General Assembly Education Bills – What is Missing?

Speaker Eileen Filer-Corn

by James C. Sherlock

This is one of a series of regular a weekly updates on bills in the 2021 General Assembly that will affect education. I will discuss some the newly filed education bills tomorrow. After that, health care and health insurance.

What is missing so far in educational legislation is more important than what has been introduced.  Some examples follow.

Colleges and Universities

  1. No bill addresses the devastating results of the college free speech survey reported in this space and requires adoption of University of Chicago principles for free speech by state supported colleges and universities.
  2. No bill restricts state-supported colleges and universities from educating students from China and Iran in science and technology. What could go wrong?
  3. No bill stops the headlong expansion and reduces the current size of administrative bureaucracies in Virginia’s state-supported colleges and universities to reduce overhead costs and improve general efficiency. The first step would be to get a handle on the size of the problem with a JLARC report. Administrator per student, administrator per teaching position in each school and administration costs would be good measurements to have when considering legislation. Find out what those numbers are and direct the state-appointed Boards of Visitors to cut those costs by ten percent a year for three years. Then have JLARC report if they are even missed.

K-12 Education

  1. No bill or budget amendment so far addresses mitigation, measurement and remediation of COVID-related learning losses. Remote learning has taken the easily predictable and well documented highest toll on Virginia’s most disadvantaged students. Democrats, in the thrall of the educational left, are uninterested. I have written of the problems, but that was hardly the first warning flag. There has been plenty of time for legislative initiatives. I have some hope of seeing the budget amendment I have recommended to fund year-round schools, but I am still surprised and disappointed to see no evidence that the General Assembly understands the critical nature of the problem. Compared to this, the legislation that is in the hopper is small ball indeed.
  2. No bill establishes state-wide grading standards to roll back the Albemarle County “homework, attendance, class participation and test scores shall not affect grades” travesty and prevent its spread.
  3. No bill requires the Department of Education to maintain and administer the SOLs this year and going forward to offer a proven, standardized method of evaluation of educational progress. It is hell-bent to shift to local evaluations instead, which will have no comparative value whatever.
  4. No bill requires the Department of Education to abandon the path that it is on to eliminate competition for advanced programs based on achievement. There is no indication of whether the GA has an opinion on whether testing should be used for assessment of entry into magnet schools and other advanced programs.
  5. No bill protects Asian-American children from being discriminated against in Department of Education policy. Where do Democrats stand on this? Perhaps we should ask Secretary Qarni.
  6. No bill strengthens the performance standards and eases the current restrictions on the establishment and operation of charter schools. The Loudon NAACP requested charter schools in that district.  Crickets in the General Assembly. That shows the dominant influence of left-wing educational dogma vs. the NAACP in Virginia Democratic politics.
  7. No bill strengthens state oversight of the state’s worst performing schools for black children. Just more money. No Democratic interest in how it is spent.
  8. No bill bans threats of strikes by school employees. Strikes themselves are banned, but we learned last summer and even now that strike threats work even so. Again, when it is teachers unions vs. kids, bet on the unions in a Democratic-controlled state.

Republican legislation attempts proved to be dead letters in this General Assembly last year and likely will again this year. So education legislation is effectively up to the Democrats.

Elected representatives in a republican form of government are supposed to know and take action, because parents can’t be expected to keep track of the revolutionary changes underway.

There is absolutely no lobby for the best interests of students to contest the powerful ones representing the interests and policy preferences of the educational establishment, which more often than not conflict with interests of students.

Part of the problem is public corruption. We countenance this imbalance of political influence by permitting unlimited campaign donations, Virginia’s political original sin. The unions pour money in. What are the kids going to do? Lemonade stands?.

Part of the problem is ignorance on the part of the General Assembly of what is actually going on in education policy and its potential for devastation of the schools.

We can see the coming crisis in K-12 from a combination of extreme losses of qualified teachers and parents pulling their kids out of the public schools. I predict the shortage of qualified teachers coming in the next couple of years will drive everything else including exacerbation of student migration to other educational options. A self-perpetuating cycle of collapse.

I suspect alternate excuses for those easy-to-predict occurrences are already formulated by the educational left.

For Democrats, the solution will mean more spending, not better policy.

