The Catastrophic Effects of Henrico Schools’ War on Discipline


Sometimes I ask myself, do I write too much about race on Bacon’s Rebellion? I lament the nation’s descent into racial identity politics — am I contributing to the trend by dwelling upon the topic so much myself? Then I encounter a report like “A Review of Equity and Parent Engagement in Special Education in Henrico County Public Schools,” and I am reminded that I am only responding to the obsession about race in Virginia’s public policy establishment.

“A Review of Equity,” whose lead author is Anne Holton, wife of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and a former state Secretary of Education, makes a fetish of statistical disparities between white and black students, whether the issue is the percentage classified as having disabilities, placed in special education classrooms, or subject to short-term suspensions and other disciplinary actions.

The report gives limited praise to the Henrico County Public School system. The system does not demonstrate “racial disproportionality” in identifying students with disabilities. Schools have reduced the number of short- and long-term suspensions in recent years as teachers and administrators implemented more “restorative” or therapeutic approaches to maintaining discipline. The number of expulsions and suspensions has declined markedly — 38% for black students and 41% for white students between the 2011-12 school year and the 2015-16 school year. Progress has been particularly evident among students with disabilities, and the white-black disparity in suspensions has shrunk by a third.

Yet disparities persist, notes the Holton report. Black students are still more likely than their white peers to receive short-term suspensions, even when the numbers are adjusted for poverty. The report views continued racial disparities as a big problem and major injustice. Suspending students reduces the time they spent in class, which makes it all the more likely that they will fall behind in their studies.

The report recommends that Henrico County act more aggressively to reduce in-school and out-of-school disparities in disciplinary actions.

Despite HCPS’s successful efforts in recent years to reduce suspensions and expulsions overall, the division still struggles with excessive discipline, particularly for Black students and students with disabilities. In addressing this persistent issue, HCPS should consider setting targeted goals around the reduction of suspension and expulsion rates for certain subgroups of students.

Henrico should “consider designing and implementing a locally tailored plan that explicitly focuses on race and culture to reduce exclusionary discipline practices in elementary and secondary schools.” Henrico’s Positive Behavior Intervention Supports approach, says the report, is beneficial to the extent that it relies on proactive rather than reactive discipline practices. “This shift in how to approach student behavior has been critical to advancing how to re-think discipline, particularly for students with disabilities.” The drawback, however, is that Henrico’s policies are “racially and culturally neutral.”

Instead of applying race-neutral disciplinary policies, Henrico schools should set “specific goals for the disciplining of Black students and students with disabilities.” In effect, Holton is calling for disciplinary quotas — capping the number of disciplinary actions for blacks — in order to bring about racial proportionality.

In pursuit of racial proportionately, Henrico should amend the Code of Student Conduct to promote “alternative discipline approaches” for minor infractions in place of “exclusionary discipline.” Specifically, infractions such as disobedience and disrespect — such as, to give concrete meaning to the report’s recommendation, refusing to be quiet and telling a teacher to go f— himself — should be reclassified in order to help reduce suspensions. And, of course, staff training should be mandated for “implicit bias, trauma-informed care, restorative practices, understanding of diverse cultures, and basic understanding of the needs of children with disabilities.”

Bacon’s bottom line. Nowhere in the report do Holton and her co-authors acknowledge the possibility that perhaps the reason blacks are disciplined at higher rates than other racial groups is that they engage in more disruptive behavior. Given the higher incidence of poverty, single-parent households, child neglect and abuse, and other socio-economic characteristics that affect children’s well being, this is hardly a novel suggestion. Yet the report argues that school disciplinary practices — not the disruptive behavior itself — is the problem.

And nowhere does Holton examine negative effects of Henrico County’s embrace, as insufficient as she believes it to be, of the therapeutic paradigm for maintaining school discipline. Holton and her co-authors authors totally ignore the “disproportionate” impact of eroding classroom discipline on black students who come to school ready and willing to learn. Teachers are required to spend more time on “positive behavior intervention,” which subtracts from classroom teaching time. I would argue that the student-hours of instructional time lost by students suspended from school is a small fraction of the instructional time that all students lose when trouble-makers disrupt classrooms.

