Tag Archives: James Sherlock

All Public Order, Like All Politics, Is Local

Richmond Riots – credit JAMES H. WALLACE/TIMES-DISPATCH

by James C. Sherlock

Progressives everywhere consider their precious theories more important than actual outcomes. The fact that people get hurt along the way is part of the price they willingly pay for political power.

To paraphrase James Lindsay:

In fact, you only need to know two key ideas: critical theory is radically skeptical that objective truth exists and can even approximately be known, and it forwards the competing view that knowledge is just an assertion of politics by other means. 

That is, the key of critical theory as a social philosophy is that whether a claim is true or not doesn’t matter and misses the point. All that matters is how that claim can be used politically to gain power.

So let’s look at critical race theory in action in public security. Continue reading

Loudoun County Schools Threaten the Future of Minority Students

by James C. Sherlock

Insignia, Loudon County Public Schools

The Virginia Star reports this morning that Loudon County Public Schools has embraced Critical Race Theory (CRT). That move directly threatens the futures of its minority students.  

Ignoring CRT’s Marxist origins, CRT put into practice as a system of pedagogy in American schools has no track record. Seattle Public Schools is aswirl with it, but did not get started before COVID struck so has no results. CRT is so thoroughly pessimistic that no child would be happy in such a school.

There is an alternative available that terrifies the Critical Race Theory/Critical Pedagogy crowd. The pedagogy of New York City-based K-12 Success Academies has proven to not only educate poor minority students, but to enable them to exceed the results on standardized tests of every school district in the state of New York. Continue reading

Health Enterprise Zones for Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

Image credit: Gordon Johnson

COVID-19 exposed what many already knew: Poor people suffer broad disparities in health outcomes when compared to their wealthier counterparts. 

In my original post on health care legislative initiatives in the 2021 General Assembly Session, I recommended the establishment of Health Enterprise Zones.

That initiative seeks reduction of health disparities among Virginia’s poor and among geographic areas, improvements health care access and health outcomes in underserved communities and reductions of health care costs and hospital admissions and re-admissions.

The Health Enterprise Zone (HEZ) initiative has been proven to work in Maryland and New Jersey.  

The Maryland results have been spectacular. And  in Maryland the zones have proven net positive for the state budget.

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UVa’s Lawn Scandal — Bad Leadership and Worse Lawyering

Ms. Azher’s pinboard pictured here has a note that states: “I stand with farm workers”

by James C. Sherlock, University of Virginia, College of Arts and Sciences, 1966

Hira Azher’s profane sign on the door of her room on the University of Virginia’s Lawn has made headlines, and the ensuing controversy has raised many questions. This article will highlight a new issue. University administrators, I will argue, botched the handling of the incident by turning what should have been a breach-of-contract issue into a constitutional freedom-of-speech case.

After alumni raised objections to the now-infamous sign, which said “F— UVA,” President Jim Ryan sought legal advice from University Counsel Timothy Heaphy. Heaphy concluded that the student’s use of profanity was protected by the First Amendment. Although the resident contract signed by Lawn residents gives the University the right to regulate signage, he argued, the institution’s failure to enforce that particular provision in the past essentially gave Azher a pass.

But my analysis suggests that the contract is clear. The University could have enforced it when Ms. Azher breached it with her door sign, which is prohibited by both the contract and University fire regulations.

Mr. Heaphy serves both the University President and the Board of Visitors. He gave each of them and the rest of us bad information. The public representations of the President, the Board and the Counsel himself on facts of the case do not withstand a fact check of the housing contract that Heaphy’s own lawyers wrote and that Azher signed and continues to violate.  Continue reading

College Students See Free Speech on Campus as a Problem

by James C. Sherlock Updated Sept 30 3:15 PM

The results of a new, rigorously analyzed and very large-scale scientific survey of nearly 20,000 students’ perspectives of free speech at 55 different universities in the U.S. are beyond troubling.

