Category Archives: Race

CRT and Virginia History

“I have a dream.”

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Over the past few months, there has been considerable commentary on Bacon’s Rebellion regarding Critical Race Theory (CRT). Many on this blog seem to genuinely fear that this theory, or frame of reference, presents an existential threat to society, with our schools becoming centers of “Marxist indoctrination.”

Before discussing the legitimacy of this antagonism regarding CRT, it is useful to define it. James Sherlock, who is the leading commenter on this blog raising the alarm about CRT, defines it thusly:

“It postulates that racism is the driving force in society, that in order to understand power relations, in order to understand institutions such as the law, education, the Constitution, social relations, you have to understand that through the lens of race.” Continue reading

Virginia’s Updated “Regulations Governing Educational Services for Gifted Students” Has Temporarily Disappeared

James Lane, Secretary of Public Obfuscation and Obstruction Education

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes you just need to go to the documents to see what the Virginia Department of Education is up to. This example will tell you everything you want to know.

Each agency proposing a new or revised regulation is required by Virginia law to post a “Proposed Agency Background Document” on the “Virginia Regulatory Town Hall” website.

Turns out that those postings are occasionally fabulous. This is one of those times. One can see the wheels turning, including when the wheels go off the rails.

I have dissected one of particular interest to parents – Regulations Governing Educational Services for Gifted Students [8 VAC 20 ‑ 40]. 

Continue reading

The Floggings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Leah Walker, director of equity and community for the Virginia Department of Education

Two days ago, a bureaucratic entity known as the “Special Committee to Review the Standards of Accreditation” held a teleconference to discuss, among other issues, the disproportionality of punishments meted out to students of different races in Virginia public schools.  In that discussion, Leah Walker, director of equity and community for the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), made a remarkable admission: the sea change in disciplinary policies across the state, designed to reduce disparity between blacks and whites, is not working. In fact, she implies, the disparity might be getting worse.

Walker doesn’t put it that way, of course. As VDOE’s equity czar, she’s not about to admit that the policies she’s been advocating are failing. Here’s what she said (my emphasis).

If we don’t begin to hold our school personnel accountable for the biases and other factors that can contribute to that type of discipline dispensation, we’re not going to actually see any change in the system. So, we’ve been measuring and reporting school discipline disproportionality for many, many, many years. In fact, in the past several years the department has placed an increased emphasis on the reporting and created greater transparency just in the fact that we now display the data in a proportional way: the percentage of student population versus the percentage of student suspensions. …

We would like to say that that resulted in some positive change amongst outcomes that we’re seeing for students. But in fact it hasn’t. What we’re seeing is that discipline disproportionality has continued to rise in the state despite all of our efforts at increased transparency and using the bully pulpit and all of the other levers that are available to us as [unintelligible] and education leaders.

Continue reading

Virginia Democrats Govern in the Service of Dogma and Power

by James C. Sherlock

Karl Marx

Socialism and communism are so 19th and 20th centuries.  

Under socialism, individuals would still own property. But industrial production, which was the chief means of generating wealth, was to be communally owned and managed by a democratically elected government.

Socialists sought change and reform, but sought to make those changes through democratic processes within the existing social and political structure, not to overthrow that structure.  Socialism was to be based on the consent of the governed. Communism sought the elimination of personal property and the violent overthrow of existing social and political structures.

So what has changed for today’s progressives who have taken over the Democratic party, especially in Virginia? 

A lot. Continue reading

In 2019, 49% of Virginia’s Black 4th graders Could Not Read – Mississippi Offers Hope

by James C. Sherlock

Since 2013, Mississippi has made unprecedented, best-in-the-nation improvement in the academic achievements of its children starting as measured in nationwide testing. The improvements were especially pronounced in 4th graders who benefited directly from its 2013 literacy law.

I have done a deep dive into those results and traced them back to public policy.  There are actionable lessons for Virginia school districts seeking improvements in the literacy of their students. Mississippi has far better school literacy laws, and a markedly better Board of Education and education strategic plan than Virginia.  

Fundamentally, Virginia is going in a different direction than Mississippi in terms of child academic achievement because the Governor, the General Assembly and Board of Education want it that way. It is simultaneously going in a different direction in measures of child academic achievement. Continue reading

Roving Bands of Whites Steal COVID Shots?