Spending won’t keep teachers who are driven away by leftist policies that bring with them disincentives to teaching that already exist in some school districts in Virginia and are by evolving policy destined for them all.

These include:

  • profoundly insulting teacher cultural re-education programs;
  • classroom chaos from inability to enforce discipline;
  • the lack of enforceable educational progress standards that brings with it an inability to inform parents and motivate students with grades leading to what are effectively social promotions that will in turn create very large mismatches of skills in single classes and “lost” students;
  • the inability to enforce homework and attendance requirements;
  • socially restructured syllabi;
  • personal “mentoring” that in actuality means monitoring for social attitudes; and
  • growing non-educational demands on their time in ever-growing numbers of pointless committees.

What teacher would want to work in that environment regardless of her politics?

The General Assembly will exhibit surprise and dismay when teachers leave in droves and existing educational and experience standards for their replacements dissolve in the face of shortages.

Who could predict such a thing?

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37 responses to “General Assembly Education Bills – What is Missing?”

  1. What about requiring diversity offices to openly state it’s metrics of success and then provide yearly reports on its effectiveness?

    Teachers are evaluated on the number of students taught or the amount of research dollars brought in. Admissions offices are evaluated on the number of applications received. Sports teams are evaluated on its W-L record. Fund raisers on the donations obtained. Why not these offices?

  2. Excellent summary of all the critical issues that are going unaddressed. What’s happening to our public schools is tragic. This massive across-the-board failure belongs to Northam, to the General Assembly, and to the media, which has reported none of this.

    We’ll have to document it as best we can. The SOLs are being watered down, so standardized tests won’t yield useful comparisons. One good metric of a dysfunctional system may be teacher turnover and teacher shortages. Student enrollment is another. It will be interesting to see how many parents send their kids back to public school when in-person teaching resumes and the pandemic subsides.

    1. sherlockj Avatar

      People will be brought in off the street with fewer and fewer qualifications to stand in front of classrooms. Count on it.

  3. Emilio Jaksetic Avatar
    Emilio Jaksetic

    Sadly, too many Democrats measure their “compassion” by the amount of taxpayer money they can spend, regardless of any showing whether the amounts they spend are well-spent or not.

  4. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    William & Mary will host Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for a Community Conversation on January 26 at 3 p.m. ET. We will discuss pressing issues related to the pandemic, including the rollout and impact of vaccines and the future public health landscape. Student Assembly President Anthony “AJ” Joseph will join me in posing questions related to the national surge in COVID-19 cases.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    So are the Republicans not able to file bills?

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      No, but they do sharpen teeth.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        One might think the GOP critters would channel some of the stuff flying around in BR…. no?

        They seem to think that Northam is responsible for the pandemic but even the GOP GA guys don’t seem to concur.

        Are the BR folks to the right of the GA GOP?

        1. sherlockj Avatar

          Just better informed.

    2. sherlockj Avatar

      They can, and should have.

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    Here’s what has been submitted so far:

    HB2090 School boards; establishment of the READ Fund and READ
    Kirk Cox
    HB2094 Public schools; Standards of Learning assessments. in
    HB2105 Early childhood education; quality rating and improvement
    HB2243 Home instruction and private school tax credit. in committee Cole/LaRock
    SB1196 Teachers and other licensed school board employees; cultural competency. passed committee
    SB1225 Broadband services; education. —- Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-Herndon) with support from co-patrons Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Midlothian), Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D-Midlothian), and Sen. Jeremy McPike (D-Dale City)

  7. ksmith8953 Avatar

    This is a short assembly. I don’t see any school choice bills and it seems to me that legislators, bi-partisan, would be interested in this since the local school boards are in charge of pandemic education, or not, and in many districts have failed both children and their parents. But then, school boards are so opposed to school choice. Maybe they should have less control over who goes to school and who doesn’t.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Home instruction and private school tax credit. (HB2243)
      Introduced By
      Del. Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun) with support from co-patron Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg)

      Home instruction and private school tax credit. Creates an individual, nonrefundable income tax credit for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2021, but before January 1, 2026, for amounts paid by the parent or legal guardian of a child for the child’s home instruction expenses or tuition for attending an accredited private school in Virginia. The credit shall equal the lesser of the amount actually paid in the taxable year for such costs or half of the average state standards of quality funding per student per year. The credit may be taken for instruction-related materials, courses, or programs used in home instruction or for private school tuition. The credit is available only to the parents and legal guardians of children who did not attend private school or were not home schooled in the previous year in Virginia. The credit is available for two years per child and can be carried forward for five taxable years.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Notice, there is no requirement to show if the student actually learned anything. Nothing at all like the SOL requirement for public schools, just take tax money and give it away… So much for “responsible” government, eh?