Rule-abiding black students suffer the most from restorative disciplinary policies designed to benefit the rule breakers. The “disproportionate impact” is vividly on display in the table atop this column. The failure rate in reading, writing, math, science and history trended the wrong way for all racial groups between the 2015-16 and the 2017-18 school years as the new disciplinary policies took hold. The decline in performance was marginal for whites and Asians but catastrophic for blacks and Hispanics.

The war on discipline in Henrico County schools, launched on the pretext that previous disciplinary policies disproportionately impacted blacks, has… disproportionately impacted blacks (with Hispanics as collateral damage). Oblivious to deteriorating conditions in schools and classrooms, Holton and her colleagues double down on their disastrous prescriptions.

How much longer must black children suffer from the failed prescriptions of liberal white ideologues before someone calls a halt to this madness?

Update: In fairness to Holton and her co-authors, they were responding to Henrico County’s request to focus on disproportionality. (See LarryG’s comment here.) The obsession with race in this report ultimately emanates from the U.S. Department of Justice.

There are currently no comments highlighted.

35 responses to “The Catastrophic Effects of Henrico Schools’ War on Discipline

  1. Consider the source of the report: Anne Holton

  2. As an aside, the report raised an interesting issue: how the restorative discipline process increases workload on teachers and how the dispute-resolution process saps morale:

    “We heard anecdotally of staff morale issues among special education teachers in HCPS, particularly around frustration with the increasingly adversarial nature of the IEP planning and dispute resolution process. A number of teachers report having sought counseling or legal advice related to a perceived hostile environment including personal attacks from certain advocates. More have expressed frustration with the amount of time required for special education paperwork in developing IEPs and later in defending their actions in dispute resolution processes. HCPS leadership reports that eight or more have specifically indicated they are looking for other employment due to the increasingly adversarial atmosphere they have experienced in HCPS special education proceedings. Teachers typically see themselves as wanting to work with students and families and find it frustrating to be seen as opponents rather than partners, as these proceedings sometimes cast them.”

    When morale declines, teachers leave.

  3. No one would confuse Ann Holton with Madame Curie. There well could be bias against blacks if they are punished more often or more severely than whites or other control group. If a study made this comparison I would not be totally surprised.

    But this is not what the study did. As such, it’s as sound as a WaPo editorial. And of course, liberals don’t care about the majority of kids. Too many of them would likely grow up to be deplorables.

  4. There well could be bias against blacks if they are punished more often or more severely than whites or other control group — for comparable behavior. That’s the key.

    I agree that race should not be a factor in how students are disciplined. But Holton & the Gang haven’t come close to making the case that bias permeates the school system. If they conduct such an analysis and show that bias exists, then, yes, action is called for.

  5. I was curious under whose auspices the report was done. Found it interesting that it was the County Manager that called for it.

    and buried in the report is this:

    ” Our Charge and Topics Addressed in the Report. HCPS, a large suburban school division in central Virginia, faces many of the same challenges as districts around the country, particularly related to disproportionality. VDOE has cited HCPS for excessive disproportionality in disciplining students with disabilities (Indicator 4a) and in disciplining students of color with disabilities (Indicator 4b) for three consecutive years, one of just two Virginia jurisdictions currently meeting that criteria. ”

    so this sounds like Henrico is disciplining at higher rates for people of color than every other school in Virginia save one other.

    no?

    • But Larry, unless one measures the incidence and severity of punishment against the nature of the bad behavior for both blacks and the control group, you have a meaningless comparison. Assume a school has a policy that disrupting a class to the point where a teacher must stop the class twice in day is a class 1 offense and three class offenses in a month equals a day’s suspension. Then one would need to measure how many times during a school year black students did this and how many times a member of the control group did this. Then one compares the number of suspensions given black students versus the number of suspensions given members of the control gr0up.