We will look at the overall results and specific results for the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.

This was the largest survey  of college students ever conducted about free speech on their campuses.

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Implement “Joyful Learning” in Virginia’s Poorest Performing Elementary Schools

Eva Moskowitz

by James C. Sherlock

I wrote in a previous post of the astonishing record of New York City’s Success Academies in achieving the highest scores in the state of New York on that state’s standardized tests with some of the most economically disadvantaged students.  

I write this time with the great news that there is absolutely no impediment to implementing the Success Academy model in Virginia schools.

I will also offer a very straightforward way to get there.

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Joyful Learning

Eva Moskowitz

by James C. Sherlock

Many of our readers have expressed dismay about the future of Virginia’s schools, some coming to the conclusion that there is no hope. Some others contend that because poor kids haven’t learned over the past three decades, that they can’t learn. Or that some poor kids can learn, just not poor black kids. Or whatever.

Education “leaders” in Virginia contend we must lower the standards to meet the kids, not raise those kids to meet the standards.

Virginia’s Secretary of Education’s stated position is that we must do away with achievement tests to mask deficiency in actual learning and rely instead on aptitude tests, which he admits are not available, to find talented children of color.

Secretary Atif Qarni then insists we put them in advanced classes and schools such as Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology regardless of their inability to demonstrate that they have mastered the preparation necessary to succeed there.

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The Philosophical Tug of War in K-12 Education – 1988 to Present

E.D. Hirsch. Image: BARBARA KELLEY Wall Street Journal

by James C. Sherlock

Others in this space and I have been asking readers to confront what we oppose: critical theory in education, a Marxist-based philosophy that in its execution is designed to tear down the American culture and start over. We see that philosophy today personified in critical race theory and state-directed intrusions in its favor.

To try to provide historical perspective to some of those discussions, I will offer a brief survey of proponents of a more constructive path for K-12 education, directed specifically to improve the performance of poor minority children.  

The ones I have selected feature the work of, Richard Rorty,  E. D. Hirsch Jr. and Naomi Schaefer Riley. Drs. Rorty and Hirsch were professors at the University of Virginia. 

Dr. Hirsch and Ms. Riley are not exactly what you expect.    

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Anti-Racism Training and Whiteness – Equal Time

by James C. Sherlock

The movement should be allowed to speak for itself. It will do so here.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, in its online portal called “Talking About Race,” provided what may qualify as the official list of the characteristics of whiteness. 

The graphic linked below was published by the museum sometime before July 16. The part you may have trouble reading says:

“White dominant culture, or whiteness, refers to the ways white people and their traditions, attitudes, and ways of life have been normalized over time and are now considered standard practices in the United States, and since white people still hold most of the institutional power in America, we have all internalized some aspects of white culture—including people of color.”  

It was accompanied by a chart to show what whiteness is.  Click on the link to see a readable version.  

characteristics of whiteness

In one of the six stages of loss that antiracism training features, participants may wish to confess their parts in the listed aggressions.

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Major Impacts of Northam’s War against Teachers

Federal school funding threatened; Democrats and unions in a bind; Lawsuits coming

Timing is Everything

by James C. Sherlock

Ralph Northam declared on August 30 of this year that Virginia’s schools are systemically racist and that teachers are presumptively racist and must be treated and monitored.

In addition to threatening to create turmoil in the schools and damage to the very students he apparently meant to help, the Governor has potentially kicked over a hornets’ nest worse than he stirred up with his infamous infanticide interview that resulted in the release of his blackface yearbook photo. 

And he may have set Virginia up for federal demands for repayments of Department of Education funds and related fines. At stake is a breathtaking amount of money that includes CARES Act funding, all of which has been contingent on compliance with the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The documented facts may also have put Democrats and their allies (in that word’s traditional and critical race theory definitions) in a large political bind.

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Northam Labels Virginia’s Teachers Racists

No word on teacher Pam Northam’s status

by James C. Sherlock

Trouble at the dinner table?

