Category Archives: Race and race relations

School Discipline, Part III: Reframing Discipline in Virginia and Considerations for Making New Policy

by Matthew Hurt and Kathleen Smith

Reframing School Discipline

The Student Behavior and Administrative Response (SBAR) data collection was implemented in response to reframing school discipline from that of criminal, punishment, and exclusionary practices from 1991-2020 to that of restorative, intervention, and inclusionary practices in 2021 and beyond. The SBAR reports on behaviors that impede academic progress, behaviors related to school operations, relationship behaviors, behaviors that present a safety concern, behaviors that endanger self or others, and behaviors identified as persistently dangerous.

The SBAR records responses to discipline such as class removals, suspensions, expulsions with or without instructional services, and loss of privileges; behavioral interventions such as parents contacts, referrals, restorative practices; and instructional supports such as changes in placement, virtual programs, and support with and without face-to-face teacher contact.

The collection will always have inherent problems. Some data are clear: suspension or expulsion. Some data are not clear: support with or without face-to-face teacher contact. What if that contact was made by an administrator? Would removal for the last five minutes of class period be considered a removal? The reporting individual could inadvertently make the data very unreliable.

A cursory literature review demonstrated that “reframing discipline” occurred not only in Virginia, but throughout most educational institutions and juvenile justice organizations. Tight discipline policies in the late 1990s and early 2000s were replaced by less rigid or loose policies as early as 2010. After expulsions and suspensions catapulted, deterrent policies that used police, cameras, metal detectors, and locker searches were replaced by progressive policies that allow for a continuum of responses, prevention, intervention, supports, and consequences that foster positive behaviors.

Unintended Consequences of Both Tight and Loose Policies

Tight discipline policies do not allow for mitigation. The teacher uses minimal discretion for enforcement of rules. Breaking a rule, no matter the circumstance, is followed by a prescribed consequence. Loose discipline policies allow for more teacher and principal latitude over managing students. Loose discipline policies allow them to navigate the circumstance and use their professional judgment and expertise to decide on how much or how little  consequence should be received.

Our efforts to address disproportionality through looser policies that allow more educator discretion and at the same time provide better reporting and hold schools accountable may have inadvertently caused additional problems. Continue reading

Leave Arlington’s Confederate Memorial Intact

Cherry trees bloom in Jackson Circle around the Confederate Monument in Section 16 of Arlington National Cemetery, April 7, 2015, in Arlington, Va. The Confederate Monument was unveiled June 4, 1914, according to the ANC website. (Arlington National Cemetery photo by Rachel Larue)

by Phil Leigh

Arlington National Cemetery’s Confederate Memorial should remain intact. Although four of the first seven cotton states arguably seceded from the union over slavery, they did not cause the Civil War. They had no purpose to overthrow the federal government. After forming the seven state Confederacy in February 1861, they promptly sent commissioners to Washington to “preserve the most friendly relations” with the truncated Union. Instead of letting the cotton states depart in peace, the North’s resolve to force them back into the Union caused the war.

With half of the military-aged white men of the eventual 11-state Confederacy, the four states of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas only joined the original seven after President Lincoln called upon them to provide volunteers to force the first seven back into the Union. In response to a telegram from Lincoln’s Secretary of War Edwin Stanton directing that Virginia provide her quota of such volunteers, Governor John Letcher replied that his state would not comply and concluded: “You have chosen to inaugurate Civil War….”

On the eve of the war, Northerners and Southerners differed on their relative loyalties to the federal and state governments. According to historians Edward Channing and Eva Moore, Northerners had

the general opinion that the Union was sovereign, and the states were part of it…. The idea that the people of the United States formed one nation had been reinforced by the coming of immigrants from abroad. These people had no conception of a ‘state’ or a sentimental attachment to a ‘state.’ They had come to America to better their condition….

