Where’s the Oppression, Mr. Qarni? Please Show Me the Oppression!

by James A. Bacon

Atif Qarni, Virginia’s secretary of education, urges people to fight systemic racism and injustice in U.S. society. Addressing local elected officials, he said in June, “You have significant power to dismantle systems of oppression that may include policies, practices, or processes that negatively impact the lives of Black people or people of color. This may seem like a daunting task, but the first step is actually a simple one. Look at your budget. Your budget reflects your values and where you are investing your resources.”

Taking Qarni’s counsel to heart, I have been looking at Virginia educational spending — drawing upon the Virginia Department of Education’s newly published school quality profiles. So far, I have found no evidence whatsoever of budgetary priorities that disfavor blacks. To the contrary, I found that black students in Henrico County benefit on average from greater funding. Disparities might exist elsewhere — there are 133 school districts in Virginia — but I have not yet found any.

Today, I take a look at the City of Alexandria school system. Alexandria is notable for dedicating spending per-pupil far in excess of the state average — $17,077 per student in 2019-20 compared to $11,560 statewide. As seen in the graph above, there is little difference between dollars allocated to black, Hispanic and Asian in the city’s 14 elementary schools, but whites receive $400 to $500 less on average.

If a “system of oppression” exists in Alexandria, it’s a system that steers more money to schools where “people of color” — mostly blacks and Hispanics — predominate than to schools with larger percentages of white students.

There is a similar spending differential between white and non-white students in the city’s two middle schools, as seen here:

There is no spending differential for high school students because Alexandria has only one high school.

Here’s a question for Mr. Qarni: How much money needs to be spent to dismantle the “systems of oppression” in Virginia schools? Alexandria spends 47.7% more per pupil than the state average. Even after adjusting for regional differences in salaries and cost of living, that’s still a significant premium.

The Alexandria school system is committed to inclusion and diversity. In 2017, a Diversity and Inclusivity Strategic Planning Committee was formed to identify key action steps to build cultural competence, ensure that the curriculum and instruction includes “multiple perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds,” and “reflect on where bias and lack of awareness may be adversely affecting our efforts.”

Despite all this, white students in Alexandria public schools surpassed their white peers statewide in SOL mathematics pass rates in 2018-19 by a single percentage point — 89% compared to 88%.

Black students under-performed their black peers statewide by four percentage points — 66% to 70%.

Hispanics under-performed their Hispanic peers statewide by 15 percentage points — 59% to 74%.

Even Asian students under-performed their peers statewide by 16 percentage points — 78% to 94%.

Disparities in statewide comparisons were similarly awful for science, but more mixed for reading, writing and history.

Perhaps there is some other explanation for these disparities than an unequal distribution of resources and insufficient wokeness.

Qarni makes a lot of broad, sweeping generalizations about inequities and injustices in Virginia, but he offers nothing to back them up with. I mean nothing. Showing commendable transparency, the Virginia Department of Education has reported voluminous data, but Qarni appears to have made no use of it whatsoever. But when you’re woke, who needs data? The Narrative rules all.

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66 responses to “Where’s the Oppression, Mr. Qarni? Please Show Me the Oppression!”

  1. Craig@EmbarkFund Avatar

    Thanks for YOUR narrative Jim.

    “Perhaps there is some other explanation for these disparities than an unequal distribution of resources and insufficient wokeness.”

    Perhaps Jim. How would you suggest to address the societal problem of inequity?

    1. Anonymous Avatar

      Holy snickerdoodles! Did you read literally _anything_ JB wrote here? The entire point of his post was to question whether the “societal problem of inequity” actually exists, in the Virginia public school spending context.

      You can’t beg the question. You can’t just demand that other people respond to your claim about “societal inequality” as though it was unquestioned truth. It isn’t and you’ll have to actually make a case, like JB is doing. You may not agree with his arguments (there are plenty of reasonable disagreements to be made) but just ignoring everything he wrote, shoving your fingers in your ears, and yelling “INEQUALITY INEQUALITY INEQUALITY” isn’t going to work any more.

      1. Steve Haner Avatar
        Steve Haner

        Craig is the latest addition to the team of leftist trolls that exist to counter the narrative here in Baconworld. They can now lurk under the bridge 24-7, perhaps in teams of 2. I should take it as a compliment. I keep telling Jim it’s time to take the next step and at least put names on these people (and that would include you, A). IMHO, the trolls have driven off several good comment writers who have just given up, and the debate strings are not as interesting now.