Governor Northam on August 24, 2020 declared Virginia’s schools guilty of systemic (structural) racism and declared his intention to “build antiracist school communities.”  

He was addressing the #EdEquity VA Virtual SummitCourage, Equity and Antiracism hosted by Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni and State Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane.

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In the Naming Rights Sweepstakes at UVa’s Ed School, A Sophie’s Choice for the Woke

Mao Zedong

by James C. Sherlock

“Sophie’s Choice” is centered on a scene in Auschwitz where Sophie has just arrived with her ten-year old son and her seven-year old daughter. She loves them both equally. A sadistic doctor tells her that she can only bring one of her children; one will be allowed to live while the other is to be killed.

A reader of an earlier post suggested with tongue in cheek that UVa’s School of Education and Human Development be renamed the Marx School of Re-education.

Three currents have reached “intersectionality” (see Wikipedia’s anti-racism glossary) in renaming Virginia’s Ed School: the theorists – Critical Theory, Critical Race Theory –  and the practitioners – the new Cultural Revolution.

It would insult the leadership of the Ed School to call them theorists.

Accused accurately and publicly of “shoddy scholarship” by the Rector of the University, those worthies may consider them elves street fighters leading a cultural revolution, not academics. If so, they will wear the label proudly. The T-shirts write themselves.

If given only two choices similar to those that faced Sophie, UVA’s Committee for Naming must let Marx go and put Mao’s name on the door.

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The School Soon to be Formerly Known as Curry

Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry, 1901 – cancelled

by James C. Sherlock
University of Virginia
College of Arts and Sciences 1966

Robert Pianta is Dean of the Curry School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia.  He has a great CV.

Dean Pianta on March 20, 2020 sent a lengthy letter to the University of Virginia Committee on Names (UVACON) – (no comment).  

That letter provided an executive summary of a monumental effort by lists of “stakeholders” on the Ad Hoc Committee on Naming (also no comment), he convened to study the characters of Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry, after whom the school is named, and William Henry Ruffner, the namesake of the Curry School’s Ruffner Hall.  

To satisfy the curiosity of readers on the edge of their seats, the Dean’s letter preliminarily cancelled Mr. Curry and Mr. Ruffner.

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A Crisis in Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Virginia

Secretary of Education Atif Qarni – Why is this man smiling”?

by James C. Sherlock

I urge those readers with experience as teachers and anyone else with expertise in education to review  a March 2020 presentation by Patty S. Pitts, Assistant Superintendent Teacher Education and Licensure Virginia Department of Education March 9, 2020. She discusses both reasons for teachers leaving Virginia public schools and the shortfalls in recruitment of their replacements. Her data  did not include the retirements and resignations since COVID.

Consider these data in light of the new expectations of teachers as reflected in the State Board of Education and the School Boards of Virginia Beach and Albemarle County policies written about in this space earlier.

The specific recommendations of the Commission on African American History Education in Virginia relative to professional development of teachers will be reviewed by the Virginia Board of Education on September 17th.

Click on and download those recommendations from the Governor’s Commission on African American History Education in Virginia.

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The Albemarle County School Board “Didn’t Ask Many Questions.”

Atif Qarni, Virginia Secretary of Education, is pleased

by James C. Sherlock

As sure as the sun rises in the east, the coming woke fix for achievement gaps in schools will be modified grading standards as part of antiracism policies.

Albemarle County is already there. The School Board is poised to approve a new grading policy at its meeting September 24. “During the meeting, board members were pleased with the policy and didn’t ask many questions.”

Readers can be for that or against it, and it may prove a good thing, or not. Proof will be in the execution.

There is no word how college admission offices will perceive and evaluate the grades of applicants from Albemarle County high schools.  Also none on how students transferring from Albemarle County schools to another district or state will be evaluated for proper class placement in their new schools and their grades translated for transcript purposes.

Details to be worked out.

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