Tag Archives: James Sherlock

Afghan Immigrants and Their Children in Virginia – Part 1

Courtesy of Virginia Department of Social Services

by James C. Sherlock

The flow of Afghan refugees into Virginia has been at a much higher volume than is generally appreciated.

I have data on Virginia resettlements of Afghanis from 2016 through the middle of 2021, when the total was 8,560.

The current total is far higher as a result of the Kabul airlift. A government survey reports that 41,000 of that group admitted to the U.S. settled in Texas, California and Virginia.

A significant majority of the Afghanis admitted between 2016 and the middle of 2021 have been granted Special Immigrant Visas and are lawful permanent residents.

Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) have been issued to those who took significant risks to support our military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan, were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government or our coalition forces in Afghanistan, or are a family member of someone who did.

I think I speak for all Virginians when I welcome them and thank them for their service.

I have embarked on an effort to understand the numbers and impact of those refugees on our institutions, especially our public schools.

And our impact on them. Continue reading

Loudoun’s School Board Special Election

Tiffany Polifko, Loudoun County School Board. Courtesy of her campaign.

by James C. Sherlock

The people of Loudoun County have spoken — just barely.

They elected Tiffany L. Polifko to the School Board.

Ms. Polifko is a conservative with 20 years experience as a public and private school special education teacher. She currently serves as a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst working with children on the autism spectrum.

She has two kids in Loudoun County Schools. She stood for election to ensure a quality education for her children and the rest of the children of Loudoun County.

She won by 98 votes with nearly 20.000 cast.

The second place finisher was, according to the Loudoun Times,

(Nicholas) Gothard, a 22-year-old program manager for a nonprofit civic engagement group.

I, like most readers, have seen those words in the dictionary but never before in the same sentence.

Nicholas, informed by his extensive life experience, is very woke and very engaged politically. He was endorsed by Blue Virginia as a:

(h)uman rights advocate and community organizer … (who) hopes to bring a fresh perspective and new focus to the Loudoun County School Board.

He would have brought a “fresh perspective.” To the Loudoun County School Board. Dazzling possibilities there.

And he just missed. Continue reading

UVa Tragedy Reasonably Preventable? State Investigation Required

by James C. Sherlock

Updated Nov. 15, 2020 at 8:36 AM (see end of article)

UVa President Jim Ryan

We have two related pieces of information about the UVa tragedy that call into question the effectiveness of the University’s state-mandated threat-assessment process.

We have the statements of senior University officials.

And we have Code of Virginia § 23.1-805. Violence prevention committee; threat assessment team, which mandates:

Each public institution of higher education shall establish policies and procedures for the prevention of violence on campus, including assessment of and intervention with individuals whose behavior poses a threat to the safety of the campus community.

The statements call directly into question whether the University carried out its responsibilities under that law.

The information available suggests that the Attorney General, one of whose Deputy A.G.s is the University Counsel, will likely convene an investigation led by the State Police.

I offer some information to assist in that investigation. Continue reading

Tragedy at UVa – Suspect now in Custody – Troubling Reports about UVa Police Effectiveness

by James C. Sherlock

D’Sean Perry. Courtesy of the Charlottesville Daily Progress

From the Charlottesville Daily Progress:

“Sean Perry, 22, and a linebacker and defensive end for the University of Virginia football team, is one of three people who was shot dead at Culbreth Garage on UVa Central Grounds at the University of Virginia Sunday night, Perry’s father Sean Perry confirmed Monday morning.

UVa President Jim Ryan said in an email to the community early Monday morning that three students had been killed in the Sunday night shooting. The names of the two other victims who were killed are not available at this time, nor are the names of the two victims who lived.

Classes are cancelled today.

Continue reading

Fredericksburg is the Crime Capital of Virginia

Fredericksburg area crime rate map.

by James C. Sherlock

wrote Friday that Fredericksburg has a major crime problem.

After hours of plowing through state crime statistics for 2021, I can now declare Fredericksburg the crime capital of Virginia.

Public safety is the number one job of local government, followed by running its schools.

The statistics suggest the Fredericksburg law enforcement system — the courts, the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the police department — and the school system have failed.

Fredericksburg may wish to acknowledge that by doing something about it. I suggested reversion to town status. I don’t expect that to happen, at least anytime soon.

The Fredericksburg criminal justice system does not work.