By mostly settling in the North, they reinforced the Northerners’ belief that they owed their loyalty to the Union first and only secondarily to the state. Continue reading

Part II: School Discipline, Virginia Data and Virginia’s Disproportionality Concerns

This is the second of a three-part series on school discipline. The authors present information and provide discussion questions for the audience to respond. We hope the discussion will further an understanding of the complexity of school discipline and safe and orderly schools within the context of the presented data.

by Matthew Hurt and Kathleen Smith

Findings from Virginia Data

Data on school discipline are abundant, but not always reliable. The reasons are many. Overall, data are reported by infraction to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and to the Office of Civil Rights by each school division. One kind of infraction in one school division may be deemed another kind of infraction by another division. For example, using a curse word while talking to a teacher could be considered disrespect or a threat, depending on who is entering the data in the system. Although the VDOE has attempted to clarify the language over time, it still may not be reliable. For this reason, the data used herein refer to only a few data points of what is reported to the Office of Civil Rights by divisions for each school every two years in 2015-2016 and 2017-2018. This data can be found here. Some data are highlighted below.

Congruency Matters in Learning and Discipline Data

Congruency means that percent of total of a discipline indicator should be similar or equal to the enrollment percent of total. In other words, in 2017-2018, if 22 percent of students are Black, then 22 percent of Black students should have been suspended. In 2017-2018, 51 percent of the total number of suspensions were of Black students. This means that the Black population’s results are not congruent to the actual percent of the Black students in the total population. 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

As TJHSST is Investigated, an Email from 2020 Reveals a ‘Pattern and Practice’ of Hiding Awards

by Asra Q. Nomani

This week, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares walked through the glass doors of the Korean Community Center off Little River Turnpike, the dome of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology visible through the window, and with him stood five parents of current and former students at TJ, as the school is known locally.

In a devastating announcement for Fairfax County Public Schools, Miyares announced twin civil rights investigations into, first, the withholding of National Merit Commended Student awards by TJ administrators and, second, a Fairfax County school admissions policy, put in place in December 2020, that a federal judge ruled discriminates illegally against Asian American students.

Miyares’ team will be seeking to identify a “pattern and practice” of discriminatory actions, a standard in civil rights cases. Currently, in defense of the school district, FCPS spokeswoman Julie Moult told reporters on Dec. 29, that withholding National Merit Commendation awards from students this year was a “one-time human error in the fall of 2022 only.”

“To suggest a deliberate intent to withhold this information would be inaccurate and contrary to the values of FCPS,” Moult continued. The district, she went on, values “hard work and dedication.”

“Fairfax County Public Schools also seems to value obfuscation and deception,” said Norma Margulies, the mother of a student at TJ, an immigrant from Peru, and one of the parents standing on stage with Miyares.

An email, obtained by Fairfax County Times, reveals that, indeed, in fall 2020, TJ staffers misled parents and students about the National Merit Commended Student award, presented to the top 3 percent of 1.5 million students who take the PSAT exam.

In the email, dated Nov. 24, 2020, at 11:53:25 a.m., a TJ staffer copied and pasted information about the Commended Student award into an email to a parent, who was asking about the award, incorrectly stating, “There is no letter and no formal announcement for Commended scholars and the list of Commended scholars is not made public.”

In fact, more than two entire months earlier, on Sept. 10, 2020, according to a National Merit Scholarship Corporation spokeswoman, the Illinois-based nonprofit sent a letter to TJ Principal Ann Bonitatibus notifying her the school had 230 National Merit Commended Students. Most of them were Asian- American. The school district typically releases the names of National Merit Semifinalists, who advance to compete to be National Merit Finalists.

The National Merit letter included a note with the explicit expectation that schools will inform students and parents, “Please present the letters of commendation as soon as possible since it is the students’ only notification.” Continue reading

$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

Why Does Princeton Have All the Luck?

by James C. Sherlock

Cavalier Daily, where are you?

There is an article in The Daily Princetonian that is, end-to-end, utterly beyond satire.

It’s title: “3 Princeton DEI staff members resign, alleging lack of support.”