        1. Anonymous Avatar

          That’s fair, Steve. I would stop commenting here if JB took that step, but I would be no loss at all in the face of the improvement you’re suggesting. It’s a tricky new changing world of journalism and public discourse that we’re in here, and we’ve got to figure out new ways that substantive discussion can thrive.

        2. Craig@EmbarkFund Avatar

          🙂 Thanks for the input Steve. Fyi, I’ve expressed my political voice for the past 40 years since eligible to vote, by NOT voting. Ever. So your silly comment re: leftist, is, well, silly. My ‘not voting’ is my freedom and choice to express/demonstrate a refusal to validate the corrupt systems the USA has been from the beginning.

          My entire adult life has confirmed, since an unusually young age (became ‘woke’ in 1973, hahaha, as a 10-year-old paperboy delivering the Washington Star), the TRUTH of our system/s of governance – fraud, bribery, greed, racism, corruption, Ponzi-Fed policy, etc., and that exists to this very day. I can quote examples DAILY. And now here we are as a country – with the results unequivocally speaking for themselves.

          I’m not impressed with the systems of ‘governance’ in the least. What are you doing to make the country better. I’m spending real money, taking real/extreme entrepreneurial risks every day to remove carbon from the built environment. What are you doing to fix the horrendous state the USA has become?

          1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            “the TRUTH of our system/s of governance – fraud, bribery, greed, racism, corruption, Ponzi-Fed policy, etc., and that exists to this very day. ”

            Egad, a Yalie!

        3. “IMHO, the trolls have driven off several good comment writers who have just given up, and the debate strings are not as interesting now.”

          I won’t claim to be a “good comment writer,” but otherwise this comment could apply to me.

          1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
            Reed Fawell 3rd

            I am in Steve and Izzo’s camp. There are some places where one does not go and hang out. There are games people play that one does not want to play, or otherwise be associated with. Unfortunately, Bacon’s Rebellion is increasingly becoming one of those cheap and low rent places.

            By the way, Izzo, thank you for recommending the book “The Big Mistake. How we wrecked Public Universities and How we can fix them.”

            A fine, and highly substantive book, The Big Mistake is worth not one reading but several more, each reading more rewarding than the last. Keep the Faith, Izzo.

        4. djrippert Avatar

          Craig is not exactly being rigorous in his anonymity. His actual identity is rather easy to determine.

          Anyway, his criticism is the latest Gregorian Chant from the left. The nameless faceless lines of woke monks wearing identical brown cloaks shuffle through the halls of America chanting “societal problems of inequity”. Implicit in that chant are several thoughts. First, there is a societal problem of inequity because any outcomes that are not identical among all members of all American sub-groups proves it. Once upon a time the woke monks of the left chanted about inequality. But decades of expensive government programs designed to create equality of opportunity didn’t generate equality of outcome. So the propagandists of the left updated their chants from “equality” to “equity”. Now it’s no longer sufficient for government to promise equality of opportunity, it must guarantee equality of outcome. If these chants sound similar to older chants from mass murderers like Josef Stalin or Mao Tse Tung, well … they should. The big lie of socialism has always been the false promise of equity.

          The second implicit thought in today’s simplistic Gregorian Chant from the left is that the government can somehow guarantee equity – which is to say “equality of outcome”. If more money spent on minority children doesn’t create equal outcomes then government needs to try other measures. Why are you being so dense about this. Start chanting!

          Jake from State Farm … errr …. sorry …. Craig from Embark Fund is just chanting the latest lyrics of the liberal Gregorian Chant. Instead of Latin the chants are now written in Newspeak.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            is this a strawman: “the “left” asserts that equity is “equality of outcome”

            so if the outcomes are not equal – then we do not have “equity”?

            I want to thank DJ for keeping his posts short and on point.

            The posts that go on and on and on… don’t really get read, right?

      2. Craig@EmbarkFund Avatar

        Thanks Anonymous for your thoughts. I did read Jim’s post and reflected deeply on same. I included a prime example of HIS narrative in quotes, anticipating a comment such as yours. I’ve noted that neither you, Jim or Steve, one of the brightest writers I follow re: Dominion, made zero attempt at suggesting solutions to clear obvious inequity.