      2. ksmith8953 Avatar

        Larry, if you are an economically disadvantaged parent, this tax credit is useless and another example of elitist efforts to keep the poor from a good education, like those parents in Petersburg, my home. They have no choice, it is public schools or nothing.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          how is it useless?

  8. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Good job Captain. Very informative. Thank you.

  9. LarrytheG Avatar

    Here is BOTH Kirk Cox and Amanda Chases – opportunity to submit bills like Sherlock is suggesting.

    And I’d add one – that tax money CAN be provided to parents alternative K-k12 schooling, PROVIDED that they transparently provide academic performance restults AND they actually do perform better than public schools.

    I’d like to see Conservatives put their money where their mouth is on alternative schools to public education. All for it. How about it Kirk Cox?

    1. ksmith8953 Avatar

      Hurray for this.

  10. LarrytheG Avatar

    Was looking at Success Academies scores and they are good but they are not the only charters in NY, there are others that also do good and are cheaper. Success Academices, seem to cost 15-18k per student and the others 10-13K:

    That would be a significant issue for publically-funded alternative schools, I would think.

    1. sherlockj Avatar

      Partial information, Larry.

      The numbers you quote are what Success Academies spend in New York City, where all of the Success Academies are currently located. In the New York City School District, average spending per student is $21,980, so Success Academies are a bargain.

      In Virginia,
      – Arlington County Schools spend $21,682 per student.
      – Richmond City Schools spend $14,358 per student.

      Sharing just a single data point from 2019-20:
      – Minimum starting salary for teachers in NYC public schools is $57,845 (bachelor’s degree, no prior teaching experience).
      – Minimum starting salary, same qualifications, for City of Richmond public schools is $47,325.

      As salaries go up in each jurisdiction, the spread widens. As it does for principals, nurses, counselors, school psychologists, etc. The costs of non-professional labor are far higher in NYC than Richmond. And that represents only labor costs.

      So to determine whether Success Academies could operate schools in the city of Richmond at Richmond’s average spending per student with its offsetting significantly lower costs across the board than New York City, Success Academies would have to be asked to assess it.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Other New York academies on that same site showed much lower costs.

        MOST schools in Virginia spend far less than Arlington or Richmond especially those CIP districts that claim to do miracles with ED kids!

        We AGREE on the cost-of-living which is not always acknowledged in BR when discussing costs but back to the Success Academies and the School Digger website.. More than a few other Charter schools in New York do just as well as Success on academics and for thousands less.

        1. sherlockj Avatar

          You are factually incorrect, Larry.

          No charter schools in New York City do as well as Success Academies on academics as measured in the state’s standardized tests. KIPP is next best I believe, but not close to Success kids’ scores. Nor does any school district in the state of New York, including the richest.

          As for other districts having lower costs than Richmond, I chose Richmond because it is the school district measurably in most need of competently run charter schools to change the outcomes for its poorest students. The two they have currently are not in the same league as Success Academies.

          The Loudoun County public schools salary chart shows a minimum starting salary of $53,730 (bachelor’s degree, no prior teaching experience). That edges towards NYC. The NAACP of Loudoun County asked for an all black charter school as one of the conditions to redress “systemic racism” in Loudoun schools. If they get it, I hope they ask Success Academies to run it, don’t you?

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            I was looking at this:


            In terms of Richmond, they are an extreme case unlike most of the rest of Virginia.

            And I have posted dozens of schools in Va that do just as good as the Success Academices with ED kids.

            We agree on the cost of living and that really does invalidate comparing schools with different costs of living on cost unless you are going to normalize it.

            An apartment in Arlington is going to cost a lot more than an apartment in Danville…and that affects the starting salaries.