      If blacks are suspended at a rate of 80% (80% of the time a black student commits a class 1 offense three times in a month, he/she is suspended) and the members of the control group are suspended at a rate of 60%, we have what appears to be as serious problem that seems to be linked to race. But if suspension rates are very close (say 78% for blacks and 80% or 76% for the control group), there are no racial disparities.

      Similarly, if 40% of black students committing a class 1 offense three times in a month are suspended for more than a day, while only 10% of the control group are given longer suspensions, I would say we seem to have a racial disparity.

      Why is this so hard? Or are bureaucrats and Senator Kaine’s wife trying to distort the facts to play to the group rights movement? As I often write, I’m no trial lawyer but it sure would be easy to rip Ms. Holton apart on cross examination.

      • @TMT – if your premise was/is true then wouldn’t it be reflected across almost all schools in Virginia?

        Also wasn’t Anne Horton the Secretary of Education and is on a dozen or more boards and agencies on Education – having her own reputation with regard to education as opposed to “Kaine’s wife”. Totally partisan guy.. totally undercuts your point…even if it had merit.

        and ..if the rest of Virginia does not have this problem – then making it about race in general – when it’s actually not that way across the rest of Virginia – doesn’t that sound a bit racist?

        geeze guy…

        • Larry, Anne Holton made race the issue — not TMT, not Bacon’s Rebellion.

          • Anne Holton and several others were all asked by the County Manager to do this assessment… right here in the report:

            ” Our Charge and Topics Addressed in the ReportHCPS, a large suburban school division in centralVirginia, faces many of the same challenges as districts around the country, particularly related to disproportionality. VDOE has cited HCPS for excessive disproportionality in disciplining students with disabilities (Indicator 4a) and in disciplining students of color with disabilities (Indicator 4b) for three consecutive years, one of just two Virginia jurisdictions currently meeting that criteria. HCPS has undertaken a number of initiatives in recent years to reduce its disproportionality on these scales and has made progress, but continues to exceed the allowable benchmarks. As a result, HCPS is required to expend 15% of its federal IDEA funds on prevention efforts, specifically comprehensive coordinated early intervention services.28This is one of several indications that HCPS faces ongoing challenges related to equity for students with disabilities, particularly those who are students of color. An ongoing focus on reducing disproportionality is moreover consistent with the emphasis on equity and opportunity in HCPS’s 2018-2025 strategic plan. The plan commits HCPS to “reduc[ing] disparities among students from varying demographics and backgrounds” and to “lead[ing] dialogue to ensure equity and access for all.”29Given HCPS’s history with disproportionality, the emphasis on equity and opportunity in its strategic plan, and an increase in due process complaints, Henrico County and HCPS sought an independent review of the jurisdiction ’special education programs and policies.30To that end, this review examines the following topics in HCPS: ●Racial disproportionality in the placement and identification practices of racial minority students in special education; ●Disproportionality in school discipline of racial minority students in special education and of all students in special education; and ●The accessibility and usability of special education programs to families/guardians and students.28Division level reports are available at: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/special_ed/reports_plans_stats/special_ed_performance/division/2016-2017/index.shtml.29HCPS Strategic Plan available at:http://henricoschools.us/2018-2025-draft-strategic-plan/.30In 2009, at the request of HCPS, VDOE conducted a review of special education programs in the division. The report focused on demographic data, staffing, disability specific issues such as inclusion, and quality of programs, to name a few. Our report includes some of the same areas of focus, but also expands the focus by including an emphasis on disproportionality in identification and discipline.”

            Ms. Holton did not make this up herself.. she and the others who were appointed were GIVEN this task!

            It’s the way that it is presented here that puts the focus on race and then attracts others to comment here – on that basis.

        • I would welcome a review across all school divisions in Virginia. But it should be done with a valid methodology. Anne Horton did not use a valid methodology. I don’t respect that. She’s a hack.

          When I came to D.C. thirty odd years ago and started representing my client before the FCC, I quickly learned that you must be able to answer your opponent’s arguments. Holton cannot do that. And she’ll be protected by the media.

