And the Governor’s Executive Order will outlive the Virginia law that directs schools to adhere to CDC guidance, even if they think they can figure out what it is.
By James C. Sherlock
Many quote the “science” that favors their opinions.
Virginia law requires:
“each school board to provide such in-person instruction in a manner in which it adheres, to the maximum extent practicable, to any currently applicable mitigation strategies for early childhood care and education programs and elementary and secondary schools to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 that have been provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
A little noted provision of that law is that it expires on August 1 of this year. It will not pass again. The debate will continue after that date, but so will the executive order.
Regardless, I thought it would be useful to go to the source, CDC, and see if its science-based “currently applicable mitigation strategies” match its political guidance.
I cannot certify that they do. The CDC offers at least three different recommendations for protecting children from COVID.
None of them match.
by Asra Q. Nomani
Yes, Virginia, there is critical race theory in the state. Read our examples at Parents Defending Education. There were 20. Now, there are 19.
In their first week in office, Jillian Balow, the new Virginia superintendent of schools, and Elizabeth Schultz, the new Virginia assistant superintendent, have eliminated the Virginia Department of Education’s controversial “Virginia Math Pathways Initiative” that was set to eliminate accelerated math options for students.
The initiative outraged many parents for dumbing down math in the state and reducing advanced math courses for students prior to 11th grade, essentially blocking advanced learners from from moving forward in earlier grades. Continue reading
by Dick Hall-Sizemore
My grandkids have been homeschooled since they were old enough to go to school (going on 16 years or so now). Therefore, I don’t have a dog in this fight over school mask mandates. Neither do most of the commenters on this blog, I suspect.
Thus, a recent conversation with a friend who does have kids in public school (two K-5 boys) was most enlightening. I freely admit that this is one conversation and may not be representative. But this friend is smart, savvy, and observant and I trust his/her general observations.
When I mentioned that Monday would be the test of the governor’s Executive Order on school mask mandate, he sort-of rolled his eyes and lamented that policy was being based on the loudest voices. Most of the parents in our Henrico neighborhood school that her sons attended supported the mask mandate, she said. It was the few who did not that showed up at the school yelling at the principal and yelling at the teachers. Continue reading
Children wearing gas masks 1941
by James C. Sherlock
I have two important questions for my friends who insist on mandates for masks for children in schools.
Is the child mask mandate permanent? If not, where is the offramp?
I will cede for purposes of this inquiry that you are sincere in your concern for the vulnerability to COVID of teachers and children in schools and of the kids’ parents and grandparents when the little devils get home.
So, I am about to concede a lot more in an attempt to get your answers. Continue reading
by Joe Fitzgerald
About one in 16 American adults suffer with chronic pulmonary disease. Serious health guidelines say they’re the primary ones who should not wear masks. Some of them still can, but a figure of 6% is about the maximum of adults who shouldn’t wear them.
The governor of Virginia, elected to eradicate a subject that isn’t being taught, has decided that removing masks from public schools is the hill he wants to die on.
The two possibilities are that he truly believes life-saving mask mandates in public schools threaten personal freedom, or that he wants to pick a fight early on to exhibit his strength as governor.
The latter seems more likely. And while even some people are his side of the aisle are smart enough to see what he’s doing, a lot of the people who voted for him aren’t. They elected a reality TV star as president and now a financial speculator as governor. Somehow the image of a private equity manager struck them as more John Wayne than Jacob Marley. Continue reading
by James C. Sherlock
On Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand auditioned successfully for the role of Dean Wormer in an unannounced remake of Animal House.
He has ordered the out-of-school suspension of any student intentionally removing or refusing to wear a face covering indoors on school property or transportation.
As you undoubtedly know, but as Dean Braband has reminded his principals, such behavior is a violation of the famous FCPS Regulation 2613 (Student Dress Code). Continue reading
By James C. Sherlock
In a story “Polarized debate over masking In Northern Virginia schools” written for WAMU 88.5, American University Radio, Margaret Barthel provided an excellent and well-balanced recounting of that debate. I recommend it to you.
The picture below that accompanied it was literally worth a thousand words.
Annandale High School first day of school. Cheerleaders and the high school band greeted students on the first day of school in Fairfax County. Tyrone Turner / DCist/WAMU
You might want to update the Virginia Department of Education website. You’ve been Superintendent for Public Instruction for almost a week now, but here’s what the VDOE website shows on its “About” page as of Jan. 21, 10:33 a.m.
You’ve got a tough job ahead, and I suspect that you’re busier than a one-armed paper hanger right now. But you might want to remind people who’s boss.
by Kerry Dougherty
Excellent news for students in two Hampton Roads school districts.
On Thursday, the ever-sensible Chesapeake School Board voted 7-1 to abolish its mask mandate. Beginning Monday, students in Chesapeake can breathe free again!
The board is complying with an executive order signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Saturday, removing the former governor’s mask mandate for all Virginia students in grades K-12.
In a more stunning move, the left-leaning Virginia Beach School Board also decided more or less to comply with Youngkin’s order by a vote of 9-2.
In a weird sleight-of-hand, the board voted to allow parents to opt their children out of its mask mandate beginning on Monday. The compromise was crafted by Superintendent Aaron Spence. It allows the Beach to keep its mandate in place, while letting parents decide if their kids should wear masks for seven hours a day. Continue reading
Courtesy of Fairfax County Public Schools
by James C. Sherlock
Hard to sweep this under the rug.
