The Pick-Your-Expert Game, Virginia Schools Division

by James C. Sherlock

Danica Roem

A story  by Dana Goldstein published in the New York Times on June 30, 2020, illustrates America’s new favorite parlor game: Pick your expert.  

This essay is hereby entered in the Virginia schools division of the bigger game. Ms. Goldstein wrote:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics has a reputation as conservative and cautious, which is what you would expect from an organization devoted to protecting children’s health. But this week, the academy made a splash with advice about reopening schools that appears to be somewhat at odds with what administrators are hearing from some federal and state health officials.”

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, have advised that remote learning is the safest option. But the (American Academy of Pediatrics) guidelines strongly recommend that students be “physically present in school” as much as possible, and emphasize that there are major health, social and educational risks to keeping children at home.”

Later, there was a government-directed shotgun wedding of the two opinions, but the core AAP recommendation remains. So like every other argument, confirmation bias proved determinative in how various interests chose their “experts.”

The CDC opinion was focused on adults for the simple reason that CDC did not think it had enough data to base its opinion of the vulnerability of children. Because it is a disease control and prevention agency only, that was all it was chartered to report on. It was not charged to think of the broader, non-disease public health effects of its edicts on anyone, and it is expected to stay in its lane.

The CDC recommendation was immediately trumpeted by teachers unions and, thus, became dogma in the Democratic party, which thinks it cannot win without them.

The pediatricians’ opinion was focused on the needs of the children and their overall health. It was favored overwhelmingly by parents of school children. Yet it was adopted only in safe Republican districts and by private, especially Catholic, schools in states that did not block them from opening.

In the political calculations of progressives, school children cannot vote and by the time they can, the schools will have turned them into progressive activists. 

Thus the left, driven by the teachers unions and the option they thought would make the voting population the most unhappy before the national election, attached themselves to the CDC opinion In Virginia, like in other states, anti-Trump and pro-union left-dominated school boards shut the schools.

The most conflicted school boards, which was most of them, chose a Solomonic solution – two days in school, three days out but only under limited circumstances – which was calculated to please (or slightly and equally displease) both sides. It turned out to be hated by both sides, especially the teachers.

Those same school boards then whipsawed back and forth almost weekly. What could go wrong did.

A few Virginia rural public school districts and its Catholic schools opened and have stayed open. The left cannot even stand disobedience by those they can’t control.  

Democratic Delegate Danica Roem, D-Manassas, gave a typical Democratic response in July to the Catholic school opening plans.

“We don’t want to see anyone get sick. One child sick is too many.”

Good to know. Talk to the pediatricians.

I have seen a couple of stories about how the Catholic schools are doing. For example Bishop O’Connell in Arlington County closed for two weeks going into the Thanksgiving holiday after an off-campus party produced infected students. The school is re-opening Tuesday. 

The story noted in the last sentence:

Arlington public schools, meanwhile, will remain virtual for most students through the end of the year.  

Catholic school policy is to close when necessary but the default position is open. The overwhelming success of the program statewide is unreported. Meanwhile, public schools are in utter chaos.

Unfortunately, those same political forces, minus only the imperative of driving President Trump out of office, are still in play. School board members all over the state are seeking protection from enraged constituents.  

Virginia Republicans are going to run on this Democratic fiasco, and it will change a lot of anti-Trump votes in the November election to pro-Republican votes in the 2021 state elections.

The children won’t care about the political outcomes one way or the other. They just want to go back to school.

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21 responses to “The Pick-Your-Expert Game, Virginia Schools Division”

  1. UpAgnstTheWall Avatar

    “Since it is a disease control and prevention agency only, that was all it was chartered to report on.”

    I love how you just breeze past this because you’re so set on your talking point about “choosing experts” that you fail to consider that maybe people aren’t choosing experts but choosing priorities and the priority involved is…wait for it!…disease control and prevention, which is exactly why they’re listening to the CDC!*

    “For example Bishop O’Connell in Arlington County closed for two weeks going into the Thanksgiving holiday after an off-campus party produced infected students. They are re-opening on Tuesday…Catholic school policy is close when necessary but the default position is open.”

