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
Credit; McKnight’s Long Term Care News
by James C. Sherlock
The road to hell really is paved with good intentions.
The current Virginia State Telehealth Plan was published just less than a year ago.
The purpose of the Plan is to promote an integrated approach to the introduction and use of telehealth services in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
In 2020, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) created a process for the development of a Statewide Telehealth plan. To achieve this goal, a process was designed with multiple phases to maximize the engagement and buy‐in of stakeholders from across the state. Building upon the progress of the 2020 VDH and Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) led COVID‐19 Amplified Response‐Telehealth Workgroup, VDH convened 6 additional workgroups to bring together key stakeholders around the priority areas as addressed in HB1332 …
A partnership between VDH and VHHA. Stakeholders. Focused on priority areas addressed in HB 1332.
The goals of these workgroup sessions included developing consensus of workgroup members through a virtual meeting format and written survey methods for identified high priority level needs and strategies for flexible actions and lessons learned from the COVID‐19 amplified response; receiving feedback in a formal state process through public comment, identifying barriers and challenges in creating a statewide telehealth infrastructure, and establishing set goals for advancing the adoption and utilization of telehealth as a mechanism for meeting identified health needs.
Identified barriers and challenges. Established set goals. Six core strategies.
TOLES © The Washington Post. Reprinted with permission of ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION. All rights reserved.
by James C. Sherlock
The data offered by the Virginia Public Access Project in Money in Politics have long left a perception that privileged access to Virginia elected officials is for sale.
Perception matches reality. It is for sale.
No one denies that:
- a republican form of government is based on a rough equality of influence among its voting members;
- unlimited campaign contributions in Virginia and only ten other states secure privileged access to elected officials ; or
- privileged access brings with it the perception and perhaps in some cases the reality of undue influence on legislation and votes.
Some may think that large donations are only given to kindred spirits, legislators who favor the causes of the donors.
I am sorry to inform them that many large contributors give to each of two opposing candidates to secure influence on the winner. Or they give to the winner immediately after the election if they supported her opponent during the campaign. Or both.
What could go wrong in a system like that?
Yet, as Dick Sizemore-Hall reported earlier today, legislators from both parties have just voted in the Virginia Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections to sustain it. 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
Testimony of Arthur Purves, president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, at a hearing held by the Fairfax delegation to the General Assembly January 8.
Thank you for this hearing. I have five topics.
First, it was 19 degrees this morning, and we just had a 20-hour, 50-mile shutdown on I-95 due to snow and ice. You should claim victory in your war against global warming, withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and repeal the Virginia Clean Energy Act, which drive up the cost of living and replace reliable with unreliable energy. Solar panel production is not clean.
Why does Germany, a leader in clean energy, need a new natural gas pipeline?
The evidence for a climate change crisis is sketchy. For example, when I asked an employee who had worked at a ski resort for 32 years if the ski season had been shortened, the answer was no. For another example, Bangladesh flooding is the result of silt runoff due to deforestation, not rising sea levels. Continue reading
Legacy Public School, Ashburn, Va.
by James C. Sherlock
I have reviewed the bills on the subject of education filed in this session of the General Assembly. Interesting and important legislation there, no question.
As you might expect, most of the high profile legislation was filed in the newly Republican House.
I am listing only highlights here. I have not read each bill in full, and therefore I am not sure whether or not I support them. But I intend to track them. It should prove interesting to see how each fares.
- HB 319 Virginia Literacy Act; early student literacy, evidence-based literacy instruction, etc.
- HB 344 Public charter schools; applications, review and approval
- HB 346 College partnership laboratory schools; application and establishment
- HB 938 Public schools; evaluation & recommendations for certain current and proposed policies.
- HB 1068 Public elementary and secondary schools; curricula and instruction.
- SB 125 Public schools; regional charter school divisions.
- SB 275 Public school libraries; printed and audiovisual materials, selection, evaluation, checkout, etc.
