Category Archives: Education (higher ed)

Graduates. And Not.

by John Butcher

The U.S. Department of Education requires every state to annually report high school graduation rates. Those data, along with students’ performances on state assessments in subjects such as mathematics, English, and science, along with other measures, are also used to determine annual accreditation ratings.

The VDOE’s website includes the Superintendent’s Annual Report where one can find a wealth of information at the state, division, and school levels.

At first glance, the spreadsheet in Table 5, Diploma Graduates and Completers, looks to be a source of interesting graduation data. The 2022 report gives the diploma counts for 2022 and the fall memberships for 2019. However, calculating the federal diploma rates from those data shows a 203.6% rate for Radford and 151.8% for Hopewell.
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Lab School Process Underway; Youngkin Oblivious to Overfunding

Stephen Cummings, Va. Secretary of Finance

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Governor Youngkin’s Lab School initiative is off to a fairly good start, although it is probably not progressing as quickly as he thought or hoped it would.

According to the Department of Education (DOE), the department has received two applications for the establishment of a lab school— from James Madison University and Southside Community College. In addition, it has received applications from 12 institutions for planning grants for lab schools.  They are:

  • University of Mary Washington
  • Mountain Gateway Community College
  • Old Dominion University
  • George Mason University
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • University of Lynchburg
  • Eastern Shore Community College
  • New College Institute
  • University of Virginia
  • Germanna Community College
  • Emory and Henry College
  • Virginia State University

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Bacon Bits: More Mad-As-Hell Stories

Ditch the name, keep the money. The University of Richmond recently removed the name of T.C. Williams from its law school because he owned slaves, even though, his descendants say, he contributed to the demise of slavery. Now the same descendants are arguing that the university should refund the money Williams donated to the institution … plus interest. “If suddenly his name is not good enough for the University, then isn’t the proper ethical and indeed virtuous action to return the benefactor’s money with interest? At a 6% compounded interest over 132 years, T.C. Williams’ gift to the law school alone is now valued at over $51 million,” Williams’ great-great grandson Rob Smith told The College Fix. Funny thing about that: long-ago university benefactors may be dirty, but their money never is.

Speaking of colleges and money… It’s all-out war between dissident alumni of the Virginia Military Institute and the VMI Alumni Agencies. The establishment alumni agency wants to raise $19.74 million from the 50th reunion class. Some members are saying, “Hell no, we won’t go.” In fact, they’re urging classmates to take what they would have given the VMI alumni association and contribute it to an alternative group, The Cadet Foundation. Alumni associations everywhere, beware; do not write off your older, conservative alumni. They can raise hell and make your lives miserable. You can win the battles and still lose the war.

Sage’s law. Delegate Dave LaRock has submitted a bill, HB 2432, that would require school officials to inform parents if their child self-identifies as transgender at school. The Family Foundation has dubbed it “Sage’s Law,” in honor of a 15-year-old girl who was adopted by her grandmother because her parents were unfit, identified as transgender at Appomattox High School, ran away, and got sucked into a sex trafficking ring. You can read the horrifying details of her horrific story in The Federalist. What happened to her is unforgivable. Continue reading

Hokies, Join the Resistance!

From Campus Reform:

Virginia Tech prof accuses student of spreading misinformation, threatens to delete discussion board posts

A pro-life student at Virginia Tech was publicly accused of spreading misinformation by her professor after submitting a discussion board assignment expressing pro-life views.

After being admonished publicly, student Alyssa Jones met with her professor and recorded the conversation. “I hadn’t really been thinking the way you want me to I guess,” she said. “I didn’t say anything that was factually incorrect in my discussion post, and I’m just a little bit confused as to why you told the class that I was spreading misinformation.”

Bacon’s bottom line: Push back. Document everything. And take your case public. Students, there are people who will help you,

By the way, Hokie alumni, where the heck are you? You’ve got the most politically conservative (or least “progressive”) students among the major Virginia universities. Why aren’t you standing up for them? Join the University of Virginia, Virginia Military Institute, James Madison University, and Washington & Lee in forming an alumni resistance group. We’re happy to help. Contact me at jabacon@thejeffersoncouncil.com.