  6. Dear Jim,

    As everyone knows, Blacks, as a group, are far more violent than other groups, also including Hispanics and Asians, as well as Whites.

    This has a long pedigree, to the decades following the abolition of slavery, according to the famed Virginia writer, Thomas Nelson Page, a subject he addressed in an entire book about the subject, _The Negro: The Southerner’s Problem_. It can be read for free on Google Books.

    Having offered up this lucid, calm work for your readers’ consideration, I shall now plug my ears for the deafening squeals and howls that are sure to follow. (I chose not to include the actual link so as to protect you)

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

    • yep.. Andrews comment reflects what they think Jim B is saying… and I expect once again Jim will come back and say he means no such thing … right?

    • Andrew, blacks in the U.S. today do commit more crimes. In that sense, one can say that they are more “violent.” However, I am concerned that you are implying that blacks are inherently more violent, a conclusion that I categorically reject.

      Right now, my paying gig is writing a family/corporate biography of the Massey family and A.T. Massey Coal Co. I have been doing a lot of reading about the West Virginia coalfields during the 1900s, 1910s, and 1920s. The coalfields were a violent place — much like the Wild West. While there were some blacks working in the coal mines then, the population was mostly white. Murders were commonplace. Moonshine was ubiquitous. The mountaineers were poorly educated. Between the murder, crime, substance abuse, and poor education, one could draw some very strong parallels with inner-city blacks today. (The white mountaineers of that era did not experience the same level family breakdown we see in the inner city — families remained strong before WWII. But family structures are dissolving among poor and working-class whites today. Read Charles Murray.)

      Should we conclude that the Scotch-Irish mountaineers of Central Appalachia are inherently violent? No, I don’t think so.

      The proclivity to violence is rooted in a group’s history, culture, and governing institutions, not its genes.

      • this kind of “defense’ to the overt racism does trouble me and it seems to tread damn close to that line especially when Mr. Murray is cited.

        I’m sorry – when we make issues like this about race – and we are not crystal clear about it – others who are overtly racist see this as others thinking the way they think – and basically joining them in their views.

        Articles like this seem to all but directly say that if there is a higher percentage of blacks – then it must indeed reflect on blacks as a race.

        How do you make it clear this is NOT what is being said so that folks like Andrew do not misunderstand it and need “clarification”?

        • Articles like this seem to all but directly say that if there is a higher percentage of blacks – then it must indeed reflect on blacks as a race.

          Only in your mind. I can’t control what untenable conclusions other people draw from what I write. I certainly can’t worry about what conclusions you fear someone might draw. If I did, I wouldn’t write anything at all.

      • Dear Jim,

        No one disputes that males, as a group, are more aggressive by nature than females. The question is how to harness that aggression for good, and to sublimate it. Page makes a similar assertion about Blacks, as a group, and specifically denies that it applies to all Blacks or all Black males. He notes the difference between Black behavior, and misbehavior, under slavery and afterwards. During slavery, even during the War, insurrections and criminality were extremely rare, and that former Confederates were grateful to their former slaves for having not abused or harmed their women and children during the war.
        After the war, after being released from external constraint Black behavior began to degenerate, as a group, especially among the young (“who knew not Joseph” as it were), with important exceptions. The massive criminality and hatred for Whites that began to take root were due to this release from the discipline that had earlier existed. Shorn of that discipline, and under the influence of political radicals (most of whom were Whites) many Blacks became indolent, criminal, and insolent towards Whites. Not all, but many. (The White was response was harsh, including lynchings, to suppress this behavior, but as Page notes, it did not work, and so the mobs became ever more savage in their retributions on Black criminals.) Reading him in the early 1900s is like reading about our own time.

        I don’t deny that Irish and Scots can be a tough bunch, too, and the influence of alcohol cannot be underestimated. Perhaps other reasons, too.