  11. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Banning Iranian and Chinese from STEM? Sure, if they are high security. Otherwise what jingoistic nonsense.

    1. sherlockj Avatar

      So you have concluded that China and Iran are not our biggest foreign national security threats and that they do not embed spies in the candidates they approve for overseas study. I’ll notify the State Department and the intelligence agencies. They will be relieved. They certainly don’t want to participate in “jingoistic nonsense” Peter.

  12. ksmith8953 Avatar

    In China, students take an exam at the end of 8th grade. They are then processed in three categories: less than 1 percent top universities, all other in career tech or what amounts to a not so good college. Since they have small families (no more than one child until recently was allowed per family), they can afford to send to US for high school. They are then eligible for American Universities. This is an economic issue, it becomes doable when you are not I. The less than 1 percent.

  13. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Democrats are pro-consumer unless the producers make major campaign contributions, such as the education industry. In that case, screw the consumer. Just keep sending us tax dollars for us to lavish on those who give us campaign contributions and shut the f#$% up.

    At least in Fairfax County, it’s quite common for foreign nationals to come to the County to enroll in the higher-ranked high schools. They live with one adult, who is not their guardian, flouting state law and local policies. Absent living with a parent or legal guardian within the school division, the student is supposed to pay tuition. Fairfax County School officials refuse to enforce these rules.

  14. LarrytheG Avatar

    On the student spy thing – I’d not be surprised that our own intel folks do some form of careful look-see on internet and cell traffic , just as the Chinese do for American folks spending time in their country.

    China also can and does deal with other countries to send proxies…

    I suspect our own professionals are on the job with this.

    1. Larry — you’re dreaming and have been watching too many TV shows and Movies! This is not done.

      The IC can’t even keep up with background checks on those being hired by the 18 different agencies [a new one was just added this past week].

      That’s why so many college researchers are ‘associated’ with the CCP and PLA. Only under this administration is the FBI going after them.

      Hell — congressmen don’t even do background checks on their mistresses nor interns nor drivers.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        IC, CCP, PLA… alphabet soup?

        can we speak ENGLISH? 😉

        1. IC = Intelligence Community
          CCP = Chinese Communist Party
          PLA = People’s Liberation Army [China’s military]

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        thanks for the gobbly gook definitions.

        well geeze… if this Congress and POTUS did not allocate enough resources, then it must not be a problem, eh?

    2. sherlockj Avatar

      Actually, they don’t, Larry.

      American intel agencies need a warrant for domestic surveillance, even of foreign nationals that use American communication networks. And you surely don’t expect agents of foreign governments to use the internet and cell phones to communicate.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Jim – that’s the theory… in the not-too-distant-past, we KNOW they did not… and I would not be shocked at all to hear they still don’t.

        In terms of “communication” of foreign agents – yes.. they will use internet and cell but they encrypt… no problemlo.

        But are you really advocating kicking them all out?

  15. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Sherlock. You are assuming points I never made. I mean, if a Chinese or Iranian grad student is worked on an advanced medical device or therapy, what’s wrong with that?

    1. sherlockj Avatar

      Peter, you offered a general statement:
      “Banning Iranian and Chinese from STEM? Sure, if they are high security. Otherwise what jingoistic nonsense.”

      To which I offered a general reply. “So you have concluded that China and Iran are not our biggest foreign national security threats and that they do not embed spies in the candidates they approve for overseas study”.

      After which you changed the subject and offered an absurd and very specific conclusion – an attempt at reductio ad absurdum – in an attempt to challenge my general reply.

      My answer is yes, I certainly object to “a Chinese or Iranian grad student working on an advanced medical device or therapy.” The transfer of highly valuable intellectual property to this nation’s strategic enemies is bad public policy.

      Your position is that this nation’s enemies should be welcomed to our universities for all but highly classified projects.

      That signals that you do not believe education of “students” from those nations in foundational mathematics and sciences and advanced technology development in both national security technologies and highly valuable commercial technologies represents a threat to the United States.

      Please tell me if I have the last paragraph above correct. If so, I very thoroughly disagree with you, and please take your “jingoist” comment and stuff it. If not, what then do you mean?

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