— JAB

Graduating Snowflakes into the Workforce

by James A. Bacon

More than half (51%) of young professionals in the United States report emotional or mental-health issues, according to a survey just released by the Mary Christie Institute, American Association of Colleges and Universities, and allied organizations.

Sixty-eight percent of men reported good or excellent mental health compared to 45% for women. Blacks and Asians reported better mental health than Whites and Hispanics (60% and 63% respectively compared to 52% and 49%).

The findings are intriguing on a number of grounds. First, it reinforces my view that mental health is, to some degree, a social construct that varies by racial and ethnic sub-culture. Under the systemic-racism paradigm prevalent today, one would expect young Black professionals to report the worst mental health because, as many “studies” have contended, systemic racism afflicts Blacks with unremitting stress. But, according to this study, young Black professionals are handling the stress of the workplace better on average than their White peers. (Blacks were less likely, however, to feel a part of their workplace community.) Continue reading

Senate Subcommittee Nixes DEI Transparency

by James A. Bacon

A General Assembly senate subcommittee has voted down a bill that would require public Virginia colleges and universities to report the number and salaries of employees in the field of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, had sponsored the bill, SB 1197, which also called for disclosure of sums spent on lobbying and for the recording and online posting of Board of Visitors board and committee meetings.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage of the subcommittee meeting reported little discussion. The closest thing to an explanation for defeating the transparency measure came from Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City. According to reporter Eric Kolenich:

Petersen questioned why colleges should be required to publish this information, which is already publicly available. Petersen called the bill “overly confrontational.”

That’s about as lame as it gets.

First point: no, actually, the information is not already publicly available — not readily. Continue reading

Dominion Energy Scholarships Define “Communities” by Race

By Carol J. Bova

Dominion Energy is offering 60 undergraduate Equitable Education Scholarships totaling $500,000 for “students from historically underrepresented communities.”

The rules exclude White students (unless they identify as Hispanic), no matter what “community” they’re from, because to be eligible, applicants must:

— Self-identify as Black or African American; Hispanic or Latino; American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; or Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander with higher education expenses;

— Be high school seniors or graduates or current college undergraduates residing in Connecticut, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Idaho, Wyoming, or Utah, with plans to enroll full-time at an accredited two- or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school for the entire upcoming academic year.

The press release quotes Robert M. Blue, Dominion Energy’s president and chief executive officer, who said: “We have already seen a tremendous return on investment supporting students obtaining higher education. Dominion Energy remains committed to investing in students’ access to higher education, strengthening our communities and future generations, and building a sustainable workforce.”

Scholarship America, a nonprofit specializing in managing scholarship and tuition assistance programs, says it “will support Dominion Energy in the selection of finalists.” Scholarship America says: Continue reading

What Happened to All Those Promises to Defend Virginia’s Heritage?

by Donald Smith

Many Bacon’s Rebellion readers — me included — worry that Virginia’s history is being erased and scourged and its heroes demeaned. The November 2021 state elections gave us cause for cheer. During his campaign, Glenn Youngkin indicated that he would stand up to the “Wokerati” working their way through the Old Dominion’s institutions. On November 14, we got more good news: Delegate Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, would be the new Speaker of the House of Delegates. “Todd Gilbert ready to take on powerful House Speaker job,” was the headline of Charles Paulin’s Northern Virginia Daily article on December 30.

“As Speaker,” wrote Paulin, “Gilbert will be responsible for overseeing the business of the House, including deciding which bills are called to the floor for a vote and appointing committee chairs.”

Virginia heritage activists had good reason to cheer Gilbert’s speakership. In 2020, when the sitting Speaker of the House pulled statues and busts of Confederate leaders out of the state Capitol building, Gilbert didn’t ignore it. He pushed back. Mocking the claims of the then-speaker, Eileen Filler-Corn, that she wanted to “truly tell the commonwealth’s whole history,” Gilbert pointed out that the state Capitol building had also been the seat of the Confederate government — so shouldn’t we now raze it to the ground?

When the Northam administration and activists pressured Virginia Military Institute’s Superintendent Binford Peay into quickly resigning over sensational charges of systemic racism at VMI,” Gilbert reacted harshly:

When Governor Northam admitted to wearing blackface and appearing in a racially offensive photograph, he sought the grace of the public’s forgiveness. If polling is to be believed, the public has largely extended that grace to him. Now the Virginia Military Institute stands accused of accommodating racist incidents. It’s a shame that Governor Northam couldn’t extend the same amount of grace that he’s been afforded with his own past, at least until we know all the facts.

