Category Archives: Education (K-12)

Alexandria School Chief Transfers Kid to Private School

Gregory C. Hutchings Jr.

Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., superintendent of Alexandria public schools, presided over the conversion this fall from teaching in-person to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic. The effort seems to have been competently executed. Schools made sure that learn-at-home students were equipped with Chromebooks, partnered with Comcast to provide free internet to poor families, made training videos available, and set up a family helpdesk.

So, it was curious that Hutchings pulled one of his two children from Alexandria’s T.C. Williams High School and enrolled her at Bishop Ireton High School, a Catholic school which, like most private schools, remains open and largely COVID-free.

When queried by T.C. William’s student news outlet Theogany, Hutchings said in a statement:  “I can confirm that our family made a decision to change my daughter’s school this school year. Decisions like these are very personal family decisions and are not taken lightly. This in no way impacts my absolute lifelong, commitment to public education, to which I remain as personally dedicated as ever.” Continue reading

UVa Vice Provost’s Tough Job: Recruiting More Blacks to a “Racist” University

Stephen Farmer

by James A. Bacon

Pity poor Stephen Farmer. The newly appointed vice provost for enrollment at the University of Virginia has a thankless job: fulfilling the goal of admitting more African Americans and Hispanics, even as Virginia’s flagship university has inadvertently branded itself as a racist institution.

Farmer’s appointment was highlighted in the most recent issue Virginia, the UVa alumni magazine. A UVa alumnus, Farmer was recruited from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions. With a record of attracting more first-generation students and students from underrepresented minorities, Farmer has made “remarkable contributions to the shape of the class,” says Provost M. Elizabeth Magill.

Taking charge of both undergraduate admissions and student financial services, Farmer will build new strategies for attracting applicants and supporting students’ financial needs. “There’s a real logic in bringing them together,” Magill said.

He has two big challenges. First, in its recent report, “Audacious Future: Commitment Required,” UVa’s Racial Equity Task Force has articulated the goal of building a student body that “reflects the racial and economic demographics of the Commonwealth of Virginia.” Only 7.4% of the undergraduate student body is African-American, compared to about 20% of Virginia’s population. Only 7.4% is Hispanic, compared to about 10% of the state population. Asians are significantly over-represented: 17.1% of the student body compared to 5.6% of the state population. Whites are slightly under-represented.  (These numbers are calculated from data published on UVa’s Diversity Dashboard, omitting foreign students and students whose race is unknown.) Continue reading

Northam’s Plan for Public School “Equity”

by James A. Bacon

The Northam administration is pushing through the greatest transformation in Virginia’s K-12 public education system since the end of Massive Resistance. Unless you read Bacon’s Rebellion, you likely know nothing about this. The establishment media is not covering the biggest K-12 story of our generation.

Northam’s goal is nothing less than achieving “educational equity,” or equal outcomes for all races and ethnicities. Not equal opportunity for all, not equal resources for all, but equal outcomes.

According to a newly published document, “Navigating EdEquityVA: Virginia’s Road Map to Equity,” education equity is achieved when “we eliminate the predictability of student outcomes based on race, gender, zip code, ability, socioeconomic status or languages spoken at home.”

The key assumption underlying this push is that the United States — and Virginia is no exception — is a systemically racist country. Thus, “anti-racism” is a core component of the overhaul of the state’s public schools. However, anti-racism is not defined in a way that most Virginians would understand it: as opposing the expression of bias against minorities. The Northam administration explicitly uses a definition straight out of cultural Marxist theory prevalent in academia. Anti-racism, proclaims the document: Continue reading

Part III – Questions raised by Attorney General Herring’s Loudoun County Schools Determination

by James C. Sherlock

Still smiling?

The citizens of Loudoun and LCPS need to understand all the implications of the Attorney General’s determination.

This essay will offer questions that I sincerely recommend that LCPS pose to the Attorney General in order to get enough information to decide what to do. The AG’s office was given 60 days after the November 18 date on the determination to comply, so it should act immediately to get answers.

Immediately above Mr. Herring’s signature on the cover letter is the following statement:

Having found reasonable cause to believe that LCPS’s policies and practices resulted in a discriminatory impact on Black/African-American and Latin/Hispanic students, the Division of Human Rights request that the Charging Party (NAACP Loudoun) and Respondent (LCPS) engage in a post-determination conciliation process in an effort to resolve this matter. The final determination includes reforms and commitments that the Division believes are necessary to address the discriminatory disparate impact identified and help ensure equal opportunity for each student, as well as terms requested by the Charging Party in order to resolve this matter. (bold added)

Part II of this series listed those terms.