  • I don’t have access to their court data, but the Commonwealth’s Attorney proudly does not want to lock criminals up. She call that type of prosecution “community facing.” I call it community defacing.
  • The state Office of Criminal Justice Services currently accredits 104 Virginia law enforcement agencies (LEAs) that meet commonly accepted professional standards for efficient and effective agency operation established by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission (VLESPSC). But not the Fredericksburg police.
  • Yet Fredericksburg has the largest drug crime problem per capita of any medium or large jurisdiction in the state.

Something needs to wake them up. Continue reading

Will Fredericksburg Revert to Being a Town?

Fredericksburg Virginia Crime Rate Map (Courtesy Neighborhood Scout). Mary Washington University is the light sliver in the center of the worst crime

by James C. Sherlock

There are two major reasons that Virginians organize themselves into local governments:

  1. public safety; and
  2. public schools for their children.

Fredericksburg has proven unable to provide either competently. It’s record is unapproachably bad given its assets.

We have documented its deplorable schools. When I wrote in that piece that they need a new superintendent, I failed to understand the crime picture and undershot the solution.

In 2021, the State Police reported that Fredericksburg had an incredibly high Group A crime rate (Crimes against persons, property and society).

Nearly the worst in the state. I admit that it shocked me.

Neither the crime rate nor the bad schools finds easy excuses in demographics or poverty. I will offer the census figures to prove it.

Fredericksburg’s schools and crime rates are literally breathtakingly bad for no identifiable reason other than governmental incompetence.

The city may wish to consider reverting to a town, either by vote of the City Council or by citizen initiative, and let either Stafford County or Spotsylvania County take over responsibilities its current government has proven it cannot handle. Continue reading

The Commissars of Charlottesville

Leon Trotsky, People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs, 1918

by James C. Sherlock

Leon Trotsky, who headed the Red Army from 1917-22, did not trust it.

On 6 April 1918, he wrote in Isvestia:

The military commissar is the direct political agent of Soviet power within the army. His post is of the highest importance. Commissars are appointed from the ranks of exemplary revolutionaries, capable of remaining the embodiments of revolutionary duty at the most critical moments and under the most difficult circumstances…. The military commissar ensures that the army does not become isolated from the Soviet system as a whole and that individual military institutions do not become breeding grounds for conspiracy.

With commissars at every level of the army, they had their own reporting chain independent of the operational chain of command. And punishments both quick and much to be feared.

Progressives, themselves unwilling to entrust the revolution to those who may subvert it, are fond of similar structures.

Witness the broad and deep Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) system at the University of Virginia. Continue reading

Virginia Needs to Adopt the Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking

by James C. Sherlock

Seldom can we mitigate bad problems with solutions that work and are handed us on a platter. But we can do that in Virginia in the case of human trafficking.

The Department of Justice defines human trafficking as follows:

Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is a crime that involves compelling or coercing a person to provide labor or services, or to engage in commercial sex acts. The coercion can be subtle or overt, physical or psychological. Exploitation of a minor for commercial sex is human trafficking, regardless of whether any form of force, fraud, or coercion was used.

The last time we had good numbers on arrests only, there were 5,000 arrests related to suspected trafficking in Virginia between 2012 and 2019.  Yet even now, the Commonwealth’s Trafficking Coordinator wrote at the end of last year that nearly all of the charges have been brought against buyers and sellers of prostitution, not traffickers.

The Uniform Law Commission (ULC), established in 1892, provides states with non-partisan legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law.

It has since 2013 offered the Uniform Act on the Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking (Uniform Act). This act has been adopted by at least nine states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

While Governor Youngkin signed a spate of new laws in June of this year, a big improvement, Virginia laws on human trafficking remain scattered all over the Code of Virginia.  The only Virginia law against it is § 18.2-355. The laws remain woefully inadequate.

The Uniform Act is ready to submit. Both parties in the General Assembly should sponsor it and adopt it unanimously in the upcoming session. Continue reading

Hospital Quality Matters – A Lot

by James C. Sherlock

A recent note from a reader brought up the issue of emergency room quality.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that Virginians made 423 ER visits per 1,000 population in 2017 (the most recent data available). That number doesn’t have to be current to be attention-grabbing.

VDH’s vhi.org does not report on quality of emergency departments. It does offer ARHQ quality indicators, for hospitals, but the data used currently are from 2019.

The best regular citizens can do to determine what hospital they should use if they have a choice is Medicare.gov’s data. It is updated four times a year.

The quality of the hospital will matter more than most people know. I got a good look at a bunch of them professionally in systems engineering projects.

I learned that the quality variances can be enormous. Continue reading

Is Inova the Best Regional Hospital System in America? How about Virginia’s Others?