        So I would say that the differences in behavior between groups are an interplay of cultural and biological characteristics. Just as men are more prone to violent crime than women, so are Blacks more prone to violent crime than Whites, Hispanics, and Asians. A stronger discipline is required, one that is best instilled from within, but if it cannot be done adequately, then it should be imposed from without. Black criminals, like all other criminals, need to be taught a lesson that they cannot continue to behave in the manner to which they are accustomed. But also, their need to be greater opportunities to earn gainful employment, something our “racist” President is doing everything in his power to achieve.

        The importance in acknowledging the sources of the shortcomings of Blacks as a group is that one can actually begin to fix that problem, protect the innocent, including among Blacks first and foremost, and to restore the good name of Whites, who are currently scapegoated for it. We not only do not acknowledge these truths, and hence cannot fix anything at all, but we debase our society by lies and squander precious resources on a chimera.

        Sincerely,

        Andrew

        • Andrew, once again, I categorically reject the argument that there is a “biological” component to higher rates of criminality and/or violence among blacks.

          The analogy with the difference between males and females is totally unfounded. There is a biological difference in the proclivity toward violence between males and females, which can be readily attributed to difference levels of testosterone in males, which in turn can be attributed to differences between the X and Y chromosomes. No such genetic difference has been identified between blacks and whites. Not. One. Gene.

          Now, if you could demonstrate that black males have higher testosterone levels on average than white males, you might have the inklings of an argument, although from what I have read, the testosterone-violence link is more attenuated than commonly believed and the argument still would be difficult to make.

          Here is a study — https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/92/7/2519/2598282 — that examines if there is a relationship between testosterone and the incidence of prostate cancer, hence a study that is not making an argument with highly charged political implications. In other words, the authors have no axe to grind in the issue we are discussing here. After adjusting for age, percent body fat, alcohol, smoking, and activity, the authors found no difference in testosterone levels between blacks and whites. They did find higher testosterone levels in Mexican-Americans.

          If you want to make the argument that Mexicans have a higher biological proclivity to violence than whites and blacks, be my guest. Let’s see the evidence.

          • Andrew Roesell

            Dear Jim,

            Actually, that is what I would argue, that Black males have higher average testosterone levels than White males, Hispanics, and, especially, Asian males.

            Sincerely,

            Andrew

  7. Instead of an out-of-school suspension the high school kids should be dressed in pink jumpsuits and forced to pick up trash all day from public places like parks and playgrounds. Photographs should be taken and posted at the school and on social media. Black, white, brown or other … that would reduce the bravado of being a suspended student.

    • I actually do agree with DJ here… in the good old days.. rowdy boys went off to the military to be “re-trained” … tough-love style.. and there are all sorts of options, alternatives for community service… and that is what some kids do need… it’s a different kind of “education” but make no mistake – it’s something they need that is not provided via traditional education.

      Look at how many famous people grew up and became successful who “failed” at traditional education.. or had ADHD or dyslexia or a troubled childhood – and somehow made it past all of that. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world actually dropped out of school!

      The point here is that a lot of these kids come from “poor” circumstances not only financial but lacking proper parental guidance and yes because blacks tend to have higher percentages of poor – they tend to end up with higher percentages of behaviors that are beyond average kids who are more docile.

      Kids are innocent when they are born – and they pretty much keep than innocence until 3rd grade or so when they are supposed to have learned to read … because the grades after that are “learning” by reading.. and if that does not happen – that kid does not do well in a traditional school environment and yes.. they can be a menace to others… and may well need to be separated – but if we abandon them then – they’re pretty much headed into our criminal justice system where we say with a straight face to be “rehabilitated”.

      If we really think that – we need to do that while they are in school – not after they have been sent to prison.

      And no matter how you cut it – or how strongly we feel about the fact that they “cost” us – that’s the reality and the issue is not that they do – but how much. And it costs us taxpayers a BUNCH of money when they go to prison or even when they don’t but require a lifetime of taxpayer-provided services.

      we cannot save them all – no question but when we say it’s not our fault and imply that race is involved – WE are the ones who screw up.