        Again, for anyone able to focus: How would you suggest to address the societal problem of inequity? Less spending per pupil? Requiring poor people/single-parent households to get a license proving income/character/race to bear children out of wedlock? A subsequent permit for each additional child? Do nothing?

        Jim ranted anonymous dude. Included some data. Offered zero solution to problem. More whining. No plan.

        “Perhaps there is some other explanation for these disparities than an unequal distribution of resources and insufficient wokeness.”

        Perhaps. But first we need to agree that there is even a problem. Do you think there is a problem anonymous dude? If you do, I’ll look forward to your ideas on how to solve it. And then I’ll share mine.

    2. PackerFan Avatar

      I believe this particular post was addressing the false narrative of their not being enough financial support for black students relative to white students. What other social iniquities are you speaking of – the lower number of two-parent families? The higher rate of black on black violent crime? We definitely need to work together to try to address things like that.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        I’ve posted this before but Jim ignores it:


        skip down to “Conclusions”

        Next – why are we looking at race alone rather than economically disadvantaged – regardless of race?

        Next – just to point out – than some kids who are behind/or need it, do get tutored or they get sent to a private school even a full-time boarding school where the role of the parent is replaced by tutors and the like.

        We KNOW there is an achievement gap.

        Most of us do NOT believe it’s due to race or even culture. Every child in K-3 with a normal IQ has the potential to learn – even ones that are autistic or have learning disabilities – with the RIGHT KIND of resources.

        What we are saying with the bad parent narative is that we can’t help those kids and they are screwed.

        And that’simply not the reality. You give those kids tutors and they will learn – that’s proven.

        1. “Why are we looking at race alone rather than economically disadvantaged – regardless of race?”

          Good question. Why don’t you post that question to Qarni? He’s the one who is obsessed with building educational policy around race. I’m just responding to his actions.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            Over many, many posts on this – the focus has been on race.

            The School Quality profiles also provide Economically Disadvantaged – correct?

            In terms of a better understanding of the issue – do you think generating data like you did for race – and adding one for economically disadvantaged would be informative and possibly show that there is a possible correlation?

  2. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    The key question is how much of the stated per pupil cost actually reaches the classroom. 173 million spent in payroll. 270 million spent on the total budget. So there is a near 100 million dollars floating around in the budget. Of course if fulfills many needs and requirements. Are they using the per pupil cost wisely and efficiently? 162 pages here reveals a great deal.

  3. Maybe comments should be limited to those based on data.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      A useful suggestion. Let’s hope some do and we see how it goes. Disappointing that 120 days into this testing remains so contentious and unreliable.

      1. Craig@EmbarkFund Avatar

        Disappointing. No. Extreme, inexcusable governance failure? Yes. With real and dramatic and unknown consequences soon to manifest. While we’re strategizing/executing a plan to blame China for Covid for an election story, most of the rest of the world’s schools are opening. Fail. Fail.

    2. Craig@EmbarkFund Avatar

      Wow, do science’y stuff. What a great idea Nancy – if it wasn’t already too late. GLD says so…too many trillions to monetize now. Hope pensions are not important going forward, cuz, well, cram downs coming. As for a “Yalie”, hah, way above my no-trust-funder upbringing. Just another lowlife Hokie engineer.

      “A ‘Yalie’ is a WASP, blue blood, biased, ancient, with a hyper social thyroid and not particularly intellectual.” Hahahaha…

  4. Craig@EmbarkFund
    Since Qarni’s idea that the problem is based on budget and that’s not accurate, what are YOU defining as “clear obvious inequity”?

    1. Craig@EmbarkFund Avatar

      Thanks for your comment CJ.

      All things ‘bad’ done/still being done in the past/present against minorities to start. It’s a VERY long list as any fair reading of the truth reveals. Maybe after I finish today’s projects trying to get carbon out of the built environment I can start the list.

  5. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Jim, why don’t you query Qarni directly? Maybe do a brief Q&A? More work but frankly I’m not getting much useful from either of you here.

    1. Craig@EmbarkFund Avatar

      Brilliant idea Peter. I look forward to the experts weighing in.

