Virginia Legislators Hear Lies, Smears and Key Omissions in Critical Race Theory-Based Attacks on Schools

by James C. Sherlock

Senator Louise Lucas

I just spent a great deal of time reviewing two Zoom seminars for Virginia legislators on the education committees of the General Assembly planning 2021 legislation.  

The briefings they got in preparation for the upcoming session were filled with lies, smears, critical omissions and self-referential “data” relative to equity and diversity in Virginia schools.

One was the Virginia Education Summit hosted November 9 and 10 by Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, and Del. Roslyn Tyler, D-Greensville, chairs of the Senate Education and Health Committee and House Education Committee respectively. The Senate Committee on Education and Health has 10 Democrat’s and 5 Republicans and the House Committee on Education has 13 Democrats and 8 Republicans, so this was largely a meeting focused on Democratic priorities.

I sometimes disagree with both Lucas and Tyler on policy, but I will assume they are honest legislators, so will I consider them among the aggrieved parties in what was presented in this two-day meeting.

The second was the VDOE Legislator Briefing on November 12 hosted by Dr. James Lane, Superintendent of Instruction, and Dan Gecker, Virginia Board of Education chairman.  Lane and Becker, Northam appointees both, appear from their words and actions to be Critical Race Theory true believers.

The three days were dominated by “equity” and race. In both of these meetings, every mention of either term referred exclusively to black students and teachers. I don’t believe I heard the terms Hispanic or Asian in three days of meetings.

I have enough important material for several columns.  

Today I will review just two of my takeaways, 

  • the looming teacher shortage in Virginia and its links to the smears against white teachers; and 
  • the lies, omissions and more smears in the discussions about why and how to get more black teachers in Virginia public schools.

Looming Teacher Shortage – Driven by White Teacher Retirements?

One issue may matter above all others, and it was not a prepared presentation but rather was revealed in a nervous response by Dr. Lane to a question from a legislator.

It was clear from that brief question and answer in the VDOE Legislature Briefing that the shortfalls in classroom teachers and likely in principals and AP’s to be announced in December will be of major proportions. Even elementary schools were said to have lots of openings, which is pretty much unprecedented.

One big part of that problem is that apparently the more than 80% of Virginia teachers who are white are older on average than is widely known and many working teachers are eligible for retirement.  

Continued disparagement by the VDOE, the VBOE, and local school boards of the skills, dedication and motivations of white teachers cannot help.  

If you have not been keeping up, the Virginia Department of Education has labeled all white teachers as racists until proven otherwise through an Orwellian program of specialized instruction and continuing evaluation. I am amazed they don’t all leave.

It will be interesting to see how and if school districts fill classrooms with teachers in 2021.  

One thing is assured, the teachers who are leaving will never be asked if being labeled as racists and targeted for re-education “training” by “equity and diversity” committees at their own schools was a reason for their departures.

More Black Teachers Discussion – Smears, lies and omissions

The first session of the Virginia Education Summit hosted by Sen. Lucas and Del. Tyler on November 9 was Equity in Education: A Conversation on Educator Diversity.  

The discussions centered on the need for more black teachers.  

Competent studies have proven that need to be valid. 

“That same race teachers benefit students and demonstrate that for black students in particular, positive outcomes sparked by the so-called role model effect can last into adulthood and potentially shrink the educational attainment gap.”

The same study said that the numbers do not work.  The percentage of black college graduates choosing K-12 education as a career would have to reach 8%.  The researchers found that to be highly unlikely because the profession has low pay, but a worthy goal.

But that was an excellent place to start the discussion. 

However, the participants in the Summit could not by their guiding philosophy stop there. 

The Obligatory Smears

From my notes:  

“There is an increasing demand for teachers who are able to deliver culturally responsive and sustaining curriculum and pedagogy.”

“While we make efforts to find and train new black teachers, we also need to educate white teachers about implicit bias, teach them to be culturally competent, and show them how not to exacerbate these existing achievement gaps.”  