Where to begin?

The “Prince” offers in a single posting Homeric tales of the peripatetic journeys of three school officials that led to their resignations. Three from among Princeton’s 70 (not a typo) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion staffers.

We find in that article indignation; tears; allegations of macro-aggressions; an HIV-positive Chair of the University Health Services Transgender Health Team; a self-proclaimed “Black queer non-binary person (is BQNBP an acronym?)” overseeing DEI in the athletics department; fears of monkey pox; claims of burnout; statements of support by the University; a Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity; an Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion; promotion politics; assorted levels of despair; claims and rebuttals relative to structural issues in DEI at Princeton; and more acronyms than you can count.

Like The Pentagon Papers and almost as long, it is exhausting, but you will not be well read until you work through it.

You will be informed that

employees at the University have participated in more than 6,000 learning opportunities across 150 DEI-related classes and that more than 400 managers have been trained on Mitigating Bias in the Hiring Process.

Employees have also engaged in training regarding LGBTQ Allyship; Bias, Power, Privilege and Workplace Communication; Psychological Safety; and more.

One might conclude there may be burnout among the audiences of those “learning opportunities,” too. But it is a very safe bet they do not express it.

We can only imagine the travails of the DEI staff at the University of Virginia.

The Cavalier Daily, challenged, will surely be on it.

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

by James A. Bacon

I’m so confused. We’ve been hearing for years that air pollution from fossil fuel plants disproportionately impacts minorities. Take, for example, a 2018 Environmental Protection Agency study which found that African-Americans faced a 54% higher health burden from particulate air emissions like soot compared to the overall population. Systemic racism was the culprit. Numerous other studies have reached similar conclusions.

To address the systemic racism embedded in the U.S. energy system, greenies have touted the generation of electricity from non-polluting energy sources such as wind and solar. (Let’s set aside the fact that air pollution is displaced in many cases to unregulated mines in Africa, not known for their health and safety conditions, which produce the materials used in wind turbines and solar cells.)

Now comes a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which finds that the health benefits of wind power could quadruple by dialing down production from the most polluting fossil-fuel-based power plants when wind is available. But the study, published in Science Advances, had a disturbing caveat: only 30% of the benefits would reach disadvantaged communities.

“We found that prioritizing health is a great way to maximize benefits in a widespread way across the U.S., which is a very positive thing. But it suggests it’s not going to address disparities,” says MIT co-author Noelle Selin. Continue reading

Violent Crime Wave? What Violent Crime Wave?

Who’s more racist — conservatives calling for a crackdown on violent criminals or the people who insist that the surge in violent crime is a fabricated conservative talking point?

Anti-Semitism in Virginia

Source: Anti-Defamation League, as republished by “Combating Antisemitism in Virginia

by James A. Bacon

Antisemitism in Virginia isn’t as severe as in some other states, but the number of incidents of harassment and vandalism has increased in recent years, according to a report by the Commission to Combat Antisemitism, “Combating Antisemitism in Virginia.”

In 2021, 411 reported antisemitic incidents impacted residents of the Commonwealth, reports the study, based on Anti-Defamation League data. These incidents showed a 71% increase over the 292 reported in 2018. Fortunately, none of these events involved the infliction of physical harm to anyone.

Antisemitism became a high-profile issue in 2017 during the Unite the Right rally of White supremacist groups, which was marked by numerous chants, and signage and sieg heils that singled out Jews for vilification. The vast majority of White Supremacists came from outside the state, but the event gave Virginia a bad name.

“Antisemitism is a wide-ranging problem that cuts across diverse segments of American society and exists on both the extreme left and extreme right sides of the political spectrum, as well as within the gradients in between,” states the report. Continue reading

Fathering While Black

by Asra Q. Nomani and Debra Tisler

STAFFORD, VA — “They are not taking my baby girl!” cries Sean Jackson, the black father of a beautiful girl, Amoria Adams, 10 months old, holding his beloved daughter.