    2. LarrytheG Avatar

      I agree and also ask him if he agrees with the way Jim is allocating money to races.

      Also agree with James in terms of how the dollars actually translate into direct instructional resources.

      Finally, I continue to ask the question that is not answered and that is for a given school district – how come there are such big difference in SOL scores between the individual schools? What explains that and even especially so for schools that apparently receive more funding?

  6. On the question of what to do…. One solution is to empower lower-income Virginians to send their kids to schools of their choice. Virginia needs more charter schools, more private schools, more home schools, and more vouchers.

    I elaborate on that idea here: https://www.baconsrebellion.com/the-opportunity-agenda-k-12-vouchers/

    If you like your public school, you can keep it. If you don’t like it, you should have the freedom to select one more to your liking.

    In previous posts, I have written about the increasing disorder in classrooms. Conditions in schools are getting worse, not better. Minority children suffer the most.

    1. Craig@EmbarkFund Avatar

      Link and comment much appreciated. Look forward to reading.

    2. PackerFan Avatar

      Careful Jim! That next to last paragraph sounded like Obama pitching his solution to the health care crisis ?

  7. To Jim’s critics: Because you reject equal funding (or more funding for minorities) as constituting equity, what measure (criteria) will you accept as showing that equity has been achieved?

    1. Craig@EmbarkFund Avatar

      Fred, you might start by asking a black person in your neighborhood the question.

      1. The Black and Indian and Pacific-rim Asians in my community stand side-by-side, with equal opportunities and equal sociability. My question to you is what criteria would you, Craig, use to determine if equity has been achieved?

  8. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    How do people who are here illegally fit into the mix? We go quite far (and much further than say Mexico) in providing benefits to illegal immigrants and their families. How does one compare a family who ancestors were slaves with a family that crossed the border illegally in 2018? And once again, how do we address those pesky Asians, including my kids?

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      An interesting question. Do the schools know this and is that information encoded in the data collected?

      Another interesting chart might be the racial makeup of the economically disadvantaged.

      Are those “Asians” economically disadvantaged?

    2. Craig@EmbarkFund Avatar

      Well TooMany, since I’m particularly qualified to weigh in here (I’m on construction sites daily with 100s of folks here illegally)…”how do PEOPLE…fit into the mix?”

      I’m an offspring of Irish illegals, who’s ‘indentured servitude’, in part, made possible USA’s creation of extreme exploitation-of-natural-resources wealth from free/highly-discounted labor until grave. As for the aforementioned folks, who build the buildings YOUR Starbucks are in (or used to be, oops) are here sacrificing THEIR lives simply to, hopefully, gain a better future for their children, mostly from getting an education. So do the math.

      The math: pay LOTS more for everything by hiring only ‘natives’. Or figure out how not to be forever-hypocrites and educate their kids to, ultimately, CONTINUE the growth of country.

      1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        As I expected, you seem to be making the “pick and choose” argument. And only people who think like you get to do the picking and choosing. The rest of us are to shut up and pay the higher taxes so that people who don’t want to pay higher wages get to make bigger profits. Meanwhile wages for American citizens and legal residents with lesser incomes and skills remain stagnant.

        And it’s OK for some to make the argument that violating laws is justified to help one’s family, anyone can make that argument. But I forget, only enlightened people like the left get to decide who can argue what.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          Well, if you went after the Government for NOT making E-verify mandatory with jail time and loss of business for violations – instead of essentially demonizing the undocumented – there might be a compromise path forward.

          And no, not like the anti-immigrant folks have “shut up”. In fact, they are so vocal and strident and uncompromising that we’re gridlocked on it.

          We can’t even have DACA or a legitimate path to citizenship or a real guest worker program.

          Ther are solutions/compromises but they are not coming from the “anti” folks at all… they’re locked in demonizing the undocumented instead of the employers of them.

          1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

            When federal legislation giving amnesty passed in the 1980s, it included stepped up enforcement. The latter never happened because of a corrupt bargain between national Republicans and Democrats. Why should the public believe a new amnesty package would include actual enforcement of the immigration laws?

            The benefits of illegal workers flow to those who employ them and the workers themselves. The costs are born by Americans with lesser educations or skills and taxpayers. Let’s start by making E-Verify mandatory and three years of vigorous enforcement that includes employer fines and even jail time.

