One bill that certainly is heading for Governor Glenn Youngkin’s desk is the increase in the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour as of two years from now. Both versions, House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 1, raise it to $13.50 for next year, with the $15 level kicking in a year later. Both bills are now out of their first committees.
It was a campaign promise. The Democrats in both chambers coordinated to make it their first bill of the year on both sides. Smart marketing. Soon the Republican governor must decide whether it becomes his first veto, with Republican legislators then having to vote to sustain it or not. Continue reading →
The Internet ad displayed above, produced by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, reached 12,000 Virginia teachers. The return on the modest investment has been impressive. Says Co-President Chris Braunlich: “Inquiries about alternative educator associations are pouring in. Some have already cancelled their union membership (taking $700 in annual dues with them).”
Clever Republicans have found a new tool for destroying our schools.
by Steve Haner
Let me get this straight. An elected member of the General Assembly comes to school buildings to give doughnuts to teachers in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week and the leftist Democrat agitators of the teachers’ union are “triggered”? They whine about her generosity to the gutless school management, which then caves to the weak-minded and bans any future acts of kindness?
Because of the federal workforce in Northern Virginia, Virginia in 2021 had the third highest percentage of any state of government union members as a share of total union members at 64%.
That is a higher percentage than Washington D.C.
Of all employees in Virginia, 22.5% worked for the government in 2021. Virginia is one of only seven states over 20%. D.C. is 29%.
The National Teachers’ Unions. Many Virginia teachers and support personnel belong to local teacher’s associations and unions that are affiliates of the two major national public school teacher’s unions, the National Education Association (NEA, 3 million members) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT, 1.7 million members).
Together they represent one in four union members in the U.S. The leadership of both are hard-core progressives.
Those national numbers of members are provided by the two unions and include retirees. In 2021 together they had about 3.6 million working members.
In the years 2019-21, the National Center for Education Statistics counted three million teachers in public schools and 500,000 in private schools. But the NEA and AFT represent large numbers of other school staff to account for the apparent discrepancy.
The two unions are overtly political and focused on social issues warfare.
In Virginia, the two national unions claim 45,000 members, which, since they both include large numbers of non-teacher staff, means together they represent significantly less than half of Virginia teachers. Continue reading →
AdvanSix Chemicals Plant Hopewell Virginia Courtesy AdvanSix
by James C. Sherlock
We don’t see very many industrial strikes in Virginia.
Regular readers know that I have often supported blue collar unions in the private economy.
My family roots are linked to Pennsylvania coal mines. Those miners’ strongest claims were for their own safety. Followed very closely by their demands for living wages.
I started researching the story of the current strike by unions representing some 340 workers at the AdvantSix chemical plant in Hopewell with a bias towards supporting the strike.
Safety. I still do support it to the degree that they are striking for worker and plant safety. They reasonably want the company to prevent excessive overtime of current employees under inherently dangerous conditions that require close attention to detail.
Hopewell employees tell stories of consecutive 18-hour shifts.
They want the company to hire more workers to solve that.
But that workforce is far more skilled — better educated and trained, and higher paid – than I assumed.
AdvanSix has been unable to readily fill the jobs that they already advertise. It is hard to attract skilled workers to Hopewell. The company may need to cut production instead.
Wages. I thought I would also support the union wage increase demands in excess of what the company has offered, but I have found that issue is complicated and the public does not have a clear picture of the differences. Continue reading →
This is addressed directly to Virginia public school principals.
You are compliant with current Virginialawwhether you report assault and battery to police or do not.
Bad law makes for bad policy.
Depending upon your school division, your requirements may vary. A lot.
In gambling, and this issue is a big gamble for you, if you don’t know who the mark is, it is you.
The current law on reporting of assault and battery to police reflects a poorly conceived and poorly written attempt by Virginia Democrats in 2020 to break what they called the “school-to-prison pipeline.” They made reporting to police conditional upon on-scene medical and legal findings – by you.
The Board of Education has done nothing to improve the matter. School divisions are all over the spectrum on what to do about reporting. You cannot carry out either the law or many of the school division policies without personal jeopardy. Continue reading →
When we talk of coal today, which is seldom, it is usually not treated well.
It is easy to forget (if some even know) that coal powered the industrial revolution, made America the richest nation in the world and fueled American war production that supported allied victories in both world wars in the 20th century.
Coal powered nearly everything starting in the early part of the 19th century. Power plants, trains, ships, and virtually anything else powered by steam used coal to boil the water.
The iron and then steel-making process depended then, and still does, on coking coal.
Coal — and the co-dependent railroads — played big roles in Virginia history.
Last week we had a story about a glut of open positions at Richmond’s City Hall and the difficulty in filling them. Lo and behold, the Richmond Free Press this week put out an article about the struggle to fill positions as the department responsible for filling those positions (Human Resources, aka HR) is upside down and employees are being told to reapply for their jobs. In case you didn’t read last week’s edition, the HR department has a lot of vacancies which makes it hard to fill any vacancy in any department. HR “is involved in every aspect of employee services, from hiring and retention to designing and administering classification, compensation and performance evaluations, overseeing employee data, handling employee grievances and providing training and development.”
