Tag Archives: James Sherlock

Flooding the Zone at VDOE

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane

by James C. Sherlock

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is absolutely relentless.

Defenders in a zone defense in football are responsible for areas of the field, rather than following a specific receiver. Offenses often attack these defenses by flooding a zone — sending three receivers into an area covered by two defenders.  

But at least there are 11 players on both sides of the ball.

VDOE is trying to flood  defenders of traditional K-12 education, not with strategy, but with superior numbers of players.

The enormous staff of VDOE, backed by state-funded University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University ed school professors, attacks traditional roles of parents and teachers on so many fronts simultaneously that they are very hard to defend.

I just read the VDOE Teacher Direct Newsletter published July 14, 2021. 

Below are a few of the headlines along with some of the VDOE guidance for teachers.

Continue reading

Fellow Democrats, We Can’t Fix Stupid

by James C. Sherlock

Fellow Democrats, we can’t fix stupid.

News report:

“Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded Tuesday to criticism by the United Nations’ human rights apparatus of “systemic racism” in the United States by announcing plans to issue a formal, standing invitation to dozens of U.N. rights experts to visit and investigate.”

“It is in this context that the United States intends to issue a formal, standing invitation to all U.N. experts who report and advise on thematic human rights issues.”

“As a first step, Blinken said, the administration has invited two of the experts, the “special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism” and the “special rapporteur on minority issues,” to pay an official visit.”

Continue reading

Richmond Public Schools Show No Progress on Staff COVID Vaccinations

by James C. Sherlock

Last updated Just 15 at 4:16 PM

I have long taken a personal interest in the City of Richmond Public Schools (RPS). Its students have a right under the Virginia constitution to a quality education that they are systematically denied. RPS has utterly failed to educate the children under its care. The proof is in the Virginia Department of Education’s School Quality Report.

The Board of Education dutifully reports that fact every year to the Governor and the General Assembly — another constitutional requirement. Neither takes effective action.

Now most of RPS school personnel have failed to get vaccinated. School starts next month.

Action is warranted. None appears in the offing. Continue reading

Can’t Read This? Thank Your Favorite “Top 20” Ed School


by James C. Sherlock

The Washington Post published an informative article on poverty and education. It recognized early on that:

“Educators and policymakers have spent decades — and billions of dollars — trying to figure out how to make it easier for students like Alexa, bright young people who face a cascade of challenges linked to poverty, succeed in school. Almost nothing has stuck.”

How that got past the editors will be the subject of protests in the newsroom later today.

Anyway, it was about the economic and educational struggles of immigrants in California’s central valley. A worthy topic.

The Post didn’t mean poverty in areas like Wise County. You know, coal country Republican voters. Not ever going to be on their radar.

But anyway, thanks for the nod to reality, WP. Continue reading

UVa Offers Social Warrior Lesson Plans to Virginia Kindergarten Teachers

by James C. Sherlock

In case anyone thinks the left ever rests, the University of Virginia ed school has struck another blow to educate children as social warriors through its ”Educating for Democracyproject.  

“Democracy is not a spectator sport; it requires our participation, and this participation must be oriented toward justice. To create a more just democracy, citizens must be able to critically assess systems of inequity and work collaboratively to redress inequity and create lasting change. Dialogue is central to the process and can be transformative. Frequent and effective dialogue can engender equity and inclusion for everyone.” 

“We believe that K-12 students across the country have the power to embody these principles and shape America into the just democracy we all desire and deserve.”

So, since “we all desire” America to be shaped into a “just democracy” from it’s current, presumptively pitiful status, the Educating for Democracy project offers teachers free online lesson plans designed to create social justice warriors.

It is not possible for most to imagine the lengths that radicals will go to take control of the minds of very young children, so I will provide two directly-quoted examples below. Continue reading

Transgender Medical Care for Children – Do not Parents Have a Role?

by James C. Sherlock

Yesterday’s two-part column, I responded to the Virginian-Pilot’s assertion that transgender rights are being conflated by conservatives with critical race theory in schools. 

