The Virginia NAACP Has Proven Itself an Obstacle to Improving the Educations of Black Children in Virginia Public Schools

Courtesy Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce

by James C. Sherlock

I just read that the NAACP has issued a warning against traveling to Florida.

Which must have come as a surprise to the 3.5 million Black citizens of that state.

It did not surprise the NAACP board of directors chairman Leon W. Russell, who lives in the Tampa area. His defense: “We haven’t told anybody to leave.”

I decided to check the Virginia NAACP agenda for education.

I checked to see what they advocate to change the lives of the tens of thousands of Virginia Black public school students who can neither read nor perform math at grade level. Some of these public schools in inner cities have not provided a basic education to Black students for generations.

Certainly the NAACP must be pushing hard for basic changes. Not just pressing for more funding, but also for measures to ensure that children go to school and giving parents alternatives to schools that have failed them and their children.



NAACP and COVID. In September 2021, more than 18 months after initial COVID school closings and more than 12 months after Catholic schools had opened safely in Virginia, the National NAACP was still talking about what must be done “before resuming in-person instruction.

It’s number one priority for schools was:

1. Protect Public Health: Before resuming in-person instruction, schools must ensure the physical safety of all students, staff, and communities. Safe in-person schooling must also include prioritizing educators and school staff in local vaccination efforts.

When educators and school staff jumped the lines on vaccinations and still stayed out of the classrooms in school divisions such as Richmond, not a word from the NAACP.

In the battles over requiring masks in schools, the Virginia NAACP issued a statement against optional mask wearing in schools in February of 2022, nearly two years after the initial school shutdowns over COVID.

The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP (Virginia NAACP) abhors the passage of Senate Bill 739 (SB 739) with Senator Chap Petersen’s amendment where parents are allowed to opt their child out of wearing a mask in school without an explanation required.

His sly tactics will now increase the odds that hundreds of thousands of Virginia’s children may spread and contract COVID-19 while in school.

The state NAACP “abhors” the bill. “Hundreds of thousands of Virginia’s children may spread and contract COVID-19 while in school.”  “Sly tactics” on making masks optional.  In 2022.

Black student educational deficits pre-dated COVID and were greatly worsened by overreaction during COVID in the closing of schools to in-person instruction. Closures aggressively supported by the NAACP itself.

Where does the Virginia NAACP stand now?

It is impossible to understand how in good conscience the state NAACP refuses to address the elephants in the room — the disgraceful rates of illiteracy and innumeracy of Black public school students in Virginia, violence in schools, and stratospheric chronic absenteeism.

Yet here is the 2023 Virginia NAACP education agenda:

The Virginia NAACP will continue to advocate for the highest standards of learning, safety and equity in Virginia’s public schools which includes:

  • Protecting and expanding funding for Virginia’s public schools;
  • Funding and requiring at least one nurse in every school building in the Commonwealth;
  • Expanding broadband access across Virginia by investing in rural and low-income communities to ensure a standard of internet access, quality, and affordability;
  • Requiring recurring cultural-competency training as part of the teacher certification process, with standards determined by a diverse group of education, civil rights, and community leaders;
  • Defend the teaching of America’s true history including Black history and reject all attempts to remove curriculum due to political pressure;
  • Establishing a grant fund for school systems to hire mental health professionals and reallocating state funding of school resource officer (SRO) programs;
  • Encourage each administration to commit to and prioritize funding to Virginia’s HBCUs.”


  • School choice (the NAACP opposes it);
  • More school hours;
  • Year-round schools;
  • Improved attendance;
  • Increased safety (instead, see “reallocating state funding of school resource officer [SRO] programs” above);
  • Anything else to restore fundamental learning to grade levels.

Now, instead of demanding better outcomes from and options to schools that have failed generations of students, the NAACP supports eliminating the “high stakes” standardized tests that reveal educational discrepancies.

It has been said, accurately in my view, that

For the NAACP leadership, shifting the NAACP’s focus to address more pressing problems such as black-on-black crime, out-of-wedlock births, and failing schools would risk losing funding and status.

Thus the Virginia NAACP proclaims it is “Still Fighting Jim Crow” 127 years after its founding.

Other Black organizations are not having it. Contrast the NAACP to the optimistic, forward-looking, opportunity-focused and actively pro-capitalist Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce.

The Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization committed to the growth and development of our member partners and those businesses that wish to partner with them. Our goal is to facilitate the economic empowerment of black-owned businesses in Northern Virginia and the success and development of the region.

The NVBCC educational initiatives feature lessons in entrepreneurialism.

Read the Richmond Free Press, but not the NAACP, when that Black voice opposed the 2019 elimination of truancy officers in Richmond schools.

Bottom line. Until the NAACP readjusts its aim, they are shooting behind the rabbit and have become by choice irrelevant to the discussion.

The NAACP, faced with a choice between its White progressive donor base and the people it purports to represent, has chosen the former.

As even race entrepreneur Al Sharpton, in a brief moment of clarity, recently said: “progressive for who [sic]?”

Updated may 23 at 22:29 with last two sentences for clarity.