By Nancy Almasi
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns had a real and persistent impact on our children’s education. Learning loss continues to be the subject of daily news reports, with SAT and ACT test scores at an all-time low. Overall, math and reading scores on standardized tests are at their lowest level in decades and the college admissions process was thrown into a tailspin when lockdown regulations made taking the traditional SAT and ACT tests difficult.
Colleges and universities are now pivoting away from standardized tests by making SAT and ACT scores optional when it comes to admissions. Virginia colleges and universities have been, for the most part, ahead of the trend:
- University of Virginia – Will make the SAT, ACT, AP, and IB tests optional beginning in the 2024-2025 academic year.
- Virginia Tech – Will make the SAT and ACT tests optional for admissions beginning in 2025.
- College of William and Mary – Has been test-optional since 2020
- Virginia Commonwealth University – Test optional unless applicants are applying for the Honors College program or the Guaranteed Admissions Program.
- George Mason University – Has been test optional since 2007 but has other requirements in lieu of SAT or ACT scores such as grade point average, the number of rigorous honors or AP classes taken, and extracurricular activities.
- James Madison University – No longer requires the SAT nor ACT scores for admission.
- Hampton University – This HBCU makes submitting standardized scores optional if the applicant has a minimum of 3.30 GPA or is in the top 10% of his or her high school class. However, a student who wishes to apply for a merit-based scholarship must submit SAT or ACT test scores.
- Hollins University – The small, private, liberal arts women’s college (and the author’s alma mater) is test optional.
by Derrick Max
In two weeks, the people of Virginia will decide on two competing visions for the future of Virginia. Will they elect a General Assembly favoring Governor Glenn Youngkin’s more freedom-oriented policy vision, or will they elect a General Assembly returning the Commonwealth to the statist policy vision of former governors Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam?
While much of the current debate in the Commonwealth has focused almost solely on abortion, the number of issues “on the ballot” in this election is much broader and ought to be more closely considered by voters. If readers want a deeper dive into these issues, links to the Thomas Jefferson Institute’s work in these areas are included.
Surpluses are on the ballot in Virginia.
Earlier this year, faced with an historic $5.1 billion surplus, Governor Youngkin and Democrats in the Virginia Senate reached a deal to cut $1.05 billion in taxes and allocate $3.7 billion in new, one-time spending. This $3 in new spending for every $1 in tax cuts is backward.
Budget officials in Virginia just reported that in the first quarter of this fiscal year, surpluses are continuing to be amassed in Richmond. Coupled with the official projections for spending and revenue for the next few years, the next General Assembly will almost certainly be faced with large cash surpluses. Continue reading
By Chris Braunlich
Subscribers to Netflix will soon see rate increases because of the Screen Actors Guild-AFTRA Hollywood strikes. Buyers of new and used cars will, as a result of the United Auto Workers strike, see prices go up as supply dwindles and costs rise.
The current spate of labor actions – involving more than 420,000 employees – is a response to higher inflation. However, it will also drive prices even higher, both through lost productivity and higher costs to pay for higher wages. Continue reading
Loudoun County parents pack a School Board meeting. Photo credit: Idiocracy News Media
by Ian Prior
For several years, parents in Loudoun County, Virginia have been clamoring for accountability, transparency, higher standards, and safety in their schools. They haven’t been getting it, and that’s why new leadership is needed.
The brunt of the parents’ grievances has been largely directed toward the Loudoun County School Board, which has been embroiled in several scandals that remain unresolved.
In October 2021, a male student at Broad Run High School was arrested for sexual battery and abduction of a fellow student. Only a few days later, it was reported that the same student had previously committed two counts of forcible sodomy on a fellow student at Stone Bridge High School. The male assailant, who had gained access to the female bathroom on account of his claim of “gender fluidity,” is said to have been wearing a skirt during the assault.
The anxious parents in Loudoun County have been demanding answers as to why a student accused of rape was allowed to quietly transfer to another school where he reoffended. The scandal prompted an independent investigation into the tragedy. The LCSB has emphatically refused to make the resulting Independent Review available to the Loudoun parental community. Continue reading
By Barbara Hollingsworth
Imagine a merchant refusing to hand over the change when a customer paid with a $20 bill for a $17.50 item. Virginians would be irate if a restaurant, bar, grocery store, or other private establishment decided to keep the change because the business might “need” the extra money in the future. Yet the Virginia General Assembly is attempting to do the same thing on a much larger scale.
The latest preliminary figures from the Virginia Department of Revenue put the current general fund budget surplus at more than $5.1 billion for fiscal year 2023, which ended June 30. This is more than double the $1.94 billion surplus the commonwealth posted in 2022. This huge surplus is money left over after every single item in the state budget was fully funded under the amended 2022 Appropriation Act, including education, health and welfare, transportation, public safety, and every department and program funded with state tax dollars.
This unprecedented revenue surplus was largely due to higher-than-expected payroll withholding of individual income taxes (which are still not indexed to inflation), as well as corporate and sales taxes.
In other words, Virginia taxpayers were overcharged $5.1 billion over the past two years and $3 billion more than the commonwealth’s own 2023 revenue forecast. And yet some members of the General Assembly, all of whom are up for re-election in November, don’t want to give any of it back. Continue reading
by Derrick Max
Over the last few years, homeschooling has grown in Virginia by almost 40 percent. In fact, homeschoolers in Virginia now account for almost 60,000 students — making homeschooling the fifth largest school district in the Commonwealth. Because homeschoolers are self-funded, this saves Virginia’s state and local governments almost $800 million per year.
More importantly, homeschoolers outperform public school students in almost every measurable category. Homeschoolers score significantly higher on standardized tests, have higher college graduation rates, lower rates of depression and anxiety, and succeed at higher rates as adults.
Yet, The Washington Post reported in The Revolt of the Christian Home-Schoolers (May 30, 2023), based almost solely on one couple’s experience, as a “conscious rejection of contemporary ideas about biology, history, gender equity and the role of religion in American Government.” The article, with scant evidence, concludes that there is an “unmistakable backlash” of formerly homeschooled children denouncing homeschooling.
Riddled with references to “indoctrination” and “abuse,” homeschooling is painted by The Washington Post as a fringe and dangerous educational option. These homeschoolers “could not recover or reconstruct the lost opportunities of their childhood” as “there were so many things they had not learned.” Continue reading