Category Archives: Uncategorized

Government Attacks K-12 Public Education in Virginia – Chapter 2: The Regulatory State

James Lane, Superintendent of Public Instruction under Ralph Northam

by James C. Sherlock

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) both runs its own virtual school and regulates that school’s competitors.

The Virginia way.

Mark Zuckerberg can only dream.

Virginia’s privately run, state-funded, multidivision online providers (MOPs) constitute the major competitors to VDOE’s own Virtual Virginia, its state-run virtual school.

Virginia law positions MOPs as a publicly funded option for parents.

Putting on its regulatory hat, VDOE is poised to ask the Board of Education to drive the MOPs out of the publicly funded market with regulations that significantly impact their business models and curtail parents’ incentives to register with them.

Pretty much of a two-for-one if you hate the thoughts of both:

  • public education funds going to efficient, nationally recognized private providers who educate hundreds of thousands of American children every year under this model; and
  • parental choice in education.

We know who we mean.

It appears this attempt will fail because of the results of the fall elections, but they may still be trying to slip it through. Continue reading

Jeanine’s Memes

from The Bull Elephant

Government Attacks on Parental Choice in Virtual K-12 Public Education in Virginia – Chapter 1: Teacher shortages

School teacher, pre-COVID. What was that? 20 years ago?

by James C. Sherlock

A great deal of the increase in demand for full-time virtual K-12 (FTVK12) education is driven by rising teacher shortages in the brick-and-mortar schools.

I am not talking about COVID quarantine or other illnesses, but rather endemic shortages. Jobs that cannot be filled. And may never be.

We have well-founded fears that we will never have the number of young people going into teaching that we have seen in the past because of the two-track attacks on the reputation and attractiveness of the profession over the past few years.

  • The job actions of teachers unions that are featured on the nightly news continue to trash the reputation of the profession;
  • Ed-school-trained Torquemadas sit on the state Board of Education and some local School Boards and occupy too many of the division superintendent and principal’s offices. They are relentless in their attacks on the consciences of teachers with traditional values. It is driving teachers away in droves.

Those wounds will leave ugly scars that will not go away.

Add to that the unpredictability and chaos that characterize many public schools in the time of COVID.

Did I mention that we don’t pay them enough?

Good luck filling those brick-and-mortar public school teaching jobs. Continue reading

Youngkin, UVa COVID Policy on a Collision Course

by James A. Bacon

The debate over COVID-19 policy rages unabated. Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin and Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares announced today their intention to challenge Biden-administration vaccine mandates through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, OSHA, and Head Start.

“While we believe that the vaccine is a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19, we strongly believe that the Federal government cannot impose its will and restrict the freedoms of Americans, and that Virginia is at its best when her people are allowed to make the best decisions for their families or businesses,” they said in a press release.

While Youngkin and Miyares were pushing one way, the University of Virginia was moving in the opposite direction.

In a communication to the UVa community, President Jim Ryan announced that the global spike in COVID-19 cases attributable to the Omicron variant had prompted him to take additional measures to prevent the spread. UVa is advancing the deadline for students, faculty and staff to get a COVID booster shot. The deadline — probably not a coincidence — is January 14, one day before Youngkin and Miyares take office. Continue reading

McDermid for Secretary of Administration

Lyn McDermid

The latest Glenn Youngkin appointment: Lyn McDermid as Secretary of Administration. Ordinarily, that is a low-key position. But, according to the press release, Youngkin is entrusting her with several high-profile tasks: revamping Virginia’s cyber-security system, fixing the Department of Motor Vehicles, repairing the Virginia Employment Commission, and the old chestnut, “root[ing] out waste, fraud and abuse.”

McDermid has IT credentials out the wazoo — most notably, she served as chief information officer for the Federal Reserve Bank between 2013 and 2020 — and she is highly respected in the Richmond business community.

There is one small but telling detail in the press release, which lists McDermid’s many affiliations by name, and mentions that she had served as chief information officer at an unnamed “Richmond based Fortune 500 company.” That company was Dominion Energy. Is Team Youngkin trying to distance itself from the company, which was the architect behind the Virginia Clean Economy Act and its goal of a zero-carbon electric grid? Stay tuned.

— JAB

This Could Be Interesting… Virginia to Get a “Chief Transformation Officer”

Eric Moeller. Photo credit: McKinsey & Company

by James A. Bacon

This evening Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin announced several new key appointments, including his chief of staff and deputy chief of staff. But it is the appointment of Eric Moeller, a partner at McKinsey & Company, as “Chief Transformation Officer” that I find most intriguing.

I don’t believe that the Governor’s Office has ever included anyone by that title before. The  press release from Team Youngkin does not specify what Moeller will be doing, but it doesn’t take much imagination to speculate that appointing a partner of McKinsey, one of the world’s largest consulting firms, is for the purpose of taking a close look at the organizational structure and business processes of state government.

Chopping regulations is one of those old saws like eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse” that Republicans say they want but is easier said than done. This is pure speculation, but perhaps Moeller will lead such an effort. Continue reading

Redistricting Now Final

Final Congressional District Map
Source: Virginia Supreme Court

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

The redistricting for General Assembly seats and those in the U.S. House of Representatives is complete. The Virginia Supreme Court issued its final order and approved maps on December 28, 2021.

There are some significant changes from the earlier proposed maps. For a discussion of the first maps released by the Supreme Court’s special masters, see my earlier post here.