Critical Race Theory is dogma in the church of equity. Genuflection complete. 

I am sure white teachers find great motivation in being described as poor but necessary substitutes for black teachers, and then only if they are trained and monitored at great profit by the Critical Race Theory industry. 

Various ideas discussed on how to increase the numbers of black teachers focused on the professed inequity of the state’s licensing exams and teacher training curricula:

  • Remove barriers posed by educator licensing exams. The “high failure rate” was blamed on lack of exposure to test-taking strategies, cultural biases that are embedded in the assessments, as well as the cost of the test itself. 
  • The VCU School of Education has committed to “de-colonize curricula, increase the number of teachers of color in high-poverty schools, and generate new pathways to teaching.” One cannot wait until the vital work of de-colonizing the curricula is complete.  Perhaps a new state holiday?

Primary Omission – Charter Schools and their Keys to Success

The results of charter schools in New York City and other metropolitan areas put the entire predicate of this Virginia Education Summit in question, so the subject was never broached.  

Not one of the four keys to charter school successes educating impoverished black and brown children were mentioned during the three days even outside the charter school context: 

  • student discipline in the classroom; 
  • parental support; 
  • teacher training and pedagogy oversight by school leadership to ensure effectiveness; and 
  • challenging and rich curricula.

Honestly, how is that even possible?

Another omission – scaling the actual sources of Virginia teachers

For a conference about teachers, these two were utterly without information about the actual sources of Virginia’s teachers. I did the research, and using the biennial report on the number of students from each Virginia ed school that took the battery of tests required for a Virginia teaching license, five of the 36 Virginia colleges and universities that offer education degrees provided more that half of the test takers.  

Those five were, in order of scale from the biggest source:

  • Liberty University
  • James Madison University
  • George Mason University
  • Old Dominion University and 
  • Longwood University

The HBCU’s together produced about 1/7 of the number of teacher candidates as Liberty University alone.

The Lie – Virginia Testing for Teacher Licensing is Biased

The claim of a “high failure rate” for black Virginia teacher candidates taking Virginia’s teacher accreditation exams presents a problem.

Virginia’s HBCU ed schools reported nearly perfect exam pass rates for their students.  

So why would a conference for General Assembly education committee members start by claiming otherwise? The Virginia Department of Education owes Virginians and their General Assembly a definitive answer.

The baseline reference at the Equity in Education: A Conversation on Educator Diversity session of the Virginia Education Summit for the assumption that black teacher candidates are at a disadvantage in teacher certification tests was yet another “summit.,” this one an American Federation of Teachers  diversity summit on July 10, 2019.   

“According to recent statistics from the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which creates and monitors the Praxis Core—the primary test required by many states for teacher certification—92 percent of white test-takers passed the reading portion of the test, compared with 68 percent of African American test-takers. Seventy-seven percent of white test-takers passed the writing portion, compared with 42 percent of black test-takers; and 72 percent of white test-takers passed the math portion, compared with 36 percent of black test-takers.

Hispanic test-takers passed at 80 percent, 58 percent and 56 percent on reading, writing and math respectively. Asian and Native American test-takers also fell behind white test-takers.”

To get oriented to the scale in Virginia of the testing problem discussed, I reviewed the Biennial Report: 2017-2019 Approved Teacher Education Programs Compliance – Accountability Measurements 1 through 7 dated October 17, 2019.   

Thirty-six institutions of higher education (IHE) in Virginia have Virginia Board of Education-approved programs for undergraduate teacher education. Hampton University, Virginia Union, Norfolk State and Virginia State are the HBCUs among the 36.  