    Whipsawing is bad when public schools filled mostly with Protestants do it, but totally sweet when Catholics do it! No, please, no questions about scale and the impact of volatility on parent work schedules, let’s just open and shut large public schools for two weeks at a time at random!

    I’m sure most pediatricians would tell you that universal access to food and health care would benefit kids, too. I look forward to Republicans agitating to expand the SNAP and CHIP programs.

    *The AAMC had a fairly comprehensive article on Nov. 5 on the spread of COVID via children/in schools and when it’s safe to open schools. The two large takeaways is that A) schools in general are the victims not sources of outbreaks and that B) schools are only safe to be opened if the community has the viral spread under control. Now, if you think Virginia has the COVID spread under control then we can open the schools and thank state and federal leadership for their competency, but if the spread isn’t under control then we should keep the schools closed and ask questions of our state and federal leadership.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Small children are tools, well more bludgeons. When they reach 16 they’re definitely tools.

      SNAP? CHIP? Are those like DRIPs? Some kind of stock buy-back? Why would they agitate? They like corporate welfare!

      1. UpAgnstTheWall Avatar

        You sound like you’re in the pocket of Virginia’s non-existent yet all powerful teacher’s unions!

  2. “We don’t want to see anyone get sick. One child sick is too many.”

    The shallowness of this logic is breathtaking. Children get sick from the flu. Ergo, let’s shut down the schools during flu season!

    Even that understates the vapidity of the statement. As the American Academy of Pediatrics said (and we have emphasized on Bacon’s Rebellion), there is a cost to children’s health from lockdowns. More social isolation, more anxiety, more depression, substance abuse, and suicides.

  3. Yes we have had kids (HS) say how much they want to go back. Sick of the whole crap. They even speak before the board on it.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    Just want to point out that there are more than a few schools in Virgina and other states that do not have teachers unions that decided to not go 100% in-person – based on “experts” advice – not teacher unions.

    Unless one wants to equate School Boards as de-facto “teacher unions”.

    It’s an arguable issue, no question but the way it gets portrayed in less than honest IMHO which is becoming par for the course on issues like this.

    When way say “pick your experts” – does one presume that all the school boards that voted to not go 100% in-person just made arbitrary decisions and not advice from experts?

    The CDC advises that community-spread is involved in opening schools.

    Why do we never talk about that in the context of schools especially when school boards are basing some of their decisions on community-spread?

  5. The virus is a psy-op. Viruses happen every year. People die every year. The fear that has been stirred up is outrageous and was entirely political. Kids don’t die from Covid. Flu is a worse killer for kids than Covid.

    How come this report from Johns Hopkins got unpersoned and is now only available via the Wayback?

    For an explanation of what the study showed, here is this –

    So why must we get the Hopkins study now via Wayback?
    “On Thursday, Johns Hopkins University explained that they deleted the article on the study because it ‘was being used to support false and dangerous inaccuracies about the impact of the pandemic.’”

    In other words, the article was not inaccurate, but it undermines our 9 month narrative of scaring people to death to get rid of Donald Trump, and we can’t just come out and say “Never mind” just yet…

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      The CDC excess death report totally contradicts this. It shows months now of deaths in excess of the baseline, and sadly climbing again.

      1. So…which is right? Hopkins or CDC? Or both because measuring differently? My initial inclination would be to trust Hopkins more because I’m not feeling a lot of love for our governmental “experts”…
        But, since Hopkins pulled its report without saying anything in it was wrong, I don’t see them covering themselves with a lot of glory either…

        1. Steve Haner Avatar
          Steve Haner

          Hopkins pulled it because it is absurd on its face, or was being misinterpreted. Back in late spring CDC was getting 30%-40% more death notices than in previous years for that same period. At national scale, the death rate is fairly stable, as that chart shows clearly.