      • Larry – we are already spending extra money on kids from low income homes. There are federal Title 1 funds that are supplemented by additional funding for the same schools from Virginia. And some localities add more money to that. Most, if not all, of these schools have additional reading and math teachers to supplement what the regular instructors teach. Also, these schools have smaller class sizes to the teachers have more time for individual students.

        We are as a society making great effort to help lower-income students. The question is: Why aren’t the parents/guardians making great effort to push their kids to take advantage of the added resources being spent to help them learn and be successful in life?

        Yes, blame society. It’s not our fault. We are doing our share? But the recipients are not.

        • TMT – we have an underclass of folks who did not receive a good education and consequently are not economically secure and not particularly good parents.

          So what do you want to do about that?

          You can, sure enough, blame them and then stand aside and watch the same thing happen to their kids.

          Is that your solution?

          • TooManyTaxes

            Larry – didn’t receive a good education or didn’t take advantage of what was made available?

            No one gets a perfect education. Everyone gets the poor quality teacher. And some schools, often rural ones, offer a lot less in terms of electives than do other schools. Some offer more even in poor areas. I recently attended a meeting at the Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in N.E. D.C. Impressive facilities and a reputed excellent program for its students.

            But in any event, students have an obligation to make the best of what instruction they receive. Some do; many more don’t. So if society funds these schools and, in the case of Title 1 schools, funds them better than non-Title 1 schools in the same district, hasn’t society filled its role? Or do we need to hire teachers/counselors/babysitters on a one-to-one basis from the time a “disadvantaged” student enters school until the person reaches 50? Where is personal responsibility? Where is: You made your bed, now go lie in it?

  8. Dear Jim,

    In re-reading my post I note a couple important omissions.

    First, the importance of the Christian faith in shaping character, one that is not just a “feel good” sing-a-long and has no theology or understanding of ethics or without a knowledge of the scriptures, nor on the other side, a harsh legalism.

    Second, Thomas Nelson Page also emphasized as did others of that time, the loss of personal interactions with members of the races. The discipline of antebellum Southern society was always PERSONAL and hierarchical. A society dedicated to egalitarianism is opposed “constitutionally” to all hierarchy in society, or Church. It is also a fractious, schismatic, competitive, and distrusting society. Everything is open for challenge, debate, and undermining. It goes with the territory. Capitalism has judged that this fluidity and instability are essential to its brand of technological and economic progress, but it achieves that at a huge cost. As Marx said, everything becomes centered on the “cash nexus.” But his solutions to the very real problems of Capitalism were far worse. Capitalism and Socialism and Communism are ideologies. The existence of private property, and its legitimate defense, is not. A true Conservative does not worship the greed of Mammon or the demon of Socialist envy.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

    • I’m not sure what you’re saying here. Is Christianity a force that dampens the human proclivity toward violence?

      I would agree with that — at least in a 21st-century America setting. Maybe not so much in a 17th-century European setting.

      • Dear Jim,

        Other than the case of the “extremely notable” sectarian violence among Christians, particularly of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries, the tendency of a sincere devotion to Christian principles is toward a marked peaceableness, though not sinlessness. Everyone is aware of other faults that can accrue, those of hypocrisy and legalism being to especially pernicious ones. Belief is the first step in a long process of transformation of the individual soul in Christ Jesus, “in Whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female.” All are called to repentance and salvation.

        Sincerely,

        Andrew

    • You raise an interesting issue here regarding conservatives’ attitude toward capitalism. You advance the idea (shared by both Marxists and the Pope) that capitalism and the “cash nexus” has driven out non-material values and human interactions.

      But I don’t know anyone who believes in “capitalism” as a moral and ethical system. I know plenty of people who believe in free markets and the moral superiority of voluntary interactions free from coercion. As De Toqueville observed of early 19th century America, the free-market economy co-existed with an extraordinary wealth of voluntary associations, in which people collaborated for mutual benefit. The free market system was totally compatible with the family, mutual aid societies, fraternal organizations, and even communes. The cash nexus did not supplant all other forms of human interaction.

      By contrast, the coercive state is supplanting voluntary human interaction.