Shocking News: People afraid of death will drive to get vaccines!

by Steve Haner

Call out the militia!  Roving bands of white people are rushing to Danville to steal COVID vaccines from more deserving blacks and Latinos!  That’s the big news according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, although it lacks the courage to write that headline directly.

The story dominates the print front page and the on-line paper, complete with a map (above) showing the distances these despicable Privilege Recipients are willing to drive to avoid hospitalization or death from a disease which everybody who reads the paper knows is only truly dangerous for People of Color.  Continue reading

Will Northam’s Equity Initiatives Actually Advance Equity?

by James A. Bacon

A reader has forwarded to me an email exchange between herself and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) regarding the implementation of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Virginia schools,

My correspondent received a polite response from “Constituent Services” thanking her for her query. Without addressing CRT directly, the VDOE representative mentioned a number of Northam administration initiatives regarding the teaching of history and implementation of culturally relevant practices. Then she wrote the following, which describes the Northam approach to K-12 education more clearly and succinctly than I have seen anywhere.

Our goal is to maximize the potential of ALL learners by eliminating the predictability of student outcomes based on race, gender, zip code, ability, socioeconomic status, or languages spoken at home. This will be accomplished through continuous reflection, cultural responsiveness, courageous leadership, compassionate student and family engagement, and curriculum reframing.

Continue reading

Podcast: How the General Assembly Has Changed

By Peter Galuszka

I haven’t contributed much to BR lately since I am slammed with non-Virginia work. I did manage to help out on a Podcast about how the General Assembly has changed the state over the last two years as Democrats have gained power.

This Podcast is produced by WTJU, the University of Virginia radio station. I do a weekly talk show on state politics and economics and, on occasion, work on Podcasts.

Joining me is Sally Hudson, a delegate from the Charlottesville area. She is Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Education and Economics. Sally studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford and is one of the youngest members of the General Assembly.

I hope you enjoy it.

VUU Gambles on Recruiting Hispanic Students

VUU President Hakim j. Lucas

by James A. Bacon

Although the appeal of Virginia’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) has been limited mainly to African-Americans, Richmond-based Virginia Union University, founded in 1865 to educate former slaves, is making a major push to recruit Hispanic students.

VUU President Hakim J. Lucas wants the student body to be 25% Hispanic within three years, reports the Richmond Free Press. If it is successful, it would become the first HBCU in the country to earn a federal designation as an “Hispanic-serving institution.” It would be the second such institution in Virginia, following Marymount University in Arlington.

HBCUs face an existential threat from other colleges and universities which are intensifying efforts to recruit minority students, often offering financial aid that less affluent HBCUs are hard-pressed to compete with. But Lucas thinks Virginia Union can make inroads with Hispanics because of their commonality with African-Americans as oppressed minorities. Reports the Free Press: Continue reading

The Great Unlearning

by James A. Bacon

The full dimensions of the COVID-related school closing disaster are coming into sharper view as Virginia school districts compile and report data from the 2020-21 school year.

Failing grades are up nearly 500% from last year at some schools in the Lynchburg area, The News & Advance has found through the Freedom of Information Act. Meanwhile, neighboring Campbell County Public Schools saw a 283% increase in Fs in the first quarter compared to the same quarter the previous school year. Amherst County Public Schools experienced a 72% increase in Fs.

Comparable numbers are being reported from Northern Virginia. Sixth-graders in Arlington County schools have shown an average GPA decline of 6%. The number of students failing at least one class increased 118%, according to ARL Now.

What the newspaper articles don’t report is that failing grades are soaring despite the fact that teachers are under unprecedented pressure to not fail students. Many school districts have issued directives to give students second and third chances to hand in late homework assignments. If a student receives an F, it may be an indication that they haven’t done any of the work and that they have interacted minimally with the teacher. Many students turn off their video and audio, there is no sanction for doing so, and teachers frequently don’t know if they are following the class or not. Continue reading

Private Sector Screws Up Vaccine Dispersal

By Peter Galuszka

For more than a year, there has been a stream of criticism of government handling of the COVID vaccine.

On this blog, there has been a relentless pounding of Gov. Ralph Northam for his role in trying to navigate the pandemic that has so far killed more than 500,000 Americans. This is a far greater number than all of U.S. troops killed in World War II.