I agree that they are, and I find it appropriate.  

Child instruction in CRT and transgender affirming psychological and medical interventions for children without parent participation are being advocated by the same people.

Some of our progressive commenters professed shock — shock — that I would characterize VDOE’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools as child transgender advocacy.  

A motion for immediate relief from Model Policies filed in Lynchburg circuit court offered some of the legal objections. Amicus briefs have been filed on both sides. So fair enough to disagree with me.

I will relate two contrasting viewpoints, one expressed in The Washington Post and the other by the the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The first minimizes the role of parents; the other considers parents as partners.

That is the primary political bone of contention in both the CRT in K-12 public schools and transgender student model policies controversies. The rest is details. To argue otherwise is sophistry.  So pick a side. Continue reading

Journalistic Competence and Integrity, Explained – Part 2

V-P building in Norfolk being turned into 181 apartments

by James C. Sherlock

We are back to the story posted on the front page above the fold by the Virginian-Pilot on Sunday, July 11. This is Part 2 of my critique.

Last time  we discussed a lot of false flags in that story. In this one I will take up the story’s references to social emotional learning and transgender students. Continue reading

Journalistic Competence and Integrity, Explained – Part 1

V-P building in Norfolk is being turned into 181 apartments. Staff members working from their homes.

by James C. Sherlock

A couple of reporters, Sara Gregory and Matt Jones, wrote the lead front page article in The Virginian-Pilot print edition today.  

It was headlined “Critical Race Theory, Explained” and was presented as news, not opinion.

The line between the two is more blurred every day. I wish it were not, but that is not my objection.

People are entitled to their own opinions on critical race theory and its implementation in K-12 schools. Honest people can disagree. But a newspaper is not entitled to wrongly redefine ideas that form the basis of an active public debate and then criticize one side.

That happened here. Continue reading

Where Is a Parents’ Bill of Rights for Virginia?

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes, the simplest and certainly one of the best ways for a public official to serve the public is to inform them about things they care about.

The Attorney General of Indiana, perhaps the best governed state in America, has just published a roadmap for parents and caregivers to “exercise their legal right to have a voice in their children’s education.”

It is called the Parents Bill of Rights and is exactly the kind of initiative attorneys general should take to inform citizens of their rights on issues of public importance.

Good luck seeing such an assessment from Virginia’s AG. Continue reading

President’s Executive Order Could Bolster Healthcare Competition in Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

Yesterday President Joe Biden issued an executive order (EO) on competition that has the potential to significantly affect Virginians, especially our monopolized regional healthcare markets. 

While an EO does not have the force of law, the president as chief executive can set priorities. The executive departments will honor the EO where not barred by law.  

Federal judges appropriately will not be influenced by an EO. However, EOs put the hand of the chief executive on the scales of executive department prosecutorial decisions and regulatory actions. That will affect the cases that the the Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department, and the targets they bring before those judges.

In the healthcare sector, a White House Fact Sheet indicates that the EO “tackles four areas where lack of competition in healthcare increases prices and reduces access to quality care.” Those are prescription drugs, hearing aids, hospitals and health insurance.  

There is already fierce competition in the pharmaceutical industry. I consider the prescription drug portions of the order a threat to future drug development, but President Biden undoubtedly has already taken account of my opinion on that. Continue reading

School Finance in Virginia – the Issue of State Contributions

by James C. Sherlock

We have been discussing public school policy often, and it merits the attention.

So to provide background, I prepared a spreadsheet to help us all understand school finance in Virginia. I used the school year 2019-20.

It is both important and interesting and certainly raises questions, primarily about state contributions.

The state computes an index of local ability to pay that is supposed to guide state contributions to each school district, but the 2029 – 20 data complied in the spreadsheet do not seem to support that contention.