In the finding, there were two types of reforms required by the government. One type was things that need to be accomplished to ensure a statistically representative student body at Loudoun Academies. The other had to do with hiring, retention and promotion of minority employees, anti-discrimination policies, student discipline, and complaint systems.

I offer a series of questions that LCPS may wish to pose to the Attorney General to clarify the determination.

Continue reading

Herring’s Loudoun County Determination Part II – State-Sponsored Extortion

Why is this man smiling?

by James C. Sherlock

Part one of two essays on this subject described a new Virginia law, a new Division in the Attorney Generals office, its function as a kangaroo court and its astonishing and sweeping  “determination” against Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS). The law requires LCPS to block Asian American kids from the competitively accessed Loudoun Academies in favor of protected classes.

That is not even the heart of the scandal.

That same determination published the NAACP’s demands to settle the case. I will quote the NAACP demands directly here because a summary cannot do it justice. Remember, these “requests” were published by the Attorney General. Also remember that if the NAACP is unhappy, it can go to court with the AG’s determination in hand.

Please note the demand for a high quality charter school for black students that can eliminate the achievement gap. Perhaps Success Academy can help.

Continue reading

Herring’s Academies of Loudoun Ruling – Part I – Only Cure for Disparate Impact is Fewer Asians

Why is this man smiling?

by James C. Sherlock

I just finished reading the 61-page “Final Determination of the Office of Attorney General Division of Human Rights in DHR Case No.: 19-2652, NAACP Loudoun Branch v. Loudoun County Public Schools.”

The first thing I discovered is that the Democrats in the last session created a kangaroo court within the Attorney General’s Office for civil rights cases. It is the new Division of Human Rights.

The second thing I noted was the state-sponsored extortion that was part of the “determination.” This essay will be about the new law that enabled this determination, the finding and its implications.

Part II will expose the state-sanctioned extortion that the “determination” endorses.

This case, while focused on public schools in Loudoun County, is a shot across the bow of every business in Virginia. Not only small businesses are in the crosshairs. Consider Boeing and Amazon, corporate nomads both. Good thing they established headquarters in Northern Virginia before this law. But then again, they are flexible with regards to the states in which they do business. Those two Goliaths used to call the states of Washington and then Illinois (Boeing) and Washington (Amazon) home. Continue reading

The Pick-Your-Expert Game, Virginia Schools Division

by James C. Sherlock

Danica Roem

A story  by Dana Goldstein published in the New York Times on June 30, 2020, illustrates America’s new favorite parlor game: Pick your expert.  

This essay is hereby entered in the Virginia schools division of the bigger game. Ms. Goldstein wrote:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics has a reputation as conservative and cautious, which is what you would expect from an organization devoted to protecting children’s health. But this week, the academy made a splash with advice about reopening schools that appears to be somewhat at odds with what administrators are hearing from some federal and state health officials.”

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, have advised that remote learning is the safest option. But the (American Academy of Pediatrics) guidelines strongly recommend that students be “physically present in school” as much as possible, and emphasize that there are major health, social and educational risks to keeping children at home.”

Later, there was a government-directed shotgun wedding of the two opinions, but the core AAP recommendation remains. So like every other argument, confirmation bias proved determinative in how various interests chose their “experts.” Continue reading

School Culture, Volunteerism and COVID-19

Substitute teacher Anna Kimerer teaches from a cart carrying musical instruments and supplies.

by James A. Bacon

In Washington County, down by the border with Tennessee, Emory & Henry College students are helping to fill gaps in the ranks of local school teachers by volunteering as substitutes. Writes the Bristol Herald-Courier:

Emory & Henry senior Aleah Bowers actually quit her job at a local grocery store to help answer the need for substitutes in Washington County schools.

“I’m substituting about four days each week,” said Bowers, who plans to take the jobs through the Christmas holiday. She also hopes to substitute next semester while she is student teaching.

“I’ve been all over Washington County as a substitute. I actually love it. Not only do I get to interact with the students, but I get more experience as a teacher.”

Continue reading

Belly Flops Make a Splash – Virginia Attacks on School Quality Gain National Attention

by James C. Sherlock

Why is this man smiling?

The Wall Street Journal featured an op-ed today, the first four words of which were “Attorney General Mark Herring.” No picture of the AG, so I offer one here, but they spelled his name right. so perhaps it will be Senator Herring or President Herring one day soon.

Unfortunately, the next words after his title and name were: 

“has fired the latest salvo in America’s assault on meritocracy: a 61-page opinion holding that the suburban Loudoun County school system discriminated against black and Hispanic youngsters because its selective-admission high school, the Academies of Loudon, hadn’t admitted enough of them. Never mind that—as Mr. Herring acknowledged—the school’s test-based admissions process is open to all and fairly managed. Because its results have a “disparate impact,” the school system must scrap it.”