Each institution is required to report, inter alia, Assessment Passing Rates. The cumulative results of those 36 reports on pass rates in 2017 – 2019 and the HBCU subset were:

A.  Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) 

  • Total statewide: 5,712 passed and 2 failed. Failure rate .0003
  • Total HBCU: 85 passed and zero failed

B. Praxis subject assessment: 

  • Total statewide: 4,319 passed and 18 failed – failure rate .004
  • Total HBCU: 59 passed and 1 failed – failure rate .017

C. Virginia Reading Assessment for Elementary and Special Education Teachers (VRA) or the Reading for Virginia Educators: Elementary and Special Education (RVE):  

  • Total statewide: 2,811 passed, 13 failed – failure rate .005
  • Total HBCU: 75 passed, zero failed

D.  School leadership licensure assessment (SLLA): 1,148 passed, 15 failed

  • Total statewide: 1,148 passed, 15 failed – failure rate .013
  • Total HBCU: not offered

The overall pass rate for Virginia HBCU ed school students on the battery of Virginia teacher assessment tests they took over a two year period was thus 99.5%.

Accountability

So the VDOE and VBOE owe the sponsors of the Virginia Education Summit, Sen. Lucas and Del. Tyler, and the rest of us several explanations.  

  1. When the data on teacher shortages are released, please ensure that they are broken out by race. Everything else is. Please also inform whether departing white teachers were specifically asked about the influence of equity, diversity and inclusion programs on their decisions to leave.
  2. Where is the inequity in testing of black candidates, or indeed any candidates that take Virginia’s battery of teacher certification tests?  Are there minority candidates educated at other than Virginia ed schools that have difficulties?
  3. Are the Praxis results of students of Virginia ed schools as much as a statistical one-off as suggested by the American Federation of Teachers diversity summit figures quoted above?
  4. Is there any statistical evidence that Virginia needs to modify its tests to accommodate minority teaching candidates? If so, what is it?
  5. Is there any statistical evidence that Virginia needs to modify its alternate paths to licensure?

Personal note

Finally, we must publicly recognize that there is a Critical Race Theory government/industry complex that uses very effectively the threat of accusing any opponent that dares contradict them of racism.

It is hugely profitable for the private interests involved and intellectually compelling enough to some senior appointed officials to make the threats real, because they use them at the drop of a micro-aggression.

I am really tired of the wall of untruths, omissions, smears and self-referential “data” used by that complex to justify the unjustifiable.

Regardless of that, they effectively cow state and local elected officials into doing things that are demonstrably destructive to the best interests of school children, including especially minority school children.

I have a question for our elected officials in Virginia: How much of this is finally enough and when will you speak out to stop it?

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31 responses to “Virginia Legislators Hear Lies, Smears and Key Omissions in Critical Race Theory-Based Attacks on Schools

  1. Because indoctrination of children has become the primary mission of public schools. The teachers unions don’t care about teaching kids, they are in it to push their progressive and racist ideology.

    • Yes, it is called indoctrination by Video feed. But wait until these leftist teachers get back into the k-12 classrooms. Then they can add physical intimidation into the mix, not only of kids, but of good and decent teachers trying to teach kids. This has been going on for years in cities like Baltimore. Here again fear is the name of the game.

      • What we are really witnessing here in Virginia k-12 education is an ethic cleaning of white teachers, a form of cultural, employment and educational genocide, racism in the extreme.

      • “The HBCU’s together produced about 1/7 of the number of teacher candidates as Liberty University alone.”

        Is this the fault of Liberty University?

        Is this the result of racism at Liberty University?

        Should these teacher candidates at Liberty University be punished, shamed, and exiled should they be listed by the state as white people?

        Based on what we now know, should not the State of Virginia and Federal government investigate for violation of the civil rights of white education graduates of Liberty University trying to teach in the state of Virginia?

  2. “Lucas and Tyler on policy, but they are honest legislators”
    Mr. Sherlock, you have missed the antics of Sleezy Weezy, who has been known for corruption, cronyism, and the like. Her actions have gotten true honest folks fired and leaving town. When a town goes to pot – look at its “leadership”.

    Vic

  3. Well done, Jim. Virginians are blind to what’s happening because the news media aren’t covering any of this. I predict that the Northam administration will have presided over the greatest meltdown in academic achievement — and widening of the racial achievement gap — in Virginia history. This is arguably the top ongoing story in the Commonwealth of Virginia today. And the media has missed the entire story.

