Category Archives: Leadership

Naming Commission is Stripping History

by Donald Smith

The week of January 16, 2023, was a big one for Virginia heritage issues in the Richmond area. Connor Williams, the chief historian for the Congressional Naming Commission (CNC) came to the American Civil War Museum to explain and defend the commission’s sweeping recommendations toward, and its disparagement of, Confederate memories on Department of Defense installations.

That week also saw the announcement that the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond would be renamed as part of a campaign to strip “racist history from military facilities,” according to a story in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes.

In the article, Sen. Mark Warner (D), a former governor of Virginia, praised the renaming. “Naming decisions should honor the patriotism of our veterans,” he said.

So, by highlighting that particular part of Warner’s statement, the Stars and Stripes apparently thinks that, in Mark Warner’s eyes, Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire and the Virginia soldiers he treated during the Civil War were neither patriots nor veterans.

It is time for the General Assembly to act. The GA needs to convene a hearing to explore the CNC’s recommendations and let the CNC justify them. Continue reading

Free at Last

by Jim McCarthy

Compulsory K-12 education under state law is a fact often taken for granted since its enactment in 1908 in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 1984, the state authorized homeschooling initiated by an earlier Supreme Court decision in 1972 (Wisconsin v Yoder), providing for a religious exemption from compulsory attendance in public schools.

At present, some 56,000 youth are homeschooled in Virginia. Enhanced empowerment of parents was a principal plank in Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s campaign for the statehouse and continues to be extolled even as he travels around the country in support of GOP candidates. The newly elected Speaker of the House of Delegates, Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock), enthusiastically proclaimed upon his elevation, “We’re all about empowering parents.”

Under current regulations, homeschooling is authorized where parents demonstrate the following:

1. Possession of a valid high school diploma (or a higher degree, such as can be obtained through a university), which must be submitted to the district’s superintendent (a GED does not fulfill this requirement); or,
2. A valid teacher’s certificate as approved by the state; or,
3. Provide a distance or correspondence curriculum approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction; or,
4. Provide evidence that they, as the teaching parent, can meet the Virginia Standards of Learning objectives.

Perhaps, under the excitement of the leadership of Youngkin and Gilbert, a newly woke conservative effort is emerging designed further to shed or minimize state control in this area. Del. John McGuire (R-Louisa) introduced House Bill 1454 to eliminate the existing qualifications for homeschool proctors. Evidence of student academic progress remains a requisite at the end of the school year and may be based upon a standardized test on a nationally recognized examination, or an evaluation by a licensed educator, or a report from a distance-learning vendor. Continue reading

The Naming Commission’s Diktats

by Donald Smith

The Congressional Naming Commission (CNC) was authorized as part of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Its eight commissioners included two retired Army generals, a retired Navy admiral and a retired Marine Corps general. It also had academics with imposing credentials. One commissioner is a professor emeritus at United States Military Academy West Point and another is a senior official at the American Enterprise Institute. The commission’s chief historian, Connor Williams, took a leave of absence from his faculty position at Yale to serve on the CNC. The CNC even had an elected federal official — Austin Scott, a Republican congressman from Georgia.

The CNC recommended — among many, many other things — that all active U.S. Army bases named for Confederate generals be renamed. And, in the Preface to Part 1 of its report, it appears to pick a fight.

This is how the CNC report’s Preface characterizes monuments erected to Confederates and the Confederacy in the years following the Civil War:

Most importantly, during the end of the nineteenth century and the start of the twentieth century, the South and much of the nation came to live under a mistaken understanding of the Civil War known as the “Lost Cause.” As part of the “Lost Cause,” across the nation, champions of that memory built monuments to Confederate leaders and to the Confederacy, including on many Department of Defense assets. In every instance and every aspect, these names and memorials have far more to do with the culture under which they were named than they have with any historical acts actually committed by their namesakes. (Preface, page 3).

The obvious implication of this statement goes well beyond changing some base names. The commissioners presume to pass judgment on (a) what these names and memorials meant to everyone and (b) what the “real” motivations for those statues were. Think about that. Continue reading

Politics, Virginia Style

by Bill Bolling

It has been said that if you love politics, Virgina is a great place to be because there is an election every year! This year, 2023, will be no exception with all 140 seats in the Virginia General Assembly up for grabs.

But 2023 will not be your typical General Assembly election year.

Thanks to the complete failure of the new Virginia Redistricting Commission to successfully complete its work, new legislative districts were drawn by the Supreme Court of Virginia, and to say that the Supreme Court shook things up would be a gross understatement.

For example, consider the Virginia State Senate.

Under the new redistricting plan approved by the Supreme Court, no less than 14 of the Senate’s incumbent legislators find themselves paired in districts with another incumbent Senator, often a Senator of the same political party.

Some of the notable pairings include: Continue reading

Chaos in Congress Isn’t Good for Virginia

by Robin Beres

In a recent column for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Rep. Bob Good (R-VA 05), noted that as of this month, “the U.S. House of Representatives will be the only thing standing between Americans and the Democrats’ assault on freedom, the family, the economy and our national security.”

The GOP won the House majority by a slim margin in November 2022. So, if Good is so concerned about the Republicans’ ability to address so many pressing issues, isn’t it odd that he is being such a willing contributor to the humiliation the GOP is inflicting upon itself right now?

What should have been a quick vote on January 3 for a Speaker of the House — a requirement before Congress can begin working on any of the people’s business — ended in the House adjourning Tuesday with no Speaker. Three consecutive votes failed to garner enough support for GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA 23) to secure the gavel for his party.

The failure to elect a leader on the first vote is the first time this has happened in 100 years. The opposition is coming from a small group of far-right-wing Republicans who appear to be reveling in the chaos they are causing and the humiliation they have dealt to McCarthy. Bob Good is one of them.

I’m not sure what Good, who considers himself a biblical conservative, hopes to derive from this nonsense, other than reveling in the national attention. If he and his team of hyper-conservatives wanted to start this Congress making the GOP look like a bunch of inept buffoons, they’ve surely succeeded. If they wanted to give the Democrats a good laugh, they’ve also succeeded with that. Check out the Twitter picture of Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA 33), posing outside the House Chamber with a bag of popcorn. Continue reading

Scandal in Virginia Not-for-Profit Hospital Reported by the NY Times – Regional Perspectives

Richmond Community Hospital – “A glorified emergency room”?

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes my subscription to The New York Times pays off. This is one of those times.

The subtitle on the Times story is:

Bon Secours Mercy Health, a major nonprofit health system, used the poverty of Richmond Community Hospital’s patients to tap into a lucrative federal drug program.

It is a blockbuster of a scandal, extremely well reported. I hope a Pulitzer awaits.

The Times, as is necessary in that paper, made it a racial issue. Bon Secours has for generations served the Black population of Hampton Roads nearly exclusively. It continues to do so and continues to lose money doing so.

That was not mentioned in the Times article. Nor in the editorial in the Richmond Free Press about the scandal.

But it doesn’t really matter. What happened in Richmond was wrong. This scandal is not the work of a properly led charity.

I have directly dealt with and reported on Bon Secours Hampton Roads for years. I will attempt to offer background on this mess for perspective both looking back and looking forward. Continue reading

What Leadership Looks Like – Teacher Shortages, Learning Losses and Gov. Youngkin

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes you just have to let leaders speak for themselves.

This is one of those times.

Faced with critical teacher shortages and learning losses, I publish here the Governor’s Executive Order 3 and Bridging the Gap: Learning Loss Recovery Plan

I don’t just congratulate the governor, but everyone involved, especially including the fifteen school divisions who agreed to try to become part of the solution in learning losses. Continue reading