Another reason for cheer was that Gilbert appeared to be a “Somewhere,” instead of an “Anywhere.” British author David Gilbert coined the terms to differentiate between people who have close ties to a region or culture, versus people who view their current home as simply an address (perhaps temporary) of convenience. Gilbert didn’t represent Fairfax or Loudon or any of the other Northern Virginia counties now dominated by people new to Virginia. His 15th District covers Page and Shenandoah Counties — two Shenandoah Valley counties with many residents whose Virginia ties go back to at least the Civil War. Those people are “Somewheres,” in other words. Continue reading

The Alumni Rebellion Spreads to JMU

by James A. Bacon

A group of James Madison University alumni has organized a new group, the Madison Cabinet for Free Speech and Accountability, to promote “freedom of  expression, intellectual diversity, and academic freedom on campus.”

The JMU group marks the fourth university in Virginia to organize in protest of the takeover of an institution by woke administrations and campus cultures. The others include The Jefferson Council (at the University of Virginia), The General’s Redoubt (at Washington & Lee), and The Spirit of VMI PAC. Virginia can claim more dissident alumni groups than any other state.

In the spirit of James Madison, the nation’s fourth president and primary author of the Constitution, the organization has two broad goals: (1) to maximize transparency, open government, and accountability from the university Board of Visitors and executive leadership; and (2) to increase tolerance, academic freedom and diversity of expression from and among students, faculty, staff and university leadership. Continue reading

Anti-Capitalism Packaged as Antiracism Teaches Failure in Virginia Schools

Karl Marx

by James C. Sherlock

I have spent the last 15 years or so studying and reporting on the decline of scholarship and the rise of censorship at the University of Virginia and other state institutions of “higher learning.”

The enforced closing of minds has been targeted to resurrect an economic system that failed everywhere in the 20th century and cannot work in the 21st.

The decline has been led by UVa’s School of Education and Human Development not only at the University but also, more harmfully, in the policies and pedagogy developed for teaching in the public schools. That school, blind to redundancy, recently appointed an Associate Dean for DEI.

UVa’s School of Education, unfortunately close to Richmond, has dominated the councils of the Virginia Department of Education even under Republican administrations. But it most tragically ran free under Ralph Northam and his two worst appointees, Secretary of Education Atif Qarni and Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane.

Tragically, their tenures overlapped with complete domination by Democrats of the General Assembly and the COVID shutdowns.

The public schools, many operated under school boards in political agreement with the progressive left, will be trying to recover from those multiple simultaneous catastrophes for decades. Many will not recover if they remain as currently configured.

Some schools won’t last long as parents seek choices elsewhere. If true choices are offered that the poor can afford, entire divisions will collapse. Which is why, because too many school divisions are run for the benefit of the adults in the system, they will oppose choices.

Regardless, the steep decline in production of new teachers and the fleeing from chaos of experienced teachers, including those who have not yet been attacked in their classrooms, continues.

That is a classic death spiral. Continue reading

Freitas Introduces Higher-Ed Transparency Bill

Delegate Nick Freitas

by James A. Bacon

Delegate Nicholas J. Freitas, R-Culpeper, has introduced a bill, HB 1800, that would bring much needed transparency to the governance of Virginia’s public higher-ed institutions. The bill was cited in a list of priority legislation backed by Attorney General Jason Miyares.

The bill contains several elements:

  • Governing boards of public colleges and universities must report the number and salaries of diversity officers and government-relations officers employed by their institutions;
  • Governing boards must report the total value of contracts with outside individuals engaged in lobbying on the institution’s behalf;
  • Boards must record videos of their meetings and post them prominently on their websites on a timely basis;
  • Boards must hold public meetings to solicit public input before approving the renewal of a university’s chief executive officer;
  • Boards must post an annual report on university-affiliated foundations that detail expenditures on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, lobbying, and CEO compensation.

One can only surmise what incidents gave rise to the Freitas bill. However, some informed speculation is in order.