Now, two members of Congress, both moderate Democrats, are raising questions about the current system of providing vaccines. The private sector has a lot to answer for.

According to U.S. Rep. Abigail D. Spanberger (7th District) and Rep. Elaine G. Luria (2nd District), the current system is confusing, as large pharmacy companies CVS and Walgreen try to handle giving people protective shots.

Of special note is their concern that the current system favors the rich over the poor. In their letter to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers fort Disease Control and Protection, they wrote:

“Unfortunately, the complicated array of programs has caused significant confusion and frustration for public health officials and the general public. The varied eligibility requirements and appointment-making procedures favor the technologically savvy and well-resourced who can navigate the different systems. Retail pharmacy partners have been reluctant to coordinate their outreach and appointments with state public health officials’ priorities, meaning vulnerable individuals patiently waiting their turn according to health department guidelines could be passed over.’

Continue reading

WaPo Nabs Polk Award, Is Pulitzer Next?

Ian Shapira

By Peter Galuszka

How ironical.

Our esteemed Jim Bacon has been on a tear in recent months writing about media coverage of the problem of systemic racism at the Virginia Military Institute.

Of special interest to Jim is the reporting of Ian Shapira, a Washington Post reporter who has been digging into the VMI. After his stories were published, the superintendent of VMI retired and an inquiry was launched.

Jim doesn’t like what the Post and Shapira have done. Some of Jim’s headlines go right to the jugular including “VMI Update: The WaPo Makes Another Sleazy Insinuation” and  “WaPo Ratchets Up Assault on VMI.”

At one point, Jim made this observation: “Polish up that Pulitzer. It looks like The Washington Post is vying again for the big prize in journalism”

Well, guess what happened? Shapira and the Post have won a George Polk award for their VMI coverage. The citation reads thusly: Continue reading

Did UVa Stack the Deck in Its Lawn Selection Process?

by James A. Bacon

It is deemed a great honor to be one of the 47 fourth-year students at the University of Virginia awarded a residence on the Lawn, Thomas Jefferson’s architectural masterpiece and World Heritage site. A committee of 60 students selects the residents from a pool of applicants, in theory based on their record of “unselfish service and achievement in their respective fields of activity and academics.”

But when the Cavalier Daily published an article yesterday providing the racial/ethnic background of the individuals who were offered a spot on the Lawn next year, it didn’t emphasize their accomplishments. Rather, drawing from data provided by Dean of Students Allen Groves, the article focused on the increased demographic “diversity” of the Lawn residents.

“Students of Color” received nearly 60% of the offers this year, compared to only 30% last year, reported the student-run newspaper.

The dramatic one-year shift in the racial/ethnic composition of Lawn residents raises the question of whether race and ethnicity has become an explicit but not-stated-publicly criteria for selection. Continue reading

The Democratic Coalition’s Conflicts of Interest Cause Much Political Scrambling

by James C. Sherlock

It is tough to be a Democratic politician in Richmond or Washington. Now that they govern, they find it one big game of coalition whack-a-mole.

I have written today of the conflicts between the interests of teachers unions and those of parents playing out in the Virginia General Assembly. That vital Democratic suburban women demo is in play.

That is the tip of the iceberg for Democrats. They have assembled a coalition whose interests are fundamentally opposed. Those fissures are only fully exposed when they have unfettered governance, which they have now both in Richmond and Washington.

The only things they seem to agree on are big government, free money and government regulation and control of nearly everything except their own interests.

After that, it gets dicey. Continue reading

Holding Richmond Public Schools Accountable — Part I

by James C. Sherlock

We have discussed here the failures of the City of Richmond Public Schools (RPS) in educating its economically disadvantaged children, as well as the abysmal performance of Black children in its schools.  

I intend to help readers understand how it manages to fail repeatedly even with major federal funding as guardrails and state oversight officially in place.

Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) such as RPS and its schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet state academic standards.

It is useful to drill down into the details of that program so that readers can understand how every school district in Virginia is supposed to plan and execute the education of poor kids to improve their chances of success.

The question that will remain when I finish will be accountability.  

How does a system like the Richmond Public Schools continue to submit similar paperwork every year and every year fail to meet its stated goals? Where is the accountability? Why do the people of Richmond put up with it?  Continue reading