Tag Archives: James Sherlock

Young Peoples’ Attitudes About America Show that the Nation is Reaping What the Left has Sown

by James C. Sherlock

Updated Dec 2, 5:34 PM.

Terry McAuliffe:

“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Clearly, parents have not done so successfully. The Left has.

For a dramatic lesson in what the young have learned about America at enormous public and private expense, please see the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics Harvard Youth Poll Fall 2021 Top Trends and Takeaways, published yesterday. The poll of more than 2,000 18- to 29-year-olds was taken between October 26 and November 8 of this year.

Some poll results:

A majority (52%) of young Americans believe that our democracy is either “in trouble,” or “failing.”

More than half (51%) of young Americans report having felt down, depressed, and hopeless — and 25% have had thoughts of self-harm — at least several times in the last two weeks.

American Exceptionalism is a highly divisive issue among young Americans; less than one-third believe that “America is the greatest country in the world.”

In a Spring poll taken March 9-22, 2021, young people were much more hopeful. In fact, their rate of loss of hope in the last seven months could reasonably be called a crash.

Harvard has been doing this survey twice a year for 46 years. The results are  not surprising. However, they will serve as a perfect Rorschach test for one’s political beliefs.

The Left will find them encouraging; the rest of us will not. Continue reading

Press Misinformation on Critical Race Theory in Schools Fuels the Fight

by James C. Sherlock

Americans are at one another’s throats over critical race theory in schools.

The debate is skewed and the rage fueled by completely different understandings of the terms of reference — the actual objections to CRT in education.

Those objections have been misstated routinely by the legacy national newspapers and the education press. The misleading articles make it into most national newspapers these days with the collapse of regional reporting. And the misinformation they spread has made it into these pages.

Education Week, in a surprise change of pace for that journal, published on November 15 an opinion piece by Rick Hess titled “Media Coverage of Critical Race Theory Misses the Mark.”

Based upon a detailed study of a year’s worth of press reports, Hess finds that the national legacy media and the education press have largely and purposely ignored the core objections to CRT in schools.

Instead they have misled the public with a selective and progressive-friendly, but inaccurate definition of the terms of the debate. Continue reading

Welcome to Loudoun – Just Avoid Route 7

by James C. Sherlock

Saw this headline in the Washington Business Journal.

“Toll Brothers pushes big residential plans in Ashburn — and a tribute to enslaved people who once lived there.”

Behind the headline: This is to be a development of 1,300 residences in a project named Mercer Crossing.

Since it is being built by Toll Brothers, we’ll assume they will be pricey.

Their Lenah Mill project in Aldie has homes for sale from “$1,323,895″ and from “$1,499,950,” depending upon how much space one needs and how close one wishes to live to one’s neighbor.

Six other Toll Brothers developments in Loudoun are nearing sold-out status. Continue reading

Feds Require Changes to Virginia Health Insurance Law

by James C. Sherlock

There are a couple of new issues between Virginia’s Bureau of Insurance (BOI) and the federal Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS).

The problems were briefed today by a Board of Insurance representative to the Health Insurance Reform Committee.

CMS has told the BOI that the 2020 General Assembly passed a law (possibly without knowing the implications) that violated a federal statute. The Virginia law attempted to protect the state from having to spend money to fund a new health insurance mandate for Qualified Health Plan (QHP) holders. QHPs are small group and individual policies sold on the ACA exchange.

The feds are not amused. Virginia law apparently will need to be changed. Continue reading

Kamala Is on It

Credit: the Daily Iowan

by James C. Sherlock

News you can use.

“Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday called for a health care workforce that “looks like America.”

It would not have been possible to make it up.

The Virginia Constitution’s Broken Promise of a Quality Education

by James C. Sherlock

Lots of people think the schools their kids and grandkids attend are above average — the logical extension of the Lake Wobegon effect. In Virginia, they had better hope they are right. The average Virginia public school is not providing a decent education to major portions of its student body.

The Virginia Constitution makes the establishment and continual maintenance of a quality education the responsibility of the General Assembly.

It has demonstrably failed in that duty.

SOL results. A student must get a raw score of 400 or higher on their SOL(s) in order to pass the test. Except lower in math as you will see below. A perfect score is 600. So, let’s look at statewide SOL pass rates.

I offer below a chart of Virginia public school Spring 2019 SOL pass rates (all schools all grades) for different subgroups of students.  The 2018-2019 school year was the last before COVID, i.e. the last “no excuses” year. Continue reading

Success Academy Models Excellence in Teaching Poor and Minority Kids

by James C. Sherlock

I have some very good news about public education at the K-12 level. Just not yet in Virginia.

But first a baseline of Virginia statistics to get our heads straight.

The bad news. I offer below a chart of Virginia public school Spring 2019 SOL pass rates (all schools all grades) for different subgroups of students.   The 2018-2019 school year was the last before COVID. The last “no excuses” year.

The statewide student populations of those subgroups in 2018-19 were:

  • White: 624,738 – (projecting results to all grades, 106,000 were not writing at grade level)
  • Asian: 92,122
  • Black: 286,032 – over 100,000 of these kids could not read at grade level).
  • Hispanic: 208,739 – 54,272 could not perform math at grade level)
  • Economically Disadvantaged: 520,827  –  182,289 were not reading at grade level
  • Not Economically Disadvantaged: 769,940 – 107,791 could not perform math at grade level
  • Students with Disabilities: 170,750 – 90,497 were not reading at grade level

Many schools, of course, have far worse results. Those schools are not providing appropriate learning environments and are not teaching these kids properly. Not even close.

There is no shortage of “experts” with unworkable, even counterproductive ideas of how to fix this. Such people are thickly congregated in graduate schools of education.