      • Dear Jim,

        Orwell defined the problem of Capitalism and its reliance on competition as being that “someone wins” the competition eventually. The Capitalist also seeks dominance, if not outright monopoly since in these there is a greater assurance of steady profits. And who can really blame them? And Capitalists ally with the State to help create monopoly and create conditions through policy that advantage them, like high immigration, to weaken labor’s bargaining position or create demand for additional housing, or at least maintain the level of demand . The idea that Capitalists will be “abstinent” in terms of seeking favors from the State is utopian. It seems to me that about all the Libertarians I have met are either academics, often protected by tenure, or small entrepreneuers with a vested interest, and no disparagement intended, in a competitive economic environment. It seems that Government has also been used to open up competition where monopoly from “won competition” prevailed. What then?

        I don’t despise businessmen, and even respect some, but I do not see Capitalism as necessarily Conservative.

        Sincerely,

        Andrew

  9. “But I don’t know anyone who believes in “capitalism” as a moral and ethical system. ”

    I never was a follower, but I think Ayn Rand and her acolytes like Alan Greenspan might qualify. See “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal”.

    • You’re right. I’ve read that book. But I don’t think Ayn Rand means the same thing of capitalism that Andrew does. Andrew sees “capitalists” as utilizing the power of government to bolster their advantage in the marketplace. Such behavior is anathema to Objectivists.

      • You are quite right, Jim. As I recall, Rand’s capitalists wanted nothing to do with government.

        I wonder what Andrew’s solution is?

        • Dear Reed,

          I distrust systemic “solutions” or rather, panaceas, because all are administered by or are “participated by” human beings, though some systems are easier for human nature to corrupt. The temptation to cheat or disregard one’s own principles comes and we either resist it, or succumb. Perhaps it is even good to do so sometimes? For example, when Elizabeth I died, the two closest blood relations to her were Arabella Stuart and James Stuart, King James VI of Scotland, yet English law overruled their claims, but Elizabeth near her death said that James must rule. Had the letter of the law been followed, and both been excluded from the succession, England likely would have been plunged into civil war. What then? (George Garrett’s _The Death of the Fox_, p. 34) Or, in the array of goods and choices one has, one consistently favors the materialistic over all others. We all need to eat and capital and labor deserve their (unequal) rewards, but lines are crossed, sometimes knowingly, and then balance is lost or else other evils arise from it. Systems are helpful for expressing tendencies and even some general “laws” like supply and demand. But even good and useful systems usually only capture certain characteristics. But in focusing so much on those, others, also important, can be neglected. I have no “sure-fire” product or infomercial to go along with it. Sorry to ramble. I am preoccupied.

          Sincerely,

          Andrew

  10. Blaming Capitalism for neglecting the legitimate needs of society not to mention the more malevolent behaviors like racial hatred and ethnic cleansing as if it’s Capitalism that is the cause – is just a total bogus excuse.

    We can have both Capitalism AND equitable treatment of human beings.

    To claim that such outcomes are mutually exclusive is the realm of folks who don’t want to deal with the good in most all of us but apparently lacking in some.

    • Dear Larry,

      Yes, I support private property and oppose vindictively high taxes on the wealthy, but the increase of large Capitalism can be socially revolutionary, as in immigration but also in the support of feminism that breaks down the family by disparaging motherhood and homemaking and the society of mothers in everyday life (i.e. “sitting around eating bonbons and watching reruns of ‘General Hospital.’ “) Single breadwinner families put intolerable limits on the growth of “the workforce,” i.e. the pool of labor available to companies for paid work. Two income families also allow real estate prices to continue rising as now the market can now bear more.

      I am saying that Capitalism as an ideology often views things that Conservatives also cherish with either indifference or hostility, as does Socialism and Communism. There can be overlap, but when “the incentives” are right, or wrong as the case may be, then the cherished “family values” “go to the wall” in favor continued growth. Large Capitalists also favored the growth of the “administrative state” to help stem or limit some of the damage caused by proletarianization. The New Deal was reformist in the wake of the triumph of large corporations, large cities, and the decline of small businesses and farms and towns. Many of us are now serfs either for corporations or as government workers. We no longer have the skills, or health, to be what our more self-sufficient ancestors were.