With no public input the University of Virginia Board of Visitors approved an extension of UVa President Jim Ryan’s contract years before it was due to expire. The Freitas bill would have required a public hearing. Continue reading

UVa Grade Inflation Has Accelerated Since 2018

Source: University of Virginia Institutional Research and Analysis

In the spring of 1992, the cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of University of Virginia undergraduate students was 3.1, according to data maintained by the office of Institutional Research and Analysis. By 2021, the average GPA had soared to 3.6.

Grade inflation is a national phenomenon in U.S. higher education, so there may be nothing unusual about the long-term trend at UVa.

What does stand out in the chart is how grade inflation has accelerated in the past few years. The dot in the graph represents 2018, the year Jim Ryan became president. The average GPA that year was 3.4. Within three years, it shot up to 3.6. Viewing the UVa data in isolation, however, cannot tell us whether that incipient hockey stick is unique to the University or common to higher-ed nationally.

An average of 3.6 implies that at least 60% of all grades are As — and that assumes that the rest are Bs. If we assume that students occasionally are assigned Cs or Ds, the percentage of As is likely even higher. It would be interesting to see the grade distributions. Unfortunately, UVa does not provide that information. Still, based on the data made public, one must wonder, does anyone ever receive a failing grade anymore? Continue reading

The Hidden Costs of DEI

by James A. Bacon

According to a new report by the Virginia Association of Scholars, the University of Virginia in 2021 employed 77 people as part of the a vast and growing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) bureaucracy at a cost of nearly $7 million a year. Many questions arise from this revelation. What do all these people do? What are their goals? Are they improving the university climate? What is the effect of DEI on freedom of speech, inquiry and expression?

We will address these questions in future posts. For now, we want to make it clear that the $7 million cost is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The authors of the VAS study make it clear that they are counting only positions that are explicitly tied to DEI-related programs, and it counts only salaries. Not benefits. Not office overhead. Not outside consultants, speakers, or events. And perhaps most importantly, not the impact on faculty productivity.

The fixation on DEI suffuses every aspect of university life. Not only does the university administration have a DEI staff, not only do each of its 13 schools and colleges have DEI staffs, but the DEI ethic permeates down to the departmental level as reflected in planning sessions, training programs, departmental-level reading groups, the hiring of new employees, and the granting of pay raises, promotions, and tenure decision-making.

An extraordinary amount of activity at UVa is devoted to DEI, and that activity sucks faculty, students, and non-DEI staff into the vortex. Continue reading

UVa’s DEI Bureaucracy: the Details

Here is the breakdown of DEI positions and salaries at the University of Virginia identified in the Virginia Association of Scholars report, “Should Virginians
Pay for University ‘Diversity’ Leftism?”

In 2020, UVa spent more money than any other public Virginia university on DEI staff and salaries. In 2021, UVa doubled the number of administrators and increased spending on salaries by 66%.

These numbers reflect only a fraction of the total administrative costs imposed by the DEI bureaucracy. They do not include employee benefits, office space, travel & entertainment, engagement of outside consultants and speakers, or DEI-related tasks performed by staff and faculty with other job responsibilities.

— JAB

UVa DEI Positions in 2020

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$15 Million+ and Growing Fast

The Jefferson Council released the following press release at 1:00 p.m. today.

The cost of Virginia’s higher-ed DEI bureaucracy is spinning out of control.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., January 6, 2023 – Virginia’s 15 public four-year universities paid its Diversity, Equity & Inclusion administrators more than $15 million in salaries in 2020, according to a new report, “Should Virginians Pay for University ‘Diversity’ Leftism?

And DEI spending exploded the following year, 2021, at the two universities for which data are available: 119% at James Madison University and 66% at the University of Virginia. So found the report, which was published by the Virginia Association of Scholars and funded by The Jefferson Council and The Spirit of VMI alumni organizations.

UVa was the biggest spender. In 2021 its DEI bureaucracy numbered 77 employees and cost $6.9 million in salaries. JMU had 65 DEI employees whose salaries totaled $5.3 million. In 2020 Virginia Tech ranked No.2 statewide in DEI spending, with 47 staff costing $4 million in salaries.

In 2020, Virginia State University, a historically Black university, and the Virginia Military Institute, a senior military college, were the only two institutions without a DEI staffer. VMI hired a DEI director in 2021. Continue reading