Inova Fairfax Medical Campus

by James C. Sherlock

Answer: Inova is at least in the mix for that title.

Fewer than 14% of the hospitals in the country have 5-star quality ratings from Medicare. Another 29% are rated 4-stars.

Inova operates five hospitals. Three of them are rated 5-stars (of 9 in the state) and two 4-stars by Medicare.

Inova has an exemplary board structure and members. Which matters. A lot. Management at the headquarters and at each hospital reflects that board oversight.

We are lucky to have them.

All state acute care and critical access hospitals are in this spreadsheet. We will look at Virginia high performers. Continue reading

Virginia Hospitals’ Quality Ratings – Which Need Improvement?

Carilion Medical Center Roanoke

by James C. Sherlock

Medicare star ratings for Virginia hospitals constitute a high stakes game in every respect.

It’s the best information a consumer can get. Careers in hospital management rise and fall on the results.

All Virginians should pay attention.

I’ll list our best hospitals in another article, but we’ll look today at those that Medicare quality standards indicate need to improve.

Eighteen out of Virginia’s 82 total acute care and critical access hospitals are rated two stars (below average) or one star (poor). Together, those ratings (22% of Virginia hospitals one or two stars) are better than the national averages (29%).

The Virginia systems and regional groupings that Medicare data show have work to do include:

  • Carilion – 4 out of 6 hospitals.
  • Lifepoint Health – 3 of 6 hospitals
  • Bon Secours – 4 of 11 hospitals.
  • Both Fredericksburg hospitals

Eight of the 18 hospitals are parts of regional monopolies. Three are rural critical access hospitals. Four are proprietary. Continue reading

“A Right Wing Group that Despises Public Education”

by James C. Sherlock

A commenter hiding behind the screen name “democracy” crawled out from under some rock to excoriate distinguished public servants and a philanthropic organization as “a right wing group that despises public education.”

That comment is now removed. I expect Jim Bacon did it. But it was there too long to let it go without rebuttal.

“Democracy” called them out because, apparently, they have spent considerable portions of their adult lives working to improve public education. In ways with which he or she did not agree.

Indeed.  Let’s see. Continue reading

The Size of the VDOE Rock

by James C. Sherlock

We postulate that elections have consequences. And they do.


But Sisyphus, sentenced by Hades to try and fail for eternity, never got the rock to the top of the mountain.

Yesterday Dick Hall-Sizemore provided an excellent deep dive into the last couple of months of Board of Education meetings.

He reported that the pace of change since the new majority appointed by Governor Youngkin took their seats on July 1 has been glacial.

He noted that for the Board:

there is often material to be reviewed in preparation for upcoming meetings.

Therein lies the rub.

They are pushing a very heavy rock. Continue reading

Consider Wisconsin’s Successful and Popular Parental Choice Options For Virginia

Tommy Thompson

by James C. Sherlock

Heard enough about the decline of Virginia public schools to want to examine options?

Wisconsin is decades ahead of Virginia in parental choice. Their first law on public school open enrollment dates to 1975.

In 1993, Wisconsin completely overhauled its public school system to provide broad choices for those parents whose kids were locked into poor-performing schools and school districts.

The changes were led by Republican Governor Tommy Thompson. The year after implementing the changes, Thompson was re-elected by the biggest margin in Wisconsin history.

All of these options remain so popular in Wisconsin that Democratic administrations since Thompson have not touched them.

And, yes, Wisconsin 4th and 8th graders outperformed their Virginia counterparts in both math and reading in the 2022 NAEP tests, with significantly lower learning losses.

We’ll examine all of the parental options in the Wisconsin program to see what Virginia might do that has worked there. Continue reading

Out-of-State Money Floods to Incumbent Democrats in Virginia’s Competitive Congressional Races

by James C. Sherlock

I have the utmost respect for political candidates as a class.

They are people who put themselves in the arena while most are spectators.

The American people I think agree.

But by huge margins we decry the amount of money in political campaigns.

  • We deplore the fact that the money required discourages many persons from running who cannot self-fund and refuse to dial for dollars;
  • Most consider vast donations of money to be inevitably corrupting. At a minimum, access by big donors is paid for and assured;
  • Finally, voters would prefer to hear the messages of candidates, directly. Not just the loudest ads amplified by money.

I have shared those views all of my life.

Virginia’s nearly unique problem is unlimited funding, including unlimited out-of-state funding. Most other states have restrictions on both.

Why not Virginia? Continue reading