    • Thanks Jim. I agree completely that this is the top story, and the media doesn’t see it because they simply don’t look.

      Lies, omissions and smears are the entire game plan of the CRT government/industrial complex. Its a lot of work to call them out.

      Part of the failure to do so is the downfall of regional papers. Part of it because the Washington Post won’t touch this story. Part is that many who might report agree with CRT. The rest is fear of being called racist.

      You and I don’t fit in any of those corrals, but without this blog this particular outrage would never see the light of day.

  4. Captain J. Excellent research. A friendly suggestion. Cut this in half. Write tighter. More impact.

    • Excellent suggestion. I am a little lazy. I write some of these as evidentiary essays for submission to government investigators and publish them here. Saves me a step. I sent this to the VDOE to let them know what the GA members had been told when VDOE was not in charge of the presentation. Asked them to answer the questions raised. We’ll see what happens.

  5. >>Peter: Captain J. Excellent research. A friendly suggestion. Cut this in half. Write tighter. More impact.

    James: Excellent suggestion. I am a little lazy. I write some of these as evidentiary essays for submission to government investigators and publish them here. Saves me a step.>>

    James:
    You should ignore Peter’s comment. Peter may have found it too long, but I read every word of it. It makes a difference when there are actual facts and evidence to support an argument. I wish more people would write stuff that was long on evidence.

    • I know, but I empathize with Peter. We are both products of Jesuit education.

      Interestingly (or maybe not), “jesuitical” has a definition: practicing casuistry or equivocation; using subtle or oversubtle reasoning; crafty; sly; intriguing.

      I have never been accused of equivocation, nor, I assume has Peter, but we come down on opposite sides of nearly every issue.

      What the Jesuits insisted on was critical thinking, until it impinged doctrine.

      Peter certainly has adopted a doctrine directly opposed to that of the Church. His heresy is a big one.

      Mine, on the other hand, is Old Testament rather than New Testament, an eye-for-an-eye rather than turning the other cheek, another version perhaps of heresy, but a modest one.

      So there is no explanation for either Peter or I, other than critical thinking can produce conflicting opinions, even if each challenges traditional Church doctrine from a different side.

      • I am a product of Jesuits but disagree as to Peter’s critical thinking. Like Peter, however, I value truth as best I can discern it over diplomacy.

  6. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    VDOE will have to water down the licensure standards to attract career switchers. That would be one way to boost teacher recruitment. The Praxis test is tough for some of young teachers. I remember in Loudoun we had a large number of Pennsylvania teachers who came south looking for work. There was a universal complaint about the high Praxis cut scores. White teacher early retirement? Most certainly. CRT was one of the factors in my decision to retire at the earliest possible moment: age 50. I could have easily put in another 15 years, but not a chance under current conditions. To translate that is 2,250 students that will never be seated in my classes because I chose wisely to grab the last parachute.

    • James (john Randolph of Roanoke)
      A few months ago, you said “it is over. We have lost.” Do you still think that?

      • James Wyatt Whitehead V

        Mr. Reed education is such a massive institution. It will take a full generation to steer back to somewhere in the middle. Have we lost? In the near term of the next 5 to 10 years, most certainly. The long term could be salvaged. I think somebody like Kirk Cox taking over on Capitol Square could get the rudder going in the right direction. But I don’t think that is going to happen in 2022.

  7. If you want to know why teachers are retiring / non-renewing, go to reddit.com/r/teachers & reddit.com/r/teaching and ask the question simply. It’s not a Virginia-only issue.

    (My guess is you’ll likely find it has less to do specifically with CRT and more to do generally with management, but maybe CRT plays an out-size role of that.)

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      It is virtually impossible to teach authentic American history under the CRT cloud. Who wants to walk on hot coals for doing nothing wrong but good teaching?

    • I have checked reddit.com/r/teachers and it is heartbreaking. If they would be provided they right kinds of school and parental support and then allowed to close the classroom door and teach, most of the career changes would cease.

