J.D. Vance, the “Childless Left” and the Commonwealth of Virginia Education Elite

by James C. Sherlock

J. D. Vance, the author of the acclaimed biographical work “Hillbilly Elegy,” is a candidate for the Republican nomination in Ohio to replace retiring Republican Senator Rob Portman.

I haven’t studied that Senate race, and don’t have a favorite, but Mr. Vance has raised an issue for our time.

He has last week called out “the childless left” for their lack of “physical commitment to the future of this country.” From the N.Y. Post:

“The left isn’t just criticizing our country … it’s trying to take our very sense of national pride and national purpose away from us,” he said, blaming figures such as Vice President Kamala Harris, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, along with AOC, for stoking “cultural wars.”

“Harris has called herself the “momala” of her two grown stepchildren, Cole and Ella Emhoff.  Booker, Buttigieg, and Ocasio-Cortez have no children.”

“Vance offered a startling solution to what he called the “civilizational crisis”: extra voting power for parents.”

“The Democrats are talking about giving the vote to 16-year-olds,” Vance said.”

“Instead, he said, “Let’s give votes to all children in this country, but let’s give control over those votes to the parents of the children.”

“Doesn’t this mean that parents get a bigger say in how democracy functions? … Yes,” he concluded.”

I don’t agree with Mr. Vance’s broad prescription for calibrated voting rights.  I don’t think he does either. In fact I believe that Mr. Vance, a Yale Law School graduate, used that statement to bring public attention to the issue rather than expecting his specified outcome. But I think it may be appropriate to consider his point in a narrower context in Virginia.

Consider, if you will, the Virginia Department of Education and all of its tentacles.

When we look at the leadership of that Department and the Board of Education that sets policy for VDOE, what do we know about how much “skin in the game” key players have? Including the “expert” panels they assemble to help them draft policy.

The answer is that we don’t.

How about the education committees of the General Assembly?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Same questions pertain.

The brief biographies available on-line, even when they mention children and grandchildren, mostly do not specify whether those children went to public schools.

It is not just likely, but demonstrable, that some of the elected and appointed leadership in the drafting and passing of legislation and subsequent regulation of Virginia public schools are free to approach the issues with political rather than personal perspectives.

The only thing I suggest is that people who control K-12 education in Virginia be transparent about the specifics of their skin in the game.

Kids? Grandkids?  Do/did they attend public schools in Virginia?

Make the responses voluntary, but make that part of the format of biographies of each published on state websites. They can check “no response” if they wish.

And no, this is not “anti-gay” or “anti”-anything.

Transgender Del. Danica Roem, D-Fairfax, has been open about the fact that her boyfriend’s 9-year-old daughter attends public school and she has been active in that child’s school board.

Good enough for me.

And, yes, my kids and grandkids attended public schools in Virginia and I taught in two Virginia public schools.

See, that wasn’t so hard.

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11 responses to “J.D. Vance, the “Childless Left” and the Commonwealth of Virginia Education Elite”

  1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Let’s see. Of the candidates for the top offices in Virginia, the Democrats have a total of 9 children; the Repulicans, 10. So much for the “childless left”.

    McAuliffe–5 children, all now grown. 1 went to public school
    Youngkin–4 children; can’t find out where they go to school, but I would be willing to bet that they go to private schools

    Haya Ayala–2 children; public schools
    Winsome Sears–3 children; public schools

    Mark Herring–2 adult children; can’t determine where they went to school
    Jason Miyares–3 children; can’t determine where they go to school

    My delegate: Schuyler VanValkenburg, Democrat, teaches in Henrico Public Schools

    My daughter–product of Henrico public schools
    My grandkids–all home-schooled

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      All good to go for leadership in education policy.

      Good to go even if they were childless.

      Just something the public might benefit from knowing.

    2. LesGabriel Avatar

      Mr Sizemore, You listed all of the candidates who will be on your ballot in November EXCEPT One. Christopher Holmes is your candidate for the House of Delegates. His wife is employed as a teacher in the public schools and his 2 daughters attend public school. I’m sure the omission was purely accidental.

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        It was not intentional. I had not seen or heard anything about anyone running against him. It is good to know that whoever wins that election will have a personal connection with public education.

        1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
          James C. Sherlock


  2. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Ulcers are genetic. You get them from your kids.

    Johanna Mansfield Sullivan, childless left. Or, left childless. One or the other.

  3. Bruce at Liberty Avatar
    Bruce at Liberty

    Love it. Since I have been teaching in two different Nova school systems for the past 3 years, I would love to hear more stories from you about your years teaching, as well as any policy oriented, data drive, non-anecdotal education pieces you might have ideas about.

  4. Bruce at Liberty Avatar
    Bruce at Liberty

    How about educrat unions? I don’t know if Randi Weingarten has kids (being part of a lesbian couple doesn’t preclude it – her wikipedia page lists her wife, but no kids). I generally get the sense that the “teacher’s unions” are run by childless people.

  5. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    “Do/did they attend public schools in Virginia?”
    In New Jersey I don’t think they would ask if the candidate went to school in NJ. That’s a Virginian’s question. Did Sherlock go to school in Virginia?

    But I am receptive to Vance’s arguments. Also I’d say (per Jeff Bezos) the left thinks manufacturing can only be done safely on another planet. But I guess, until then, we can use any country that is not USA to make stuff.

    I got Virginia grandkids in case someone wants to write-in me. We brought the whole darn family from NJ, and I am having second thoughts.

    1. Brian Leeper Avatar
      Brian Leeper

      I attended public schools in Prince William County and Manassas, Virginia, and I have the stories to prove it:

      1)When I was in 10th grade, a kid showed up to school high on LSD. I never saw him again for the rest of the year.

      2)When I was in 11th grade, one Brian Davis killed one John Jenkins at a party in what was then known as Prince Cole Apartments. They got such a bad rep they later renamed themselves to “Old Centreville Gardens”.

      3)One student’s dad got a tattoo sanded off his knuckles by his dad. Yes, that’s right, dad used a power sander to sand the tattoo off, right down to the bone.

      Hmm, you know, perhaps attending public schools in Virginia, or at least these ones, isn’t anything to be proud of…

  6. StarboardLift Avatar

    Oh good grief, one does not need to be a parent to make sound policy decisions about education. Any more than one must be an MD to understand virus, vaccination, and variants.

    What I like about Vance’s provocative comment is the discussion it should prompt about the low birth rate in US, and the sentiment our Gen Z have toward bearing children. There is a whole lot of “world is too awful, irresponsible to tax the planet further, we have no future” thinking among even the young marrieds I know. They have houses filled with dogs and cats and no interest in children.

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