This week, a school board member from Fairfax County, Va., Karen Keys-Gamarra, put in motion a judge’s order that tonight took a beautiful baby girl from the home of her doting father and paternal grandparents. At this moment. At 8:33 PM.

“You guys are taking my child,” says Jackson, distraught.

“No!” cries the paternal grandmother, Kimberly Jackson-Makle.

Three Stafford County sheriff’s officers moved tonight — Monday night, to seize this baby, nicknamed “Mori,” because of a judge’s order put in place by Keys-Gamarra on Monday without the father’s or paternal grandparents’ awareness.

Then, in the darkness of the night, little Amoria was strapped into a car seat in a white car and driven away by a stranger. Her father and grandparents have no clue where she is tonight.

How did this miscarriage of justice happen?

The writing on the wall was written on May 4, on the fourth floor of the Arlington Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, a bailiff held Amoria as a three-month-old baby girl and shouted, “Father? Where’s the father?”

Jackson, 28, a paramedic in nearby Stafford, Va., stepped forward and declared, “I’m the father.”

The bailiff thrust the baby into his arms.

Ever since Jackson had learned through a paternity test that he was Amoria’s father, he had been trying to win visitation. It seemed his case might have suddenly been strengthened. A few feet away, Arlington police led away the baby’s mother, 21, in handcuffs, arrested on an outstanding warrant for alleged assault and battery involving abuse of another of her daughters.

What are you? Retarded?

In the confusion, Jackson wondered what happened next.

But when he sought advice from the person who would know, Karen Keys-Gamarra, Amoria’s court-appointed attorney, he got a shocking answer – one that he says telegraphed her bias against him.

“What are you?” Keys-Gamarra snapped: “Retarded?”

While Keys-Gamarra denies using the term, it wouldn’t be the first time the lawyer, a Black activist and Fairfax County School Board member who ran as a “voice for the voiceless,” used the slur. On Thursday, Oct. 20, at a public meeting of the school board of Fairfax County Public Schools, Keys-Gamarra blurted out at one point during a dispute, “We cannot be this retarded,” in a hot-mic moment. The next day, disturbed by the use of the word, school board chair Rachna Sizemore Heizer told a local WUSA9 TV reporter, “That is actually the third time she’s used it.” Little did Sizemore Heizer know that a young father had also heard the word used to demean him. And according to someone close to Amoria’s mother, Keys-Gamarra refused to give Amoria to Jackson once when the baby was sick, saying: “He is retarded.”

For Jackson and his parents, the case illustrates the biases of a system rigged against fathers even by so-called progressives. Amoria’s mother, who is also Black, was three months pregnant with her when she was jailed in July 2021 for felony charges of possession of controlled substances and “gross, wanton or reckless care of a child.” Continue reading

In Higher-Ed, Diversity = Affirmative Action

More blue M&Ms, please

by Allan Stam

A couple of years ago, in a conversation with another dean at the University of Virginia, I was asked about my views on the ever-expanding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion enterprise. I explained that I was not a fan of the diversity movement and affirmative action. When asked why, I explained that my preference was for merit, and merit alone, to determine the allocation of scarce resources and in particular, admissions and employment spots. The conversation then turned to what the effects might be of basing admissions decisions solely on merit.

“Would you be OK with the student body being 40% Asian?” I was asked.

“Of course,” I responded. “But if you feel that UVA, as a public institution, should have a student body that represents Virginia’s population, then be explicit about that, and adopt quotas. I wouldn’t be happy with that, but at least we wouldn’t be hypocrites.”

My partner in the conversation, being of a legal mind, then observed, “You know we can’t do that, adopt quotas. Quotas are illegal.” And therein lies the rub.

