Regulatory Capture of the Board of Education by Virginia’s Schools of Education

By James C. Sherlock

Virginia’s schools of education have for years captured Virginia’s oversight of their profession.

With that power they have reinvented the entire nature of schools and the professional standards for the education and professional conduct of schoolteachers in the Commonwealth.

In the process, they have brought both the schools and schoolteachers to near ruin.

Let’s examine the source of that power.

Under the powers delegated to it by the General Assembly and by federal laws and regulations, the Board of Education promulgates and adopts regulations concerning educational programs in such areas as:

  • licensure of school personnel;
  • special education programs;
  • accreditation standards;
  • rules for approving teacher training programs;
  • fiscal reporting; and
  • maintenance of student records.

The Bylaws of the Board of Education define the Committees and Advisory Committees of the Board of Education.

Section 2. Advisory Committees. Advisory committees may be created by the Board for special purposes to include, but not be limited to, federal and state-mandated committees. An advisory committee shall be composed of persons who represent the views and interests of the general public and who are known to be qualified to perform their duties.


The Board of Education has a standing Advisory Board on Teacher Education and Licensure (ABTEL) which provides it advice and drafts state regulations on those subjects.  The members are appointed by the Board.

The Advisory Board on Teacher Education and Licensure (ABTEL) advises the Board of Education and submits recommendations on policies applicable to the qualifications, examination, licensure and regulation of school personnel including revocation, suspension, denial, cancellation, reinstatement and renewals of licensure, fees for processing applications, standards for the approval of preparation programs, reciprocal approval of preparation programs and other related matters as the Board of Education may request or the Advisory Board may deem necessary.

The Board has four members who ”

…shall be faculty members in teacher preparation programs in public or private institutions of higher education, who may represent the arts and sciences.

By something other than coincidence, those four faculty members wound up in every leadership position on the advisory board, controlling agendas and outputs:

  • The Chair of ABTEL “Citizen at Large” (no kidding, that is the title assigned): Dr. Nancy A. Bradley, Associate Director, Office of Academic Programs Virginia Tech School of Education;
  • The Vice Chair: Dr. Andrew Daire, Dean, School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University;
  • The Chair of the Licensure Committee: Dr. Eric D. Moffa, Assistant Professor of Education Washington and Lee University;
  • The Chair of the Teacher Education Committee: Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Schimmoeller, Director of Education and M.A.T Randolph College.

I give you regulatory capture.

VCU. The Dean of the VCU School of Education, Andrew P. Daire, Ph.D. is perhaps the most progressive voice in education in the state.

He was appointed by Governor Northam to be co-chair of the Culturally Relevant and Inclusive Education Practices Advisory Committee, which was established by the General Assembly during the 2020 session.

The Advisory Committee shall provide recommendations for the issuance of Board of Education guidelines for local school division staff, including teachers and school counselors, to offer age-appropriate anti-bias education to students.

Specifically, the Advisory Committee was charged by that law to make

  1. Recommendations to VDOE for consideration by the Board of Education during the 2021-2022 review of the History and Social Science Standards of Learning (that document, developed by Northam appointees, has now been reviewed and revised by the VDOE under Jillian Balow for approval of a Board of Education with a majority of Youngkin appointees);
  2. Policies and regulations governing teacher preparation programs; and
  3. Policies and regulations governing teacher licensure and professional development requirements for licensure renewal.

The Virginia Department of Education has founded the Virginia Tiered Systems of Supports (VTSS) Research and Implementation Center at the Virginia Commonwealth University Partnership for People with Disabilities (PPD).

Virginia Tech. You will be pleased to know that the school of education at Virginia Tech is

… a global catalyst for individual and social transformation through education, applied research, and advocacy.

As an aside, it also offers undergraduate and graduate teacher preparation programs.

UVa.  Virginia’s federally-funded Preschool Development Birth through Five program money has gone to the University of Virginia since 2018.

Be sure to check out EdPolicyWorks racial equity resources.

It’s Center for Race and Public Education in the South (CRPES)

… advances research that illuminates the causes, consequences, and potential means of ameliorating disparities in African American youth’s educational experiences and achievement.

Great goal.  We are waiting for that to kick in here in Virginia.

DEI. UVa’s school of education is also a good place to check out the impact of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).  The school of education’s Office of DEI:

… works to engage in policy, initiatives, programming, funding opportunities and professional development aligned with the diversity and equity goals of the School.

Then there is staff engagement.  You will be excited to learn that

Each month the School of Education and Human Development’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) will engage faculty and staff in learning focused on DEI.

So DEI bureaucracies at the schools of education like UVa participate in the oversight of both policy and faculty.   Faculty members then represent those schools before the Board of Education.

Bottom line.  You can consider all of that that when you are dismayed at the problems of Virginia’s schools we talk about all the time here, among them:

  • poor minority children had disproportionate learning deficits pre-COVID;
  • poor minority children experienced disproportionate learning losses during COVID;
  • learning environment chaos in the schools;
  • increasing stress for teachers, parents and students;
  • teacher shortages.

What you are about to find out in this series about Virginia regulations for teacher education, written as you have seen above under the control of the schools of education themselves, will make you take notice.

Teachers, did you ever wonder why so many of your credentials require post-graduate education in the schools of education?

All of those things have been subject to the policy preferences of the schools of education themselves for years.

For my progressive friends, Governor Youngkin can and has just changed the political makeup of the Board of Education.

He cannot change the policy preferences of the schools of education.  The new Board will have to figure out how to make progress despite them.

The Board can start by replacing the Chair and Vice Chair of ABTEL and the Chairs of its Licensure and Teacher Education Committees and their DEI minders.