Think of it like a clogged sink — it takes forever for the water to get through. And reporter Jeremy Lazarus notes that word has leaked out that everyone in the department was “told at a staff meeting in early February and urged to reapply for new positions that are being advertised, but that there were no guarantees they would have jobs. But three department employees have separately told the Free Press that effective Friday, all of the remaining full-time employees are to be laid off except for the three top managers….”
And one employee spoke directly but anonymously: “We’ve been told our department is the heartbeat of City Hall, but we’ve been left in the dark. None of us knows what will happen. Maybe we’ll all get rehired. Even so there will be fewer people left to do the work,” the employee said, as result of the transfers that have already taken place.
“I don’t know how everything we’re involved with will get done,” one of the employees said. “The city is fortunate. Instead of running for the exits, for the most part, everyone has stayed on and kept focused on the work. But it becomes so stressful when the reward for loyalty is uncertainty and worry. This is not what we signed up for.” Continue reading →
John Littel, Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources
by James C. Sherlock
To justify her insistence on keeping schools closed, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in February of 2021, “kids are resilient and kids will recover.”
She brought that same message to Virginia.
In one of the strangest choices in Virginia political history, Terry McAuliffe brought Weingarten to Virginia to campaign with him on the last weekend of his losing gubernatorial campaign.
Thus sealing his defeat.
It turns out, as it was always going to, that you can’t keep kids out of school for up to a year and a quarter, homebound, and expect all of them to “recover.”
I will call here those in K-12 during COVID school shutdowns Generation COVID (Gen C).
I wrote the other day of an estimate by a renowned educational economist that the 1.2 million Gen C kids in Virginia public schools would lose several hundred billion dollars in lifetime earnings because of un-repaired damages to their learning of all types.
His critics here argued into the night about study methodology, but none denied costs at some level would be there. They did not offer their own estimates.
John Littel, Virginia’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources, has the job of preparing his agencies for the lifetime social costs of those children. Continue reading →
That is the estimate published by Stanford’s Eric A. Hanushek of expected economic losses attributable to Virginia’s pandemic school closures.
Virginia students in the COVID cohort can expect on average 5.5 percent lower lifetime earnings.
History indicates that the economic losses will be permanent unless the schools get better. Just returning schools to their pre-pandemic performance levels will not erase the lost learning.
Recovering from the pandemic requires swift and decisive improvements to the schools.
That number is an estimate, but a scientific one. Dr. Hanushek has better credentials with which to make that estimate than perhaps any other economist in the world.
For perspective, the $312 billion present value of projected losses to the Virginia economy due to COVID school shutdowns represents about seven years of state revenue realized from Virginia sources in the 2021 and 2022 biennium.
Even the money pales by comparison to the developmental and emotional damage done to the children.
It should surprise no one. After the ill-conceived March 2020 closing of Virginia’s public schools by former Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam, it should have been evident that children would suffer academically.
We now know the extent of that damage to fourth and eighth grade students. Virginia’s Secretary of Education, Aimee Rogstad Guidera, put it aptly. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, she said, offer a “clear and heart-wrenching” statement on the “catastrophic decline” and a “predictable outcome of the decade-long systemic dismantling of a foundational commitment to excellence in education.” It didn’t have to be. What followed was a complete failure in virtual education. In the process, children fell victim to the self-absorbed politics of teachers’ unions and a complete disregard of the medical evidence from European countries that school-aged children were not at increased threat to contract COVID-19.
Moreover, the teachers’ unions saw the COVID-19 closing as an opportunity to keep schools shuttered while they lobbied for more pay and fatter school budgets once the pandemic crisis passed. A cynical assessment? Yes. But even when high schoolers in my county of Prince William returned to classrooms in 2021, teachers remained out, preferring to instruct kids virtually even as their students sat in segmented classroom space watching their teacher on a computer screen. It was farcical, and Virginia’s parents knew it.
Enter Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, who correctly characterized parental outrage in Virginia, not only for the elongated closure of public schools, but also for the “woke pandemic” spread by liberal school boards bent on indoctrinating children to be social justice warriors. Of almost no concern to these latter-day commissars was the performance of our kids and grandkids in reading, math, genuine history, and critical thinking skills. Mr. Youngkin listened to parents. In turn, they elected Mr. Youngkin because he pledged to realign educational priorities to those of parents, not woke administrators.
The governor is rightly indignant over the recent NAEP results and has committed to ensuring that Virginia children “have the tools and support structure to get back on track.” Tutors, particularly in math and reading, are needed for our fourth graders. Reading scores for this segment were dismal, tumbling from seventh to 33rd place among all states. In math, fourth grade students barely reached the national average.
…widespread feeling of fear, often an irrational one, that some evil person or thing threatens the values, interests, or well-being of a community or society.
Virginia’s progressive community is in moral panic over the refusal of school discipline outcomes to bend to their prescriptions for “equity.” Scientific surveys conducted by the state show teachers are scared of their students. In Virginia Beach.
To see that panic in action, read the comments on my article, “Why are Teachers Quitting? In Virginia Beach, It May Not Be “Mean Parents.”
Combative progressive comments offer a clinic on the subject.
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