Virginia Department of Education’s Manifesto on School Reopenings

By James C. Sherlock

I have only a brief experience as a middle school teacher in Fairfax County back in 1966/67 and several years as a volunteer remedial math instructor in middle school in Virginia Beach in this decade. I am not a graduate of a school of education.

So I have just read with interest,” Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020,” by the Virginia Department of Education.

The forward says in part:

“Through this document, we strive to offer guidance, technical support, best practices and alternate solutions as divisions prepare to continue providing instruction to all 1.3 million Virginia students under uncertain and evolving circumstances.”

Fair enough.

Unfortunately, the document reads like a thesis. It is 136 pages long and credits for the product 228 participants, a great many of which are PhDs, in a long list of task forces and advisory panels.

I urge you each to open and at least scan it online.

It is full of such impressively pedantic guidance as:

“Utilize Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and evaluate existing data to identify students most vulnerable to learning loss, design diagnostic systems to evaluate and monitor learning growth, consider utilizing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to differentiate instruction, and create flexible instructional/planning schedules to support vertical instruction.”

OK, Virginia’s teachers are on it.

Go to page 120 and look at


Go to page 126 – 131 and read


Go to page 132 – 135 and read


Virginians owe it to our children to read this document. It defies summation or even polite characterization.

Above all, it provides guidance much of which the authors absolutely knew, or if they did not they had no business being on the panels, could not be completed by school districts, schools, administrators, teachers and special staff before the fall semester that begins in August, or likely ever in the case of some of the guidelines.

While I don’t doubt the sincerity of the participants and thank them for trying, the product constitutes an immense and genuinely unreadable virtue signal. It appears designed as a manifesto, not a guide to actual preparations for school opening.

It literally contains blocks to check and space for notes about why certain blocks are not checked, usefully leaving room for self-criticism.

Most destructively, it sets up school and their administrators, teachers and special staff to be targets of complaints and inevitable lawsuits for things well beyond their control.

If further proof were needed, this work proves once again that America’s graduate schools of education are perhaps American education’s worst enemy

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20 responses to “Virginia Department of Education’s Manifesto on School Reopenings”

  1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    We are victims of Microsoft Word. The ability to construct 1000s of pages using cut & pasted, neatly outlined, indexed, cross referenced, and illustrated can, like human reproduction, be accomplished by totally unskilled labor.


    ” It defies summation “. Not true. MSWord will provide an automatic Executive Summary. It’s really good too. You could try it on this document. Saves a lot of reading.

  2. sherlockj Avatar

    I hate to see Bill Gates blamed for this work.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      The Gates Foundation is atonement– maybe not enough — and it will be dwarfed by the Zuckerberg Foundation, if the little pr!ck ever grows a conscience.

  3. CrazyJD Avatar

    While I deplore the name calling, a genetic fallacy, and the diversion, another of the irrelevancy fallacies, it’s hard not to agree.

    1. sherlockj Avatar

      Name calling? Irrelevancy fallacy?

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        He meant me

        1. sherlockj Avatar

          Then I stand steadfastly behind his comments. ?

          1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            Me too. Wait. Yes, his comments are printed on my tee shirt.

            The truth of my observations, however, is indisputable.

  4. Tom Banford Avatar
    Tom Banford

    It clearly sounds like a survey of the relevant literature. I am not sure what point sherlockj is trying to make. I can assure you based upon 20 years in public high school classrooms that the teachers and administrators will not have time to read any of it as they are too busy attempting to work out safe and reasonable actions for the fall in accordance with CDC guidelines.

    1. sherlockj Avatar

      Tom, read it again. I was pretty clear about the points I made. The fact that public school teachers and administrators will not read it was not the point of the exercise. It was a virtue signal. One meant to impress the Curry School of Education and, as a bonus, get individual schools sued.
      “Utilize Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and evaluate existing data to identify students most vulnerable to learning loss, design diagnostic systems to evaluate and monitor learning growth, consider utilizing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to differentiate instruction, and create flexible instructional/planning schedules to support vertical instruction.”
      is in the relevant literature, God help our kids.

      1. Tom Banford Avatar
        Tom Banford

        You say that it sets up schools to be targets of complaints and lawsuits which seems to be your main point outside of criticism of the document. My experience in contract law leads me to believe that most lawsuits will be based upon noncompliance with CDC guidelines as opposed to an extensive survey of relevant literature. I do agree that businesses and municipalities should anticipate lawsuits by their employees and / or customers.

  5. WayneS Avatar

    When Public Schools are Over-Administered

    Coming this Fall to a theatre near you…

    No, wait… …this turkey would have gone straight to video even without the coronavirus.

    1. sbostian Avatar

      A long time ago as a doctoral student in economics, I asked my advisor to approve courses in the university’s School of Education, as teaching appealed to me more than the “publish or perish” track. He refused, saying that the courses would ruin me as a teacher. His perspective was that when teachers started referring to themselves as educators, the qualify of education began to decline. I have long since stopped expecting a lot of valuable products from Schools of Education.

      1. WayneS Avatar

        I think your advisor was a wise man.

  6. LGABRIEL Avatar

    I am assuming that County/City School Board members and Superintendents will be getting this soon. It might be also helpful for them if they could see this analysis which would help put it in context. I plan on forwarding it to those school officials in my County and encourage my friends who I know are interested in the education of the next generation to do likewise.

  7. WayneS Avatar

    “Virginians owe it to our children to read this document. It defies summation or even polite characterization.”

    I think the 12 people whose photographs are on the second page of this horrible document should each be sentenced to read it aloud to an audience of 200 8-year-old students with ADHD… …or an equal number of hungry wolverines – their choice.


  8. LGABRIEL Avatar

    There are almost 300 names credited in the report or its various Committees as being contributors, although admittedly there is a lot of overlap with some people serving in 5-10 different capacities. None of them are listed as parent, taxpayer, or student although most contributors probably fall into at least one of those categories. The point being that this was the product of teachers and school administrators and academics. Although I may have missed it on my first read, I didn’t find much guidance for home-schoolers or that Home School Associations were included as contributors. If they had they might have caught the misspelling on Page 6. You can find it, it is on the top couple of lines.

  9. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Mr. Sherlock I appreciate you pointing this document out. I just sent it to every member of the Fauquier School Board. They need to read this. The graphic on page 14 spells it out clearly and simply. The essence of this document is very simple really. Equality vs. equity. The document calls for the redistribution of scarce educational resources/dollars. The document asserts that successful student subgroups will receive a lesser investment. Unsuccessful subgroups should receive a greater investment.

  10. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    I didn’t see any definitions. Normally, a plan that uses lots of terms defines the key ones. Absent some intellectual discipline, how is this anything more than virtue signaling?

    The photo of Northam on page 16 should be replaced by Northam’s medical school photo in blackface next to his “friend” in KKK garb. Darn, I forgot. Northam is a Democrat, meaning his past is to be ignored. A life full of mulligans.

  11. VDOTyranny Avatar

    Too many people promulgating from Ivory Towers

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