Perhaps we should look to people who have actually succeeded. Just a thought. Continue reading

How to Recruit the Best Charter Schools for Poor and Minority Kids

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia school districts desperately need to find ways to improve public education for poor minority children.

The lowest performing schools are concentrated in urban areas, but, as I have shown here, are present in even America’s richest county, Loudoun.

Charter management organizations (CMOs), non-profits who operate two or more charter schools, focus on educating those very students. The best, like New York’s Success Academy, have produced spectacular results with the very kids whom many Virginia schools are failing. But they will not locate in Virginia right now due to our laws. They would not be able to operate here in the manner that has made them successful.

This article will show what is necessary for Virginia to position itself to compete for their services for the kids we most often fail to educate.

We really must do it. Continue reading

Loudoun Public Schools and their English learners

by James C. Sherlock

I wrote a column the other day that exposed gaping fissures in learning among subgroups of children in Loudoun County Public Schools.

I asked readers to check the SOL data especially at Frederick Douglass Elementary, Leesburg Elementary, Sully Elementary, Sugarland Elementary, Sterling Middle and Park View High.

This article will offer the data for enrollment and chronic absenteeism in those six schools. I will use the same year, 2018-19, that featured the SOL scores in that article.

They are tough cases, but they have to succeed. Continue reading

Solutions for Loudoun Schools from America’s Best Educators of Black and Hispanic Kids

by James C. Sherlock

I wrote yesterday of the epic failures of many Loudoun County Public Schools to educate their Black and Hispanic children.

Fortunately, there are proven solutions available.

They were not invented here, but rather New York City by the most successful charter management organization in America. That organization offers educator instruction in those solutions online free of charge.

Loudoun County Public Schools can take advantage and learn from them. I recommend they do so without delay. Continue reading

Loudoun Public Schools – Suitable for Economically Secure Asian and White Kids Only

by James C. Sherlock

If your kids are Asian or white and economically advantaged, Loudoun County Public Schools are worth a try.

Otherwise, forget it.

At my age I am seldom surprised. The failures of Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) to educate so many of their children in the wealthiest county in America have easily cleared that bar.

The Constitution of Virginia famously demands:

“The General Assembly … shall seek to ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continually maintained.”

In Loudoun, the struggles between the school system — the school board, the superintendent and the school administration — and parents have spawned national headlines. Those have focused on COVID responses and social engineering by the schools.

The spectacular failures of the Loudoun County Public Schools seen in the academic scores of its students other than economically secure Asian and white kids is a bigger scandal.

Far too many young lives have been cut short of their promise by denial of not only an “educational system of high quality”, but even an adequate one.

It needs to stop. Continue reading

Harassment and Bullying Not the Reason for New Transgender Protections in Virginia Schools

by James C. Sherlock

The Virginia Department of Education’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools continue to be fiercely controversial.  

The Left points to harassment and bullying as the reason the 2020 law was needed. Yet we already had a law and policy against that.

The new policies were developed in response to House Bill 145 (22 Democratic sponsors) and Senate Bill 161 (four Democratic sponsors) enacted by the 2020 Virginia General Assembly.  

VDOE was directed to address each element specified in the law. Many think the authors went much further than they needed to comply with the law. 

It is important to know that the controversies are not over the parts of the law that protect transgender kids from bullying. Nobody defends bullying. And Virginia already had laws and policies to address that.  

It is time to provide and assess the facts. Continue reading

Loudoun Schools Fail Their Most Vulnerable Kids

by James C. Sherlock

Kids and their parents don’t ask much of their schools. Just a quality education in a safe and moral environment. Even at ages before the children fully realize what the words education and moral mean.

The kids themselves have no choice but to take what the school system puts in front of them and do the best they can with it.

Loudoun is the richest county in the United States. Number two is not even close.

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) have helped white and Asian kids from economically comfortable homes. In fact, the Asian kids are such terrific academic achievers and grace Loudoun County schools in such large numbers that their successes mask rot underneath.

But educating the economically disadvantaged as a macro group and Black kids, Hispanics, students with disabilities and English learners as sub-cohorts of that group are the true test of a school system.

LCPS has largely failed those kids. The LCPS administration is responsible and must be held accountable. Continue reading

Mandated Administrative Bloat Will Destroy Small Public Schools

by James C. Sherlock

I am a big fan of small schools.

Studies and common sense both indicate the benefits for the kids and staff can outweigh any disadvantages.

But small public schools are being driven out of business by costs in some parts of Virginia. Much of the cost disadvantage in those small schools is driven by administrative bloat forced by a combination of state laws and regulations and school division mandates.

Some of the latter-day “must haves” of management and specialist staffing for schools have demonstrated value in improved outcomes for the kids, some have not. In general, the state mandates the positions that matter, local school often districts require additional ones that don’t.

The fixed cost of management and administration must be absorbed no matter the size of the school, driving up per student costs in smaller schools. Many are being driven out of existence by costs they are not permitted to control.

I am going to offer here for comparison two schools, both elementary schools, one in Loudoun County and the other in Wise County. Continue reading

Key Fiduciary Duties of School Boards and Superintendents

by James C. Sherlock

My frequent columns on Virginia schools bring up the same lines of arguments and agreements every time.

I hope it will help if I explain what I expect of school boards and superintendents. I try to align my writing with those expectations.

School boards and superintendents hold their positions first as trustees for the children, but then also for the interests of parents, school employees, and taxpayers.

So what are their primary duties? I will write of only five:

  • provide a quality education to every child;
  • provide safe and welcoming schools, excellent learning environments and equal access to education for all;
  • listen to parents;
  • be good stewards of public funds;
  • manage professionally.

There are more, but I will stick to those because they are missing in some Virginia schools and districts.

While I have praised a few school systems, failures in those duties provide the underlying themes of much of my writing. I hope to write more about successes in the future. Continue reading