Tag Archives: James Sherlock

Two News Organizations Report on the Youngkin Administration Initiative to Improve K-12 Outcomes

by James C. Sherlock

I submit for your review two articles about the report of the Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction, “Our Commitment to Virginians”.

The first is by Sarah Rankin of the Associated Press.

The other is by Hannah Natanson of The Washington Post.

Both review the same report.  Both are presented as news not opinion.

That report promises broad attempts to improve the education of all Virginia public school children. I suggest that is what we employ a Superintendent of Public Instruction to do.

Read both stories and the report in question. Make the effort a Rorschach test.

What do you see?

Virginia Supreme Court Gives Hope to Competitors of Regional Healthcare Monopolies

Reese Jackson, CEO, Chesapeake Regional Medical Center

Is the Virginia Antitrust Act now in play?

by James C. Sherlock

There is good news this morning for those of us hoping for more competition to regional healthcare monopolies in Virginia.

The Virginia Supreme Court (the Court) overturned the decision of the State Health Commissioner to deny the application of the Chesapeake Regional Medical Center (CRMC) to create an open heart surgical service.

Sentara Health, unsurprisingly, objected to the application and was a party to the case before the Court. It also had been a party to the hearing by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) COPN (Certificate of Public Need) adjudication officer. That official then made a recommendation against CRMC that the health commissioner accepted. The court found his decision to be fatally flawed.

The Court remanded the original decision to the new health commissioner for re-consideration. In doing so, it overturned decisions by the Chesapeake Circuit Court (made by a visiting Norfolk judge who failed to disclose a conflict of interest) and by the appeals court that upheld that original decision.

The court found that the health commissioner made an error of law and that the courts erred in both:

  • deferring to the heath commissioner for interpretation of his agency’s own regulations without rigorous review of those regulations by the courts; and
  • applying the harmless error doctrine to that error of law.  

Continue reading

Richmond Public Schools, VSU, VUU Teacher Residency Initiative is Promising

RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras

by James C. Sherlock

The Richmond Public Schools RVA Men Teach program has partnered with Virginia State and Virginia Union Universities to create a HBCU (Historically Black College/University) Teacher Residency program for male minority teachers.

As a long time observer and sometime critic of RPS, I congratulate it and the two universities for this initiative.

The benefits for minority children, and in fact all children, of having male role models in their classrooms are both self evident and well documented.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has reported that about 76% of public school teachers were female and 24% were male in 2017–18, with a lower percentage of male teachers at the elementary school level (11%) than at the secondary school level (36%).

This RPS/VUU/VSU initiative represents a promising effort to increase the supply of male teachers. I congratulate them for it. Continue reading

A Seat at the Table — State and Local Advisory Boards in Virginia Need Ideological Balance

Willow Woycke, president of the Transgender Education Association

by James C. Sherlock

One of the opportunities offered by investigative journalism that is denied to the average citizen is to observe appointed government advisory boards in action.

It has been enlightening, but almost always disappointing. The way the members of appointed boards are generally selected in Virginia is an artifact of a political spoils system.

Take education. Action boards such as the state Board of Education and local school boards have tended to appoint one-sided advisory panels and, unsurprisingly, get one-sided advice as a single option for public policy.

Minority ideas seldom make their way into the draft policies that advisory boards prepare. That in turn results in bad public policy. We need as a matter of some urgency to do better.

I urge the Youngkin administration to take the lead and change this tradition in state government. Continue reading

Relentless Promotion of Transsexuality in Children – Fairfax County School Board Edition

Willow Woycke, president of the Transgender Education Association

by James C. Sherlock

Family Life Education – Board of Education Guidelines and
Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools, updated in 2020 by a famously progressive Virginia Board of Education, requires:

A plan for teaching sensitive content in gender-separated classes shall be announced publicly.

Current Fairfax County School Board Regulation 3204.9 Effective 09/15/2020 requires both elementary and middle school Family Life Education classes to be gender-separate.