The piece went on to describe for a national audience what Bacons Rebellion has been pointing out to Virginia readers. Selective admission schools are under attack for, well, being selective. Using tests to determine admissions does not result in student bodies that match the general demographics. It’s what the woke left calls the “Asian problem.” Asian students study too hard and have supportive parents. Continue reading

Virginia AG: Selective Admissions Are Racist

The Academies of Loudoun

by Hans Bader

The Virginia attorney general’s office has ruled that the Loudoun County school system committed illegal racial discrimination by admitting relatively few black and Hispanic students to its selective schools, the Academies of Loudoun.

For reasons that have nothing to do with racism, the Academies of Loudoun are much more heavily Asian than the Loudoun County Public Schools as a whole. They have fewer blacks, Hispanics, and whites than the Loudoun school district as a whole. The finding of “discrimination” against LCPS is wrong, because it is based on an apples-to-oranges comparison and concept of discrimination that likely does not apply to school systems. Continue reading

Virginia Legislators Hear Lies, Smears and Key Omissions in Critical Race Theory-Based Attacks on Schools

by James C. Sherlock

Senator Louise Lucas

I just spent a great deal of time reviewing two Zoom seminars for Virginia legislators on the education committees of the General Assembly planning 2021 legislation.  

The briefings they got in preparation for the upcoming session were filled with lies, smears, critical omissions and self-referential “data” relative to equity and diversity in Virginia schools.

One was the Virginia Education Summit hosted November 9 and 10 by Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, and Del. Roslyn Tyler, D-Greensville, chairs of the Senate Education and Health Committee and House Education Committee respectively. The Senate Committee on Education and Health has 10 Democrat’s and 5 Republicans and the House Committee on Education has 13 Democrats and 8 Republicans, so this was largely a meeting focused on Democratic priorities.

I sometimes disagree with both Lucas and Tyler on policy, but I will assume they are honest legislators, so will I consider them among the aggrieved parties in what was presented in this two-day meeting. Continue reading

Chesapeake: Putting Kids First

by Kerry Dougherty

Here’s something to be grateful for during Thanksgiving week 2020: If you believe education is important, give thanks for Jared Cotton, superintendent of Chesapeake Public Schools.

Despite enormous pressure to close classrooms and send 40,000 kids home to turn into overweight, mouth-breathing computer-screen addicts, he’s keeping the Chesapeake schools open, despite rising COVID-19 cases.

Best of all, he has the unanimous support of the Chesapeake School Board.

Refreshing. Educators putting kids first are uncommon these days. Last week Virginia Beach schools went back to remote learning. Continue reading

COVID Accelerates the National Dumbing Down

by James A. Bacon

Drawing upon testing of 5.3 million students in all 50 states this fall, the Renaissance testing service found that students in some grades had fallen 7 weeks behind expectations for reading and as many as 12 weeks behind for math.  Continue reading

Reopen Public Schools or Provide Education Choice

by Vicky Manning

When I was elected to serve on the Virginia Beach School Board in 2016, I never imagined there would be a time when I would have to fight to keep our school doors open. However, that is what I have been doing for the last 6 months.

The last day of in-person learning was Friday March 13th. At that time I felt the right measures were being taken to “flatten the curve.” However, as the months of school closures continued, I questioned the toll it was taking on our students.

I have been pushing since June to get our schools prepared to safely return our students. Elementary students and grades 6 & 9 were finally phased back into in-person learning around the beginning of October. The plan was for all other grades – 7,8,10,11,12 – to return last week under a plan for 2 days-a-week learning by splitting the students alphabetically by last name. Half of those students went back to school for 2 days last week, but if you were unlucky enough to fall into the A-L last name category, you got the plug pulled when the announcement was made by the Superintendent to return all students to virtual learning. Those students have not been in a classroom since March 13th. Continue reading

Public School Accountability Compromised Again

James F. Lane, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction

by James A. Bacon

Having scrapped the Standards of Learning (SOL) exams for Virginia public school students during the COVID-19 spike last spring, the Virginia Department of Education plans to relax its standardized testing requirements again this spring. In addition, school divisions will be given “greater flexibility” in awarding students credits towards graduation.

“The waivers and emergency guidance will simplify the logistics of SOL testing this year and ensure that COVID-19 pandemic does not unduly prevent any student from earning a diploma,” said State Superintendent James Lane in a press release yesterday. “The Board of Education and I are also creating opportunities for school divisions to create multiple pathways for students to demonstrate content mastery while prioritizing health and safety.” Continue reading