There may be bipartisan support for at least some of these. Expansion of charter schools has some Democratic support in the Senate.
Then there is the Budget Bill developed by the Northam administration. The education components will draw a lot of scrutiny to both the money and the language.
by James A. Bacon
So, the University of Virginia bumped up its deadline for students, faculty and staff to get a COVID-19 booster shot to today, one day before Glenn Youngkin, a foe of vaccination mandates, takes office. In an interview with CBS19 News, UVa spokesman Brian Coy says Youngkin’s ascension to office was not a factor in the university’s decision making. “This is what we think is necessary to keep our community safe,” he said.
What factors did go in to the university’s decision making? That’s less clear.
“This variant does pose a unique challenge, but having everybody boosted and having everybody wearing masks we believe gives us the best opportunity to have a good semester and make this year strong,” Coy said.
Coy added that UVA will be monitoring case counts, quarantine space and hospital capacity to make any decisions, and said if UVA opts to enforce other mitigation strategies, those will be announced to the community by the end of this week. (My bold)
Ah. I see. UVa will be monitoring case counts, quarantine space and hospital capacity. By implication, UVa will not be monitoring actual hospitalizations or deaths, otherwise Coy would have mentioned them. Continue reading
Libby Prison on Cary Street, Richmond, circa 1865. Photo credit: Flickr
by James A. Bacon
As a parting gift to Virginia, outgoing Attorney General Mark Herring has overturned 58 opinions issued by attorneys general between 1904 and 1967 that supported racially discriminatory laws from poll taxes to the prohibition of interracial marriage.
“While these discriminatory and racist laws are no longer on the books in Virginia, the opinions still are, which is why I am proud to overrule them,” Herring said in a press release today. “We are not the Virginia we used to be, and in order to truly be the Virginia that we want to be in the future we need to remove any last vestiges of these racist laws.”
Herring’s action will have no practical effect — the laws supported by these opinions have all been overturned. But many African-American politicians and activists found solace in the gesture.
“Just like Virginia wiped racist, outdated laws off its books in recent years, so too should it wipe away racist, outdated legal opinions that supported and helped to implement those laws,” said Cynthia Hudson, a former chief deputy attorney general and chair of the Commission to Examine Racial Equity in Virginia’s law.
I have mixed emotions. I can see the symbolic value of getting these heinous rulings off the books. (See a compilation here.) We should slam the door on Virginia’s racist past. However, I find the fixation on the past a distraction from current-day injustices that have origins unrelated to historic racism. Continually dredging up ancient wrongs feeds African Americans’ sense of alienation, victimhood and grievance, and it perpetuates the false narrative of systemic modern-day racism. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
As the hours tick down on his term in office, Governor Ralph Northam is inclined to reflect upon his performance. In the limited remarks he has made in public, he has expressed few regrets and admitted to few mistakes.
As demonstrated by the thoroughly documented meltdown in Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores, his positive self-appraisal is laughably myopic. Northam is the worst education governor in modern Virginia history. Hands down.
But there is more to governing than education. One must consider the performance of the economy, the budget, taxes, public safety, quality of life, and health care, among other factors. Perhaps the most pressing challenge during Northam’s term in office has been the COVID-19 epidemic. Any judgment about Northam’s performance as governor must assess his leadership in dealing with that crisis.
Several Bacon’s Rebellion contributors, including myself, have been critical of specific aspects of his performance — testing, vaccinations, school shutdowns, mask mandates, protecting nursing homes, etc. But, then, it’s easy for pundits to criticize. We weren’t the ones who had to make tough calls in the face of incomplete, evolving, and often conflicting data. Every governor was groping in the dark. No governor amassed a perfect track record. At the end of the day, we should ask, how well has Virginia fared in the pandemic compared to the other 50 states? Continue reading
by James C. Sherlock
There was plenty of VDOE-computed “capacity” in Richmond Public Schools (RPS) to accommodate out-of-district students for purposes of their being taught by the leading MOP provider.