      But the CRT government/industry adds one more huge log onto already overburdened teachers and that is it. Any kid who fails is now automatically the fault of the teacher. No parent or child agency or responsibility is acknowledged.

      We will soon enough default to Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) for a lot of K-12 classrooms without teachers. But the bureaucracies will remain. Plan on it.

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Good link. Heart breaking stories. Truth. It has always been this way. Covid and the “Reset” just accelerated the timeline. I remember there were 14 of us working on our masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction down at VPI. I am the only one who made it to a pension. The other 13 lasted less than 5 years.

  8. The Virginia Retirment System reported in September a 1.4% return for 2020 and expectation of 6.75% in 2021. That seems unrealistic. With only 70.9% of teachers pension liabilities funded now, high numbers of retirements in 2021 could impact local governments who will also have to pay retirees for accrued vacation and other earned benefits. Looking at the VRS future risk analysis of COVID-19 economic recovery scenarios, the expected cumulative return over the next 5 years is between 2.17% and 5.31%. I’m not sure how this will affect localities efforts to retain or replace retirement eligible teachers.

  9. On October 21, 2020, Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), MSAAC (Minority Student Academic Advisory Committee) and the NAACP held a virtual town hall meeting, that was (2) hours long. I posted a summary of the meeting including some video. Below are some notable comments made by the Loudoun NAACP President, Michelle Thomas, and the MSAAC Chair Keaira Jennings. So not only is the VADOE killing education throughout the state of VA, they have emboldened radical racist groups like the NAACP to run rough shot over local county schools. As was stated above, having a feckless and weak school board only enables their behavior. For all practical pusposes, the LCPS school board has become useless.

    NAACP President, Michelle Thomas’s Demands of LCPS:
    – LCPS has no real recruitment plans to hire black and brown teachers
    – Black teachers are leaving LCPS because of hostile racist environments
    – Lack of black and brown teachers is a crisis in LCPS
    – LCPS needs to offer student loan forgiveness for black and brown teachers
    – We must import black and brown teachers, pay for relocation packages and offer higher pay because Loudoun is expensive to live
    – LCPS needs to place more black and brown people as principals and assistant principals
    – LCPS needs to create “Black Student Unions”
    – Western Loudoun lack of black students, is racist, many, many racial incidents occur
    – Black and brown students are “arrested” at an alarming rate in LCPS

    MSAAC Chairman, Keaira Jennings Comments:
    – MSAAC Equity initiative should NOT stop OR slowdown because of COVID
    – LCPS students are in school and They are learning at home and doing well considering
    – It is irresponsible and selfish for anyone too even think we should not focus on Equity because of a health crisis. **Important note here, Eric Williams agreed with this statement, now ask yourselves WHY is there so much BS getting our kids back in school?**

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Keep pushing the message out. I was just talking to a Loudoun parent this morning. Someone I have known since college and mother of biracial white/Asian high school students. She was aware of “problems” but had no extent as to the depth of the crisis until I explained it to her. Parents need to know the truth not just the Loudoun propaganda that is churned out.

  10. Pingback: Virginia Legislators Hear Lies, Smears and Key Omissions in Critical Race Theory-Based Attacks on Schools | STOP Critical Race Theory In Loudoun County Schools

  11. You’re 100% right James! It’s been pretty much the perfect storm(s):
    – Covid: people worried about getting COVID, getting kids back in school, suffering education and in many cases grades
    – 2020 Election: Not much needs to be said here!
    – CRT: Late summer/early fall, CRT really just started popping up (even though it’s been around for years) and parents just started hearing about it, let alone understanding it and how LCPS is fully consumed with CRT and the NAACP
    I’ve been trying to expose all I can when it comes to CRT and LCPS. If you don’t mind, maybe your friend would somewhat find my site helpful: stoplcpscrt.com

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      I did pass on your website. It’s a lot to absorb. A bit overwhelming to take in for the first time but she was thankful to be enlightened.

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