Pat Herrity of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors yesterday released on his Twitter account this picture of a teaching aid used in a Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) classroom.
There is no indication yet of the grades in which “privilege Bingo” is being offered, or of the rules of the “game.” We know for sure which kids are the losers. All of them.
The kids who check the most boxes are singled out as privileged, thus not responsible for their success. Perhaps they are oppressors. We’ll need to find out exactly what was said.
The kids who check the fewest boxes are humiliated in front of their peers. Whatever may be the words coming out of the teacher’s mouth, those kids are learning false lessons:
- that the world won’t work for them;
- that they have little chance to succeed no matter how hard they try;
- that personal agency is a myth; and
- that school is a waste of time.
The common threads in this “game” for all children, that privilege at birth is destiny and that personal responsibility and effort play only minor roles in success, are as devastatingly false and hurtful as anything one can tell a kid.
Virginians demand a fair investigation. If a violation of a state-granted license or licenses is found, we will demand accountability.
I note that division superintendents are licensed by the Board of Education https://www.baconsrebellion… should that prove the source of the problem in this case. Continue reading
School children wearing masks outside at recess. Courtesy of Albemarle County Public Schools
by James C. Sherlock
Virtually all parents pay close attention to their children’s report cards.
That is, however, a fruitless exercise if the grades do not reflect actual learning.
I spoke the other day to a senior school official who related to me his own story. One of his children, a second grader, brought home straight A’s in math.
Yet this parent, with a Ph.D. in Education, and his wife, herself a second grade teacher, knew for a fact that the child did not yet understand math at her second grade level.
Another friend with credentials similar to those parents reminded me today that teachers test what they teach. In her experience, the teacher likely did not mislead on purpose. An alternate explanation is that the teacher was not testing to the state standard, but rather to her own.
Those two parents had the education and professional experience to recognize and address the issue with their child. Many parents do not.
It is time to find out how extensive this problem is in Virginia. Continue reading
Darkness descends upon the academical village. Photo credit: Washington Post
by Joel Gardner
One of my earliest memories is sitting with my mother as a pre-kindergartener watching the McCarthy hearings in the spring of 1954. Television was a new medium for most American households and the bombastic anti-communist antics of the junior senator from Wisconsin held the population enthralled for months. But, while television gave Joe McCarthy the exposure and notoriety he craved, it also spelled his doom, as more and more citizens came to realize that his agenda of intolerance and intimidation did not represent the American way. In fact, so many Americans were disenchanted and disgusted with the senator’s methodology that the term “McCarthyism” became a widespread derogatory term — which would become synonymous with authoritarian behavior characterized by thought indoctrination, loyalty oaths, and intolerance and punishment for dissenting views.
For over ﬁve decades, most American institutions eschewed tactics and agendas that reeked of McCarthyism. Which is why it is so disheartening and frightening to witness so many current institutions embracing the attributes of
McCarthyism — especially the one institution where it should be absolute anathema, but where it is most pronounced — our college campuses.
Unfortunately, this includes my alma mater, the University of Virginia, whose founders, Thomas Jeﬀerson and James Madison, were the individuals most responsible for our Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, the two pillars of American individual rights and freedoms. And just as the illuminating screen of television revealed the evils of McCarthyism, for those concerned with a free exchange of ideas and a level playing ﬁeld of learning in higher education, it is important to shine the light of truth on the inappropriate and dangerous indoctrination ﬂourishing at UVA. Continue reading
by Dick Hall-Sizemore
What is it with school divisions? I am not talking about masks or anything about COVID, but about their panic at the mere mention of snow. This has been a longtime complaint of mine.
The Wednesday afternoon weather forecast for the Richmond area on Thursday called for temperatures in the high 30s to the low 40s, with rain in the morning gradually turning into snow in the afternoon with an accumulation of perhaps an inch.
Gotta close the schools! Continue reading
Virginia AG Jason Miyares AP Photo/Cliff Owen
by James C. Sherlock
Word has made it to the Loudoun County Public Schools Board that the new Attorney General is coming to investigate.
Something about the handling by the administration of rapes in two different schools by the same male student. And not properly reporting the first one.
Seems that not only responsible leadership and common sense but also Title IX were violated.
Attorney General Miyares’ footsteps have gotten loud enough that LCPS has offered a human sacrifice to appease him. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
In his first speech to the General Assembly, Governor Glenn Youngkin stressed the need to upgrade academic standards in Virginia’s public schools. “Education standards for math and reading are now the lowest in the nation,” he said.
Warren Fiske with VPM News “fact checked” the statement. Citing the National Center for Education Statistics, he noted that, yes, Virginia’s 4th-grade proficiency standards for reading are the second lowest among the 50 states and 4th-grade math standards are the lowest. But Youngkin leaves out critical context, Fiske contends. The scores of Virginia students in national standardized exams are “near the top” for 4th graders, and “high” in math and “average in reading for 8th graders.
“Youngkin’s claim, without elaboration, wrongly suggests that Virginia students are being taught less than their colleagues across the country,” writes Fiske. “So we rate his statement Half True.”
Translation: “Technically speaking, Youngkin’s statement was 100% accurate. But I’ll read between the lines and decipher what he was hinting at, and the meaning I impute to his words is wrong.”
Even then, Fiske’s context needs context. As it turns out, Virginia’s recent performance in national standardized test scores is heading in the wrong direction. Continue reading