      2. MAdams Avatar

        Shall we dissect what you wrote.

        “(I’m on construction sites daily with 100s of folks here illegally)”

        So you’re employed by a company that is actively violating the Law? That makes you a party and therefore culpable.

        “I’m an offspring of Irish illegals”

        There was no such thing as “Irish Illegals” they emigrated here through the process at the time and we legally in this Country.

        “As for the aforementioned folks, who build the buildings YOUR Starbucks are in (or used to be, oops) are here sacrificing THEIR lives simply to, hopefully, gain a better future for their children, mostly from getting an education. So do the math.”

        That isn’t even an argument, that is an emotional response that has nothing to do with math.

        “The math: pay LOTS more for everything by hiring only ‘natives’. Or figure out how not to be forever-hypocrites and educate their kids to, ultimately, CONTINUE the growth of country.”

        That is demonstrable false, wages have plummeted because of companies to which you indicate you work for. They hire individuals who are not legally here in the country and drive wages down.

        The “hypocrite” appears to be you, not shocked.

  9. LarrytheG Avatar

    so it’s TRUE that Qarni framed the equity issue as “black”:

    ” At this time in our country, people in power need to step up and use their positions of influence to effect positive change for communities of color. Now is the time to inventory the damage that our systems have wrought, and invest in changes that help the Black community not just survive, but heal and thrive.”

    but on the budget – he did frame it this way:

    ” but the first step is actually a simple one. Look at your budget. Your budget reflects your values and where you are investing your resources. Ask yourself this question: Do these investments help the Black community in a meaningful way? ”

    the word “meaningful” makes it clear that it about more than just “budget”.

    and he addressed other things (none of which apparently snap Jim’s socks) that I feel actually ARE involved:

    Change school names and mascots that are offensive or that memorialize confederate leaders or sympathizers.

    Review and revamp your code of conduct and disciplinary policies to make them less punitive.

    Review your school boundaries.

    Review your local grading policies.

    Review the demographics of your teachers and staff, administrators, directors, associate superintendents and superintendents and compare that with the demographics of the students served.

    Make it mandatory for all educators and staff to attend Professional Development on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

    Jim seems to think that the above things are not what is needed and that, in fact, all that is needed is voucher schools without ever really characterizing the specific things that voucher/private schools would do for black kids.

    I’d like to see Jim do that – to make that discrete list of things the private/voucher schools can provide to black kids that public schools cannot or do not. Make the case – go beyond ideology.

  10. Craig@EmbarkFund Avatar

    “to make that discrete list of things the private/voucher schools can provide to black kids that public schools cannot or do not. Make the case – go beyond ideology.”

    Cool. But first, how are kids supposed to get themselves across a city twice a day to this good/better/best school? Oh, oops, yes, never mind – kids don’t even GO to school anymore. Problem solved.

    1. Baconator with extra cheese Avatar
      Baconator with extra cheese

      That’s an excellent point. If the kids are going to virtual school then it is the perfect time to test these theories without the need for busing.
      Simply take the kids from the worst performing schools and virtually assign them to tbe teachers from the highest performing schoold and vice versa. Let’s see if it is simply a function of not supplying children with enough resources.
      Or better yet fire the lowest performing school’s teachers and just have the best teacher or two providing the virual teaching.
      “Kill” two birds with one stone! Lower costs and get rid of the disproportionate impact of a “lesser” resource.

      1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        Hell would have to freeze over from Global Warming for an entire decade before public education would try this. It’s about the kids themselves or empowering their parents. It’s about power and money.

  11. CREGUY Avatar

    Good article.

    “What’s your solution if not more money?” Perhaps the appropriate response, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

    As to real “solutions”, the focus is on the wrong factor to begin with. This reductionist idea that learning outcomes can only be manipulated by “education” is ridiculous.

    We’d probably have better learning outcomes for children of color and low wealth children in general if we had universal health care and/or truly affordable housing for all. Those investments in humanity are much more valuable than whether a teacher makes $42 or $48K to start.

    I’d trade universal health care (left political want) for going to a full charter system (right political want). I bet we’d end up with much better learning outcomes for all.

  12. Because nobody is willing to define the goal (the target), what constitutes equity and the criteria by which we will know if it has been achieved, this conversation will be endless. We will not know if any proposed means of achieving equity is worthwhile.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Different folks are defining it in different ways – and there is a lack of agreement (some of it on purpose) as to the relationship between equity and access to opportunity.