The report of the special masters is a good example of civic education. They explain, in plain language, why “redistricting is a complex task, one that requires the balancing of multiple competing factors.” It is not a simple matter of dividing the state into X number of evenly populated pieces. One example of this balancing act can be seen in their treatment of the Shenandoah Valley. They made a policy decision at the beginning to treat the Valley as “an important community of interest worth preserving.” Thus, they avoided drawing districts that crossed the mountains. However, they point out “that comes at the expense of drawing compact districts, particularly at the congressional level.” Succinctly  put, “Tradeoffs are simply inevitable.” Continue reading

Jeanine’s Memes

From The Bull Elephant

How’d Virginia Do in “The Great Pandemic Migration?”

Glenn Youngkin was right. Yes, Virginia, we have a problem.

by Chris Saxman

Most mornings start with brewing a large pot of coffee, letting the dogs out into the fenced in backyard, and waiting for the papers to be delivered. Usually I can skim through the local old soldier, the Richmond Times Dispatch, before the coffee finishes brewing. But that first magical sip of morning hits with the opening the Wall Street Journal.

Ahh….the splendor of predawn America.

I read newspapers in reverse by taking the sections and rearranging them in order to read as many articles as possible before doing battle with the editorial section. The Sports section is always first. It’s like stretching before a work out — not legally required, but strongly encouraged.

SO. Wednesday’s lead editorial headline in the WSJ print edition really grabbed my attention:

The Great Pandemic Migration

Boom.

The online version reads like this:

The Great Pandemic Migration
Census data reveal huge shifts out of the most locked-down states.

As Sheriff Buford T. Justice would say, “That’s an attention getter.” Continue reading

It’s New Year’s Eve. What, Me Worry?

by Kerry Dougherty

When I was a kid, my mother said I worried too much.

“Consider the lilies of the field,” she’d say, taking a drag on a Pall Mall before paraphrasing Scripture. “They neither toil nor spin, yet the Bible says God gives them beautiful blossoms.”

“So cut it out, and just relax,” she’d say, as she stubbed out a cigarette and began to gnaw on her cuticles.

Anxiety came naturally to me. It was in my DNA. Like my parents, I worried about everything. I stayed awake at night fretting about communism, nuclear war and what I could do to make the popular girls like me.

I still worry. About big things and small ones. Instead of communism I worry about socialism, AOC-style. I also worry about my kids. My granddaughter. And whether my Welsh Terrier will ever stop biting us. Continue reading

The 2021 Election: Firing up the Base

Image credit: Virginia Public Access Project

Virginia’s electoral map favors Democrats. But according to this graphic from the Virginia Public Access Project, Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin did a better job of boosting turnout in Republican-leaning localities in November than his rival Terry McAuliffe did in Democratic-leaning localities. See the details here.

— JAB

Abortion, Black Women, and the Thirteenth Amendment

by Paul Goldman

I write today to put the abortion debate in its proper Virginia political, social, and legal contexts.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution banned not only slavery but also “involuntary servitude.” “While the general spirit of the phrase ‘involuntary servitude’ is easily comprehended, the exact range of conditions it prohibits is harder to define,” declared the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Kozminski. The decision in United States v. Shackney said the ban on involuntary servitude “was to abolish all practices … having some of the incidents of slavery.” One of those practices, I will argue in this column, was depriving enslaved women the right to end unwanted pregnancies.

Given sympathetic comments by the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority to antiabortion efforts in recent litigation, the nation’s top constitutional scholars say the Court intends to use the Mississippi case argued earlier this year to give state legislature’s wide new latitude to restrict “the right to choose” established by Roe v Wade nearly fifty years ago. The intentions of Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin and his allies, including Democratic Senator Joe Morrissey, remain to be seen. But it is difficult to imagine that the publicly proclaimed foes of abortion will miss this opportunity.

I believe that Governor Ralph Northam and the White Boys Club now running the General Assembly have a moral obligation to call a Special Session to stop such an effort. Continue reading

Is Virginia’s Higher-Ed System “Inequitable”?

Source: “Higher Education School Finance Inequity and Inadequacy in Virginia”

by James A. Bacon

State appropriations per student to Virginia’s four-year colleges and universities vary widely, ranging from $14,121 in FY 2019 for the University of Virginia’s College at Wise to $4,460 at George Mason University, according to a recent report, “Higher Education School Finance Inequity and Inadequacy in Virginia.”

Not only is state funding per full-time student lower than in most other states, argues the report, published by left-leaning Education Reform Now (ERN), state support does not appear to be linked to need, access, affordability, or success.

ERN’s social-justice critique of Virginia’s higher-ed system contends that state funding short-changes lower-income and minority students. Some points it makes are valid. Some are tendentious. Continue reading

Mask Mandates Causing Air Warfare

by Kerry Dougherty

Almost two weeks ago the CEO of Southwest Airlines, Gary Kelly, told a congressional committee that face masks were essentially useless as protection for airline passengers. He supported a repeal of the executive order that made face coverings mandatory on flights until March 2022.

“The statistics, I recall, is that 99.97 % of airborne pathogens are captured by the (high efficiency particulate air) filtering system. It’s turned over every two or three minutes,” Kelly testified.

Kelly added that masks “don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin.”

The CEO of American Airlines agreed, claiming that “an aircraft is the safest place you can be.”

The media was quick to point out, with undisguised glee, that Kelly tested positive for Covid shortly after testifying. Frankly, I don’t see the connection between Kelly’s likely head cold and the need for masks on planes. There’s no evidence that he caught Covid as a result of flying bare-faced. Continue reading

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Hat tip: Janice Woolley