      Sincerely,

      Andrew

  11. Comment posted on behalf of Bob Shannon:

    Many writers dance around the topic of race as it relates to anything, schools no exception.

    Your fact based tactful assessment is spot on. Much of the left’s analysis begins with their desired outcome and is shaped to reach said desired outcome, facts and or truth be damned.

    Last year we had the President of a Charter School company speak at one of our meetings. Virginia G.A ( bought and paid for by the education establishment) has resisted at the obvious behest of the Public School bloated bureaucracy the opening up of Charter Schools here in Virginia. The fact that we have only a half dozen in the entire state speaks volumes to the powerful influence the VDEA has over our elected officials.

    The results these schools have achieved is breathtaking. At a significant savings these schools have taken some of the most challenging students and worked miracles. It is happening all over the country where private charter schools have been allowed to flourish.

    The ” business model” of public schools is collapsing. Here in Central Virginia we spend around $11,000–$12,000 per student, a significant amount of money, yet the results are only getting worse. As such I am of the view that it is only a matter of time until the business model collapses. Needs compete with other needs, and when the bill comes due in 2020 for Medicaid Expansion ( 1.002 billion) taxes will have to be raised or services cut elsewhere in Virginia spending.

    The silver lining to the debt at every level of government is that we will be backed into a corner and forced to realign priorities, something politicians abhor. The warning shot the rating agencies fired across Congresses bow 5 years ago when they downgraded U.S Treasuries is coming around again, with the exception that next time it won’t be a single notch but perhaps a more significant downgrade having ramifications for the entire country and the economy. As my grandmother used to say “you want to dance , sooner or later the band is going to want paid”.

    The Richmond Times Dispatch just months ago uncovered the scandal in Chesterfield where tens of millions in unfunded benefits through the O.P.E.B ( Other Post Employment Benefits) program has been quietly kept off the radar until the R.T.D series of articles revealed just how rotten the county public schools accounting practices have been. .86 out of every dollar spent in public school budgets goes directly to pay/benefit costs.

    In a presentation I did some 10 years ago to a local school board I made the point that you can pour resources into public schools, but if a child goes home and is a latchkey kid, no responsible adult in the household emphasizing education , the kid sits in front of a TV or a I-pad until he/she falls asleep , no reading or studying, no homework, the results are predictable. I had a 1/2 dozen folks fall out of their chairs when I summarized my prepared remarks by stating

    ” no long term solution is viable until we address the elephant in the room, namely that as a society we have been subsidizing illegitimacy as a national policy for 50 years, and we must stop doing that”

    It was not a message well received by the education crowd. It was however one they needed to hear. If you read through the recent recommendations being promoted in the G.A on the topic of school safety you can easily see the evidence of the mental health/law enforcement/public sector empire builders forming a full employment cabal that will blow these local school budgets through the roof should even half of their ridiculous recommendations be actually implemented.

    Some years back I sat and watched a power point presentation that showed a “master reading teacher , teaching a reading teacher , who in turn was teaching a 10 year old student how to read” .I then asked the School Superintendent why public schools had abandoned phonics, a reading method that worked quite successfully for over a century . Employ these new teaching tactics ( many of which are a fad fostered in the halls of the Cabinet level Education departments) and ultimately resulting in nothing more than hiring more ” specialists”….padding the payroll and growing the empire. Look at the reading scores you displayed in your own article. Where can anyone make the case that hiring “Master reading teachers” made a dimes worth of difference. Of course they will argue how much worse it would be absent these gimmicks that in reality only benefit some more folks who glom onto a decent paying public sector gig.

    School uniforms, a return of reasonable corporal punishment, and homework every night of the week. Having been educated by Nuns in that strict disciplined environment I can personally attest to a remedy that will work, if only the goofy social experiments are abandoned, and people like you Jim continue to speak the truth.

Leave a Reply