I am sure VDOE has an explanation, but it would be worth hearing. Continue reading

Loudoun County School Board Needs to Clean up its Own Equity Mess

by James C. Sherlock

The Loudoun County School Board gets to lecture absolutely no one about equity. The richest county in America has shoehorned most of the high schoolers among its record low percentage of poor children into one of its 15 high schools, Park View High.

That in itself is not an indictment.  They go to school where they live, and in Loudoun County most live in Sterling near Dulles Airport in the Park View High School district.

What is utterly unusual, and a disgrace, is that having placed them in Park View, LCPS has failed to educate them.

For context read my report yesterday. Only 60% of Park View’s Black students passed SOL math tests; 70% of its Hispanics.

Virginia Department of Education data puts the lie to the school board’s incessant claims of systemwide systemic racism. Eighty-six percent of Briar Wood’s High’s Black students passed math SOLs, as did 90% of its Hispanic students. Those are virtually the same as the white student 88% pass rate state wide. Continue reading

Are Poor Rural White Wise County Evangelicals More Antiracist than the Wealthy, Urbane Citizens of Loudoun?

   

by James C. Sherlock

Many are fascinated with the nationally infamous Loudoun County School Board. Board members seem preoccupied with driving social change without pausing to look at data.  

I have thought someone ought to check how the Loudoun students have been faring in SOLs to see if there are academic issues that need to be addressed.  

State data show that in too many Loudoun high schools Black, Hispanic, immigrant and the poor students performed poorly in math SOLs. The data are presented relative to state average math SOL pass rates for those cohorts, which in many cases themselves are very disturbing in an absolute sense.

It is not a resource problem.  

Loudoun is the nation’s richest county in median household income and neighboring Fairfax County is among the top few. Median household incomes in Loudoun were $142,299 and Fairfax $124,831. The state average median household income was about half Loudoun’s.  

Again as before, 2018-19 remains the base year for assessments because that was the last year that SOLs were not interrupted by COVID and subsequently the last year for which the state has district and individual school evaluation data.

The Loudoun County School Board and its school superintendent need to investigate why students in all racial and social cohorts in profoundly poor Wise County in Southwestern Virginia crushed Loudoun students in high school math SOLs.

Maybe they will learn something. And then perhaps the students will.

You know, real school board work. Continue reading

Loudoun County School Board Ignorant or Dismissive About the Performance of Its School District

by James C. Sherlock

I have, with much of America, been watching the woke cabal that forms the majority of the Loudoun County School Board. They are true believers. It is testimony to the depths of their feelings that they don’t let the needs of the kids in that school district get in the way of dogma.

That majority, mostly relatively young products of our universities, are hell bent to find and stamp out anti-Black racism.

To do so they ignore both extraordinary Black student success in Loudoun schools and the very poor job that system has done in educating Hispanic, poor and English learner kids.

That raises the obvious question of whether the members have done their homework to understand the schools they run. So I did it for them.

The overarching lesson from that exercise is that the school board does not understand Loudoun County schools, or, if they do, don’t care.  Maybe both. Continue reading

Pre-COVID Test Results Show a Failed Public Education System

by James C. Sherlock

I have questions in my own mind about the quality of Virginia public schools.

In search of answers I invested several weeks full time in building into a spreadsheet what I consider some of the critical metrics among both Virginia public schools in general and ten different school districts that I chose.  

For each of those districts I recorded data on: 

  • demographic groups by racial cohort, economically disadvantaged, and English learners;
  • school investment; 
  • chronic absenteeism; 
  • SOL reading and math performance of each demographic group in each district; and  
  • Compared them to state averages in each metric.

I chose and paired the ten different school districts (of 133) in an attempt to get a cross section of urban, suburban and rural districts in Northern Virginia, the Richmond area, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads and Southern Virginia.

I used the 2018-19 school year, the last year before COVID, to provide a baseline for learning losses and what those schools need to do going forward.  

The data reveal enormous problems with the basic building blocks of education.  Continue reading