Diversity, as practiced in American higher education, in general, and at the University of Virginia in particular, is a fraud. The word ‘diversity’ is a linguistic dodge to enable universities to sidestep what lawyers refer to as ‘strict scrutiny’ of the legality of affirmative action. Affirmative action, as a term, is a euphemism for race-based discrimination. So, Diversity is a double dodge. Continue reading

Blue on Blue: Richmond Progressive Attacks White Feminist Privilege

Photo credit: Reparations4slavery.com

by James A. Bacon

There’s big money in telling White people how racist they are. Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo have made millions of dollars doing it. Now Saira Rao, an Indian-American Richmond resident, has figured out how to cash in on the action.

Rao has written a book with Colorado co-author Regina Jackson, “White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism and How to Do Better,” that berates White feminists. The title has been picked up by big-time publisher Penguin Random House. Peter Galuszka interviewed Rao for a friendly piece in Style Weekly

While the book is sure to rake in royalties, the author’s shtick generates loads of ancillary revenue. In a program called “Race2Dinner” Rao and Jackson direct two-hour cocktail-and-dinner sessions in which six to eight White women confront their racism. Based on one of those dinner conversations, Director Patty Ivins Specht produced a documentary, “Deconstructing Karen,” which highlights “the unwitting ways” in which White women uphold “everyday white supremacy.” A ticket to a Race2Lunch event in Toronto this summer set back attendees $495 each; a Race2Dinner event in Denver cost $625.

Rao takes no prisoners. As she and Jackson write in the book, “Privilege is power. By ignoring your white privilege, you ignore your white power. When you ignore your white power, you uphold white supremacy. This is white feminism. White feminism. Is. White Supremacy.” Continue reading

Three Strikes and You’re Out, Mr. Ryan

Jim Ryan

by James A. Bacon

If University of Virginia President Jim Ryan wants to recruit more African-American students, faculty and staff to the university, here’s some advice: stop reinforcing racial paranoia. Stop lending legitimacy to the idea that Blacks at the University of Virginia are under threat.

So far this semester, there have been three racial scares at UVa. First someone threw a rock through the window of the Office of African-American Affairs. Then someone laid a flag bearing an owl symbol next to the Enslaved Laborers memorial and donated an anonymous check to an African-American student. Then someone hung a noose around the neck of a statue of the blind Greek poet Homer.

The three incidents generated alarm about a “larger pattern of racially motived crimes” before the full facts came in. Upon investigation, the first two were found to have no racial motivation and significant doubt has been cast on racial hatred as a motive for the third.

UVa officials deserve some credit for quickly releasing exonerating information as it became available. But rather than dampen unfounded speculation in his early remarks, Ryan legitimized it. Continue reading

Square Peg, Meet Round Hole

Morgan Griffith, Southwest Virginia’s representative to the U.S. House — described by the Times as a 2022 election “objector”

by James A. Bacon

I love it when The New York Times tries to explain to its liberal and progressive readers what makes Republicans tick. Viewing the world through their woke lens of intersectional oppression, an article published yesterday concludes that the depravity of White Republican political views reflects their ignorance and racism. The Times never used the “R” word outright, but that’s the unavoidable implication of its argument.

The article purports to explain the votes of Republican congressmen who voted last year to reject President Trump’s electoral defeat. An article published yesterday sums up the thesis thusly:

A shrinking white share of the population is a hallmark of the congressional districts held by the House Republicans who voted to challenge Mr. Trump’s defeat, a New York Times analysis found — a pattern political scientists say shows how white fear of losing status shaped the movement to keep him in power.

The Times allows Ashley Jardina, a George Mason University political scientist, to elaborate: “Because they are more vulnerable, disadvantaged or less educated white voters can feel especially endangered by the trend toward a minority majority. A lot of white Americans who are really threatened are willing to reject democratic norms because they see it as a way to protect their status.”

Let me make the syllogism crystal clear: White Republicans fear the demographic rise of minorities, and they fear their resulting loss of status. Rejecting democratic norms in a bid to preserve that status, they refused to concede Trump’s election loss, and their representatives voted to keep Trump in power.

This is what you get when you try to impose a progressive world view upon an recalcitrant reality. Continue reading