock

A couple of days ago Dick Sizemore-Hall published CRT and Virginia History here.

Dick is an excellent essayist. That one was the exception that proves the rule.

He indicated early in the more-than-1,500 word piece that he would discuss “the legitimacy of this antagonism regarding CRT.” I actually looked forward to hearing his point of view on that subject.

But he never got around to it.

He may actually have forgotten that was what he set out to do. Instead he recited the history of racism in Virginia from the perspective of a white man from Richmond.

He named me several times. Yet he ignored my well-documented position that CRT-driven educational policies threaten the futures of young black students. He wrote instead that people like me either ignore or deny the history of racism.

That was, of course, a classic straw man fallacy. This one has the singular disadvantages of being false and he has ample reason to know it. Continue reading

VDOE’s Radical Approach to SEL Far Exceeds Its Legislative Mandate

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane

by James C. Sherlock

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane is running into fierce public resistance to draft SEL regulations. See the 409 comments so far.  They overwhelmingly oppose what he has offered as a draft SEL instruction in his April 23 memo.

The basic problem is apparent.

The Board of Education/VDOE are citing laws for authority in regulation writing that do not authorize the regulations they publish.

The 2016 Republican-controlled General Assembly approved House Bill 895 and Senate Bill 336, now Code of Virginia § 22.1-253.13:4. Standard 4. Student achievement and graduation requirements subsection D.:

The graduation requirements established by the Board of Education pursuant to the provisions of subdivisions D 1, 2, and 3 shall apply to each student who enrolls in high school as (i) a freshman after July 1, 2018; (ii) a sophomore after July 1, 2019; (iii) a junior after July 1, 2020; or (iv) a senior after July 1, 2021) In establishing graduation requirements, the Board shall:

1. Develop and implement, in consultation with stakeholders representing elementary and secondary education, higher education, and business and industry in the Commonwealth and including parents, policymakers, and community leaders in the Commonwealth, a Profile of a Virginia Graduate that identifies the knowledge and skills that students should attain during high school in order to be successful contributors to the economy of the Commonwealth, giving due consideration to critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship.

Continue reading

VDOE to Take Over Child Care

by James C. Sherlock

We have joined in a lot of discussions about the Board of Education and the Virginia Department of Education.

I think it time that readers contemplate the vastly expanded role of both that happens on July 1 of this year.

From that date, the Board of Education will be setting policy and the VDOE will exercise oversight over all early childhood care and education programs. Continue reading

Fall Elections Threaten Northam’s Radical Education Team

Qarni

by James C. Sherlock

Politics is a contact sport, and the two people in the Northam administration most likely to be blindsided are Secretary of Education Atif Qarni and Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane.

I say blindsided — they won’t see it coming — because the hits will come from their own team. This isn’t about whether a reader thinks they have earned it or not. It is about politics.

Lane

I think it likely that Glenn Youngkin will be the Republican nominee for Governor and Jason Miyares the Republican pick for Attorney General.

If so, three things are likely to happen. First, both races will be competitive. Second, voters will turn out in droves in protest of the education policies of the Northam administration. Finally, If Terry McAuliffe, the presumptive Democratic nominee, feels threatened, he will flush Qarni and Lane one way or the other.

They should freshen up their resumes. Continue reading

Virginia Board of Education – In Loco Parentis and Headed to Court

Mark Herring

by James C. Sherlock

Is your child yours or does he or she belong body and soul to the state in the person of the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE)?   

That is a question that is not only reasonable, but absolutely necessary after reading its new transgender student regulation. That regulation represents a straight-up, in-your-face denial of parental rights.

The quasi-religious fervor with which the radical left now pushes children to “find” their transgender selves and the state to offer “support” in that decision to very young children is as disturbing as anything in American life. They consider that gender identity is an innate characteristic that most children “declare” by age five to six. They further believe the state should take it from there to protect them from their parents.

VDOE just released what will prove a fiercely controversial Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools pursuant to House Bill 145 and Senate Bill 161 enacted by the 2020 Virginia General Assembly. Under that 2020 law, the “policies” just released are mandatory for school boards, thus granted the status of a regulation.  

The whole conceit that the government – read the radical progressive left who wrote this regulation for VDOE – knows best what is right for your children is on full display in the document. It presumes to enforce government decisions on the sexuality of very young children both hidden from and against the wishes of the parents.   Continue reading

Board of Education Changes to Virginia Teacher Evaluation Guidelines Are an Embarrassment

UVa Ed School

by James C. Sherlock

Education schools have a lot to be proud of, primarily their production of teachers.

They also have a lot to answer for, including most of what passes for research and every bit of their practice of constantly changing the language of education to cover the lack of new and contributory ideas. Education schools regularly pass new terminology for old ideas off as new research.

I give you as exhibit A the new Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Teachers, revisions to existing standards approved a couple of weeks ago by the Virginia Board of Education. Go here, download Item H. and take a look at the revisions. At least scan it. You will get the idea.

I removed from my copy of that working document the changes that deleted previous language and was left with 117 pages of guidelines for evaluating each teacher. Up from 75 pages in its predecessor.

If Board members had any sense of the absurd in their own work, or the real world in which teachers teach and principals evaluate, they would not have approved it. It is a profound embarrassment. Continue reading

In 2019, 34% of Virginia’s Black 4th graders Could Not Read – Mississippi Offers Hope


by James C. Sherlock

Since 2013, Mississippi has made unprecedented, best-in-the-nation improvement in the academic achievements of its children starting as measured in nationwide testing. The improvements were especially pronounced in 4th graders who benefited directly from its 2013 literacy law.

I have done a deep dive into those results and traced them back to public policy.  There are actionable lessons for Virginia school districts seeking improvements in the literacy of their students. Mississippi has far better school literacy laws, and a markedly better Board of Education and education strategic plan than Virginia.  

Fundamentally, Virginia is going in a different direction than Mississippi in terms of child academic achievement because the Governor, the General Assembly and Board of Education want it that way. It is simultaneously going in a different direction in measures of child academic achievement. 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