      And some pandering with regard to BLM – everyone is falling all over themselves trying to show they “support” BLM.

      it’s a crock.

  13. Matt Hurt Avatar
    Matt Hurt

    I really believe that the state and the feds are barking up the wrong tree with regards the equity issue. We need to be much more worried about outcomes than inputs. If you were to look at Virginia’s data across the board, you’ll find that more money does not equal better outcomes, at least as far as SOL results. I think that money is an easier target than holding folks accountable for the desired learner outcomes- that latter does not play well with the teachers unions.

    If we really want to mitigate the disparate educational outcomes that we have been experiencing, we need to begin holding folks more accountable at all levels. Along with that additional accountability, we need to provide folks with more autonomy about how they get it done, so long at it’s done in
    a legally, morally, and ethically correct way.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      ” more money does not equal better outcomes,”

      … as currently spent – does not mean there is not other ways that work

      re: “more accountable” – when we’re talking about an achievement gap that happens across the board – widespread across the state – in schools that show good SOL scores for other demographic groups – there is an implication that they ARE doing SOMETHING right – they ARE achieving results for SOME.

      Are we going to presume that they know now to teach kids but choose to only teach some of them “right” and purposely not teach the others “right”?

      Certainly, we can’t be saying that teachers everywhere or not being held accountable or to put it another way – if the problem is occurring in an entire school, an entire school district and across the state – is the problem really accountability of all teachers? What would we hold them accountable for – the achievement gap that is universal?

      1. Matt Hurt Avatar
        Matt Hurt

        What would you call it when a school has morally reprehensible outcomes for one set of students, and that is viewed as acceptable by the school? What if it’s not just for one year, but consistent over time?

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          Oh you are correct – but it’s not about teachers… it’s further up the food chain – way up …. it’s fundamental to K-12 in general, no?

          you can’t fix this by telling teachers to teach harder, no?

          1. Matt Hurt Avatar
            Matt Hurt

            Correct. It’s all about the leadership at each level.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            higher than that – I see few if any schools where the principle changed the trajectory.

            That principle cannot change things such as being assigned newbie teachers when he/she has a school full of disadvantaged or the school is a title 1 and gets ONE reading specialist when 3/4 of the school has reading and learning issues.

            When you look at school districts and compare school districts – each with multiple k-12 schools in those districts – the achievement gap is in both… multiple schools in each district and contribute to a district-wide achievement gap that is a lot like the next school district with achievement gaps.

            If this had an easy fix – at least SOME schools even if just a very few – would have figured out the right model to reduce/eliminate the gap.

            In fact, there are some – usually small class private or charter or individual tutoring… etc… but so far no larger scale institutional success such that one larger school system can demonstrate no achievement gap.

  14. Matt Hurt Avatar
    Matt Hurt

    I personally know of several principals who have turned around the scores in more than one school each- it can be done. However, it is much easier if that kind of leadership does come from the central office. We’re starting to see that now in Virginia’s Region VII. I suspect that their successes will begin to be replicated in other parts of the state as well.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I know of at least one also. He varied from the institutional model set by the School administration, but he also was an exceptional person – and above his peers and the reality is not everyone was of his calibre and if schools made that a mandated thing – they’d not be able to fill their vacancies!

      This guy – one of the things he did was to identify the kids who were behind – specifically – and then checked on them with their teachers – weekly and then intervened if the kid was not making progress. He would use para-educators, as many as he could hire, then volunteers to individually tutor these kids… and he basically turned the scores around – and brought the school up to a better-than average standing but there were still kids who needed more help… that he could not get.

  15. Matt Hurt Avatar
    Matt Hurt

    One of the things I have seen principals and central office folks do that is extremely potent is to empower teachers. Rather than micromanage and tell them to use this strategy or that resource, they allow them to get the kids to where they need to be by the end of the year so long as they do it a legally, ethically, and morally correct manner. They do monitor the progress throughout the year, but they don’t tell them every step to take. Teachers really appreciate that level of trust instilled in them as professionals, and they take more pains with their students to make sure they succeed.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I’m not in favor of this at all. It’s nice sounding but it’s dangerous because once kids fall behