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.


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28 responses to “Regulatory Capture of the Board of Education by Virginia’s Schools of Education”

  1. It appears VT’s Nancy A. Bradley has NEVER taught, EVER! [unless i missed something in my research]…….so someone who has ‘studied’ teaching is setting the agenda for our teachers…… i guess watching every Tom Brady football game makes you a great QB and/or coach.

  2. James McCarthy Avatar
    James McCarthy

    Some facts; some opinions; much coded insinuations. A kinda meta story with little point.

    1. UnicornSparklesEnergy Avatar

      Try meaty article for those starved for info to keep education free and sane.

    2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      The point is that the schools of education have effectively regulated themselves for years while feathering their nests.

      Perhaps you did not get it, but I made it in a way that most could neither miss nor logically disagree with.

      If that is not a big deal for you, if you think it is appropriate, then you are one of the most pronounced small government men I have ever run into. And you are not a teacher.

      1. James McCarthy Avatar
        James McCarthy

        Like your article, more uninformed opinion. Actually, I taught German language to prep high schoolers. If you are truly disturbed about professional self-regulation, write about the bar association unions that control the state’s attorneys. Admittedly, I missed the logical gravamen of the article.

      2. YellowstoneBound1948 Avatar

        How can you stand it (this blog)?

        1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
          James C. Sherlock

          I consider the sources of the criticism and try to enjoy them.

      3. LarrytheG Avatar

        If you’re a teacher or a Principal or even a School Administrator listening to his drivel… I’m sure they wonder what’s happened to conservatism these days.

  3. UnicornSparklesEnergy Avatar

    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.

    Homeschooling increased by 56% in 2020-2021 as the parents of 59,638 school-age children chose not to send their children to public schools.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    Virginia school teachers are trained all over the country. Virginia higher ed – trains teachers for other states.

    Hard to make the case that this is a Virginia-only issue much less that Virginia is worse/different than other states Ed unless one wants to imply there is some sort of national cabal of wrong-doers.

    When Sherlock gets on to things that sound like conspiracy theories.. “deep state” and the like, he sounds like the Trumpsters , MAGA, and Tea Party folk.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      He makes a simple point that is all too common in Virginia – the lack of separation between the regulators and the regulated. The biggest example is the unlimited political donations allowed by Dominion to the General Assembly members who ostensibly regulate the monopoly power provider. This certainly does not happen (to the same extent) across other states. In a similar vein, having the leaders of the ed schools regulate the ed schools seems inconsistent with the independence theory for auditors and the audited.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        It’s an opinion for sure but I do not think a valid one – just for Virginia except for perhaps Dominion but not “ED”.

        This is just right wing stuff for the most part.

        They’re attacking most of the institutions these days because they think most all of them are in cahoots.. for bad stuff.

        We’ve always had institutions and they’ve never been pure as the driven snow – nothing new.

        And not near as terrible as claimed.

        90,000 teachers in Va and 3 million in the US and if you believe Sherlock, they’ve all been “indoctrinated” and co-opted by “ED”.

        not buying it, no matter how many words he uses in his tomes…

      2. James McCarthy Avatar
        James McCarthy

        Does not the SCC directly regulate Dominion?

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          yeah but they’re corrupted by Dominion donations?


          This whole thing about regulation is Conservative catnip.

          Not that there are not some places where it needs some attention but if you believe them, regulation is the devil incarnate and institutions like ED just as bad.

        2. DJRippert Avatar

          Not really. Their capabilities o regulate Dominion have been severely curtailed by the General Assembly. Steve Haner has written extensively about this. Beyond that, the members of the SCC are appointed (and potentially reappointed) by the General Assembly.

    2. James McCarthy Avatar
      James McCarthy

      And the author did not quote Elon Musk, renowned authority who speaks with equal ignorance on all topics. Was this piece about an undiscovered conspiracy??

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        …. a possible suspected conspiracy… they’re all around us waiting to be discovered…

  5. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Lots of innuendo and insinuations and guilt by association, but, as one famous commercial used to ask, “Where’s the beef?” What policies or licensure regulations have these advisory boards recommended that “reinvented the entire nature of schools and the professional standards for the education and professional conduct of schoolteachers in the Commonwealth”?

    We know the chairs of these advisory subcommittees; who are the other members? And, by the way, this is just an advisory committee. The Board of Education makes the final decision.

    One minor correction. Jillian Balow has not “revised” the History and Social Studies Standards. At her recommendation, the Board of Education has delayed their adoption, pending further review.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Keep reading, Dick. It is a series.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        It’ll get worse.

    2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Keep reading, Dick. It is a series.

    3. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      “The Board of Education makes the final decision.” Comforting. The Board appoints the members of ABTEL – to get regulations they want. Which makes the question about who else is on ABTEL irrelevant.

      You know the chairs of the committees control the agendas and outputs of its two committees. You know that the chair and vice chair are in charge, I have shown that all four of the leaders of ABTEL have been Ed school faculty for years.

      You know all of that and are talking with your heart, not your head.

      1. James McCarthy Avatar
        James McCarthy

        And….so what? Is there a point or only a conjecture concluding some nefarious purpose? Clearly, y’all seem to be convinced of something; share it, please.

        1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
          James C. Sherlock

          Look how excited you are. This is a series. I will get to all of your questions.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            a series on suspected nefarious conduct by people you don’t trust?

            Indeed… you check all the boxes here for Conservatives these days.

            There are 3 million teachers in the US and the vast, vast majority of them are good people who do exceptionally important work yet you folks can seem to do nothing but impugn them and the institution of public education.

        2. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Deus ex machina. Don’t worry, the hero won’t fall from the cliff face. He’ll walk through the ranch house door in the beginning of the next episode….

          You just know this is headed to the Florida model.

      2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        It would be relevant, and revealing, what proportion of the subcommittee membershships were made up of actual teachers, as opposed to academics.

  6. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.” -Maria Montessori, educator (31 Aug 1870-1952)

    Well, if we eliminate the job… success!

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