          1. No… I’m doubting the CDC. It made a number of assumptions to come up with its numbers. The Hopkins lady used CDC data, but appears to be using hard death numbers from the CDC, not adjusted estimated numbers. I had heard of other causes of death being down and flu nearly non-existent currently. She showed 1.7 million deaths for Feb 1 – Sep 5. If somewhere between 3 and 3.5 million a year die in the US, 1.7 million over 7 months seems right in line with that.
            Then we have the dying with Covid versus dying from Covid classification problem.
            Does this mean Covid isn’t real? No
            Does that mean Covid deserved all the hysteria? No
            I look forward to a sober analysis of what actually happened so the US does not repeat mass hysteria. The costs will be shown to far outweigh the supposed benefits imposed by our “leaders” and “experts.”

          2. Steve Haner Avatar
            Steve Haner

            The article appeared in a student newsletter at JHU, not some peer reviewed medical journal. I find it hard to believe CDC has suddenly chose to lie about the number of deaths being 10, 20 or even 35% higher in a given week compared to prior years. You are wrong. Absurd on its face.

  6. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    I have been out of contact with teens since March 4th. Not one sniffle. In the 27 years prior to that it was daily combat with teen bred viruses, illnesses, and brain trauma.

  7. sherlockj Avatar

    For those of you running with the false assumption that Virginia doesn’t have teachers unions, I offer one fact.

    Virginia has teachers unions and has had them for a long time. When first the Byrd machine and then Republicans ran Richmond, unions were not recognized as negotiating units. My wife was a member of the VEA ( for a couple of decades.

    It’s a new world under Democratic dominance. Union representation at the contract table becomes local option in May.

    For union influence on school boards, see Fairfax County.

    Try to keep up.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Even though VEA refers to itself as a union – I do not believe it is a recognized bargaining unit that negotiates with schools or VDOE for wages and benefits nor does it take votes to not staff schools.

      If I’m wrong, please direct me to where they did vote and did negotiate for wages and benefits like most unions do.

      1. UpAgnstTheWall Avatar

        VEA does some things a union does like lobbying and legal representation, but to say that makes it is a union is like saying that because I’m six and a half feet tall with a reliable 3 point shot I’m an NBA player.

      2. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead V

        Mr. Larry the local chapters of the VEA, such as the Loudoun Education Association or the Fairfax Education Association, will indeed get a seat at the collective bargaining table as early as this May. Disaster Mr. Larry. The leadership of these local groups will only serve themselves and not what is in the best interests of students or the public good. I regret every penny I sent them for 27 years now. LEA does not represent my values on education. 527 dollars a year. If every teacher in LCPS were a member they would rake in $6,324,000 a year.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          The teachers I talk to up my way say that some schools have like 4 or 5 VEA members for the whole school and most of the rest of the school does not belong, do not pay dues.

          They DO lobby in Richmond and locally they speak at BOS meetings, and they sometimes have a seat at some meetings but as far as I know they do not directly negotiate for wages and benefits nor work rules, etc.

          VEA does not appear to operate like actual real unions up north.

          Does that compare with your experience?

          Did most of the teachers at your school belong to VEA?

          1. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
            James Wyatt Whitehead V

            “VEA does not appear to operate like actual real unions up north.”
            This all changes in May. Brand new heartache coming to the property tax payers at the county/city level.

            “Did most of the teachers at your school belong to VEA?”
            At Briar Woods my best guess is about 2/3rds of the staff. Most joined to have LEA back up a teacher in case of trouble with student, parent, or administration. Also to stick up for pay raises and benefits at the budget meetings.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            Yep, that checks with what I hear up this way.

  8. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    Now, we are back to the Larry the G bullshit games. All nonsense and garbage, center of attention, no substance, just garbage. You guys bring it on yourselves. Serious people don’t play with fools, got far better places to be.

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