Those rules apparently are now judged to be insufficiently progressive in Fairfax County. Headline:

Fairfax County school board debates mixing genders in 4th-8th grade sex education classes.

Continue reading

Why Not Virginia for Semiconductor Manufacturing Expansion?

Virginia Engineering Programs

by James C. Sherlock

Among the things that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made clear is the vulnerability of Taiwan and with it, the access of the U.S. economy to the 90% of advanced computer chips manufactured there.

The national security requirement for domestic chip manufacturing brings opportunity. It is the nation’s most urgent manufacturing priority. So, why not build the needed plants in Virginia? Is the Commonwealth organized to attract those investments?

For the answer to the last question I looked at the Virginia Department of Commerce and Industry, the State Council on Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) and Virginia’s engineering schools and found nothing to suggest Virginia is making an organized effort.

Much of Virginia’s headline effort in engineering education is to expand opportunities for Amazon workers in Northern Virginia.

I suggest Virginia focus its Department of Commerce and Trade on chip manufacturing, create dedicated educational consortiums, identify available facilities and workforces like those of the shuttered Rolls Royce plant in Prince George County and offer tax abatement packages to actively recruit semiconductor manufacture. Continue reading

Charter School Lessons for the Youngkin Administration from the New York Times

by James C. Sherlock

Probably surprising to many of my readers, one of the newspapers to which I subscribe is The New York Times. Another is The Washington Post.

Of the two, the Times demonstrates far more balance in its reporting. Not opinion – reporting.

Times education writers, direct witnesses to the astonishing achievements of New York City charter schools and their huge waiting lists, can be counted on to investigate and report stories that openly disregard progressive orthodoxy on such schools.

They reported on May 13 (adjacent picture) that opposition to charter schools disadvantages primarily poor minority children and is driving the support of poor and minority parents away from the Democratic party.

That is the message I have been trying to bring to the Youngkin administration. Continue reading

What are We Doing to Ourselves with the Criminal Justice System?

by James C. Sherlock

I will share a press release this week from the Justice Department.

Convicted Felon Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Identity Theft, and Firearm Offenses

We’ll try to figure out at what point we lost our minds about law enforcement. Continue reading

A New Virginia Charter Schools Policy – Recommendations for Success

Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy

by James C. Sherlock

My articles about charter schools draw passionate comments.

Proponents argue what they are trying to achieve with charters. Opponents argue what they want to avoid. Fair enough. There is wisdom in both positions.

So, how does Virginia structure a program that supports successful charters and both denies and closes unsuccessful ones? The most obvious path is to examine thirty years of experience with charters across the country.

I will here provide a brief review of those successes and failures and describe what I understand to be the features of each. The goal is for Virginia to develop a program that features the successes and avoids the pitfalls. I will make specific recommendations that attempt to accommodate the wishes and fears of both sides of the debate. Continue reading

Biden Mounts a Direct Attack on America’s Most Successful Schools for Poor Minority Children

by James C. Sherlock

This is pretty cringeworthy, even for the Biden administration.  

We have new rules for federal funding for new and expanded charter schools that are demonstrably racist. They uniquely disadvantage the poorest minority students because charter schools are proven to help them learn better than any other option.

But the rules are offerings to a higher power- – the teachers’ unions.  

The Biden administration Education Department’s new rules for use of federal charter school startup funding are virulently anti-charter and appear to directly violate the law they pretend to enforce.  

They regulate the distribution of federal funding — $400 million annually — under the charter schools startup support provisions of the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (the Act).

Those new rules are unambiguously aimed to stop the expansion of New York City’s Success Academy (S/A) and non-profit charter management organizations (CMOs) like it that focus their efforts on educating poor minority children in our inner cities.

But the new broom sweeps away pretty much every charter that might apply.

The CMOs have proven amazingly successful — embarrassingly so for the teachers’ unions that hate them for it. These rules are political payback.

Actions are required by Virginia’s Governor and Attorney General. Continue reading

George Orwell Call Home

Nina Jankowitz

by James C. Sherlock

This blog, while proudly based in individual research, often offers controversial ideas.

Uniform agreement is not expected. Debate is encouraged. We learn from one another and even occasionally change a few minds on both sides.

Yesterday the Biden administration announced the establishment of a federal “Disinformation Governance Board” in the Department of Homeland Security to “combat online disinformation in the 2022 midterms.”

Seriously. It was disclosed yesterday afternoon by Secretary Mayorkas in his testimony on Capitol Hill.

You will not be shocked to learn that neither The Washington Post nor The New York Times has yet covered the story. I just checked. Yet it represents a bigger threat to our nation than Russia and China. And it lives within the Department of Homeland Security. Continue reading

Conservative-Liberal Common Ground on High Stakes K-12 End-of-Year Testing

by James C. Sherlock

I have reported here often on the fierce opposition of much of the public education establishment — read graduate schools of education and the teachers unions — to what they label “high-stakes” testing.

What many in those groups really object to is the visibility of standards that subjects them to public review and the accountability that testing brings.

But there are legitimate complaints about the current system.

  • Some teachers feel constrained by the tests. Many think the time devoted to end-of-year testing could be better spent.
  • Others, including parents, contend that accountability is necessary, but they find the information comes too late to be actionable.

Those are legitimate observations. Florida appears to have found a way to satisfy those issues while maintaining accountability. Continue reading

Unionize Virginia’s Worst Nursing Home Chains

by James C. Sherlock

If you go back to the series of articles I published here in October of 2021, you can refresh your memory on the dangers represented by Virginia’s worst nursing home chains.

If you look at the complete spreadsheet of every Virginia nursing home from that data sorted by ownership, the bad actors jump off the page. Their business models treat understaffing as a feature, not a problem. The fact that it endangers their employees and kills their patients seems not to matter.

The Commonwealth’s executive and legislative branches have for a very long time absolutely ignored their responsibilities as the state legislature and as the state executive regulator, federal and state inspector and state licensor of nursing homes, respectively. There is as yet no sign that will improve. I have hopes the new administration will step up to those responsibilities, but we’ll have to wait and see.

For now, the only fix that appears viable is unionization of the work forces of the bad actors. I encourage their employees to do it for themselves and their patients. Continue reading

Fix the Virginia Department of Health

Credit: PBS Healthcare Management

by James C. Sherlock

Governor Youngkin and his new administration have an opportunity to fix crucial problems in the Department of Health that have been festering for decades.

The issues:

  • How can Virginia regulate effectively its state-created healthcare monopolies?
  • In a directly related matter, how can we fix the failures, famously demonstrated during COVID, of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) in its other missions ?

The power of Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) to control the business of healthcare in Virginia was the original sin.  Giving that power to the Department of Health made it worse.

From that point VDH was the agent of its own corruption. Never charged by the General Assembly to create regional monopolies in its administration of Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) law, VDH did so anyway.

Actions have consequences.

Now those regional healthcare monopolies are each the largest private business in their regions, have achieved political dominance in Richmond, and effectively control VDH. Continue reading

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics in the Virginia Department of Education – Average Teacher Salaries Edition

by James C. Sherlock

I was in the early stages of researching a column on school salaries in Virginia when I came upon yet another bad report.

In 2021 Special Session I, the General Assembly directed the Superintendent of Public Instruction to provide a report on the status of staff salaries, by local school division, to the Governor and the Chairmen of the Senate Finance and Appropriations and House Appropriations Committees.

The appropriations committees wanted to know how much teachers and others were getting paid so they could raise the state contribution. It would seem to be a report that VDOE would like to get correct.

As with many other reports I have documented, the January salary report on its face cannot possibly be correct. VDOE and thus the Governor and General Assembly have no idea how much teachers and other instructional staff are paid in Virginia.

This report was a parting gift from the Northam administration.

The question itself — average salaries — may prove not to provide information useful for legislation and appropriations however accurately it is answered. Continue reading