(MOP’s are the privately-run, state-funded “Multidivision Online Providers” of educational services which are a legal option for parents of Virginia school kids.)
Then RPS suddenly cancelled its long-standing contract with that provider, eliminating that artificial “capacity.”
RPS never laid eyes on those students.
It registered them, got the state share of direct aid to education money that follows the students, turned the kids over to the provider, paid the invoices and kept the difference. This is a financial shell game required by the state. Continue reading
New board emails, texts reveal “embarrassing” politics with “bonus points”
by Asra Q. Nomani
In fall 2020, Fairfax County, Va., school board members said the quiet part out loud.
As school district officials engineered race-based admissions changes to America’s No. 1 high school, to increase the numbers of Black and Hispanic students, school board member Abrar Omeish sent board member Stella Pekarsky a text, saying: “I mean there has been an anti asian feel underlying some of this, hate to say it lol,” using the acronym for “laughing out loud.”
Pekarsky, now the board chair, responded: “…I always told people that talking about TJ is a stupid waste of tome [sic].”
Omeish answered: “Of course it is…They’re discriminated against in this process too.”
The messages are part of months of emails and texts made public in a federal lawsuit by Coalition for TJ, a grassroots parent group, against the Fairfax County School Board, alleging anti-Asian racism in the new admissions policy to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, ranked America’s No. 1 high school by U.S. News and World Report. Pacific Legal Foundation is representing the Coalition for TJ, and has carried the mantle courageously for parents in New York City, waging a similar battle to protect merit-based education. Our Coalition for TJ parents are inspiring folks with names like Suparna, Hemang, Glenn, Helen, Harry and Yuyan — all with complicated stories of overcoming adversity in their lives. Continue reading
by Kerry Dougherty
For the first time since the pandemic began, a news bulletin that Gov. Ralph Northam was holding a press conference yesterday didn’t fill me with dread.
Four days left in his term. How much damage could he do?
In the past we never knew which civil liberties would be thrown into the wood chipper by the governor who never admits he’s wrong.
Any time infections rose, we knew with certainty that Northam would flail about, instituting new rules that would have absolutely no impact on the trajectory of the virus.
Cases rose, and cases fell. It mattered little if Virginians were sitting on beaches, staying out past midnight or wearing state-mandated face diapers. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
State Senator Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, has proposed legislation to make parole available to even the most violent offenders, including those who were given shorter sentences due to the lack of existence of parole at the time they were sentenced. The proposal includes a bill to make parole available to all types of offenders at all ages (SB 112), a bill to make parole available to all offenders who committed crimes as juveniles (SB 110), and a bill to make parole available for people who committed crimes before age 21 (SB 109).
Legislation making parole available to offenders of all ages was proposed but not approved in 2021. It might pass the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate this year, but is very likely to die in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates. So SB 112 is likely to die.
Senator Morrissey’s other bills, aimed at paroling more youthful offenders, have better prospects for passage, but still have a good chance of being defeated. Continue reading
by Emilio Jaksetic
On January 6, 2022, Attorney General Mark Herring issued an advisory legal opinion in which he concluded that the Virginia General Assembly cannot rescind its January 2020 decision to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
What is amazing about Herring’s advisory opinion is its reliance on one passage of the Supreme Court decision in Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433 (1937), while failing to address a later passage in that decision that renders his advisory opinion irrelevant and nugatory.
Herring quotes the following passage from Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. at 450: “Article V, speaking solely of ratification, contains no provision as to rejection. Nor has the Congress enacted a statute relating to rejections.”
Herring fails to mention or address the following passage from Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. at 452: “We have held that the Congress in proposing an amendment may fix a reasonable time for ratification. Dillon v. Gloss, 256 U.S. 368. There we sustained the action of the Congress in providing the proposed Eighteenth Amendment that it should be inoperative unless ratified within seven years.” Continue reading