Loudoun’s $6 Million Equity Initiative

Eric Williams, superintendent of Loudoun County public schools, has proposed a 10.8% increase in the school system’s local funding. The sum includes a $6 million “investment effort” to address equity concerns, reports Loudoun Now.

The initiative would create a “supervisor of equity” position to report to the recently created “director of equity,” and create a team of a supervisor and three instructional facilitators to “focus on equity and culturally responsive instruction.” Two teachers will be hired to bring more diversity to gifted education programs. Five positions will  be empowered to reduce discipline proportionately (by race) and decrease use of hateful speech and racial slurs.

Here’s a prediction: That $6 million will be a total waste, as measured by educational outcomes.

Note: This chart corrects an error that appeared in the e-mailed version of this post.

The English Standards of Learning (SOL) pass rates for major racial/ethnic groups in Loudoun County and for the state as a whole appear above.

Here’s my argument: If you misdiagnose the problem, your proffered remedies will do no good. Indeed, given the perversity of complex systems like school districts, misdiagnosing the problem might do outright harm. I fear that Mr. Williams, guided by progressive zealotry, has totally misdiagnosed the problem, and I predict his “investment” of $6 million will either make no difference or do active harm to Loudoun’s black and Hispanic student populations.

Perhaps I am wrong. At least readers can hold me accountable by comparing the change in SOL results between the 2018-19 school year (the most recent year for which data is available) and of the 2020-21 school year (which will reflect the year in which the $6 million, if approved, will be spent.)

I’ll try to remember to make that comparison when the 2020-21 SOLs are published in a year-and-a-half. If I forget, readers, please hold my feet to the fire. (Hat tip: Rose Ellen Ray.)

— JAB

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11 responses to “Loudoun’s $6 Million Equity Initiative

  1. To lend some perspective, it should be noted that the $6 million is a small part (about 5 percent) of the superintendent’s request. About half of the request is for salary increases for teachers; another sizable chunk would be used to deal with the projected increase in students (Loudoun is the fastest growing locality in the Commonwealth.)

    That being said, it is not clear what problem this $6 million would be used to address. Except for Hispanics, the gap in pass rates among the demographic groups is much small than for the state as whole. As with most education initiatives, this one seems to be one more bureaucratic move that would add another layer of administration with an ill-definied mission. Hopefully, the Loudoun County School Board members will have enough sense to ask some hard questions regarding this proposal.

    • Don’t expect many tough questions out of this board. 4 new comers. Nobody is paying attention to this. Life is good in Loudoun, what’s to worry?

      https://www.loudountimes.com/news/loudoun-county-board-of-supervisors-installed-at-national-conference-center/article_d6173280-30a2-11ea-af9c-575a091bbf36.html

    • The pathway to hell is paved with an accumulation of small stupidities.

    • The county school system administration had consultants do an equity assessment of the school system and found a list of issues that supposedly shows how biggoted and racist the school system is. This $6 million supposedly addresses these issues at least in part. The contract to hire those consultants did NOT go out to bid despite being required to do so by VA law. The administration claims the company hired is the only company that could do the assessment and so the bidding process was not required. A few minutes and using Google proves that statement is false.
      I have no proof but it makes me wonder if these consultants were chosen because using them predetermined that the results would justify more money and power for the administration. Why they need justification baffles me since the county school administrators are allowed to do whatever they want to do anyway.

  2. SOL standards and tests have been revised, changed, watered down, and cut with Kool Aid. A better measurement would be SAT and PSAT scores. Every single student takes at least the PSAT. PSAT I believe is paid for by the county. Great snap shot by subgroups of where students really stand.

    http://www.doe.virginia.gov/news/news_releases/2018/10-oct25.shtml

  3. I agree, those national SAT and PSAT charts are far more informative that SOLs which are highly misleading, indeed outright deceptive, an embarrassment to the state.

    I suspect the progress shown in the SAT and PSAT charts are real progress, all the result of the new found teaching tactics achieving success in the outlier more rural districts that have escaped much of the rampant corruption festering in other districts, as discussed on this blog. If this be so, than it is the remaining corruption in more urban districts that must be addressed with real solutions as opposed to mo’ money aimed at rewarding special interests under current proposals.

    Hence, the current mo’ money proposals, namely “providing instructional supports and expanding access to the advanced courses and academic opportunities that prepare students for success in college” will, at enormous cost, fail to address today’s remaining “persistent achievement gaps.” If past be prologue, that is as sure as tomorrow’s sunrise.

  4. Fairfax County Schools have tried at least 20 such programs over the last 20 years. Tens of millions (if not more) for nothing. These programs make NO difference.

  5. What makes this worse is the contract for the equity study that supposedly told the county we needed to work on equity and supposedly justifies these expenses was a no-bid contract even though there are at least a dozen companies that could do this sort of study for the county school system.
    But I’m sure the school administrators would never pick a company to do an equity assesment because that company would give them the results they wanted to justify an increase in funding and authority for the school system administration. Yes, that last sentence was sarcastic.

    • Some wars never end because everyone in command are having too much fun and making too much money. So many die and vast amounts of public monies are wasted. The happens in all wars, including WW1 and WW2, for example.

      Here the same principles can easily apply. So Martin Luther’s Dream dissolves into a endless racket. This won’t stop until folks stand up and stop the racketeers and their racket.

      But here the politicians are in the racket too, big time, and there are elections to be won, and money to be handed out by some and collected by others in the crooked game.

  6. “Martin Luther’s Dream” is Martin Luther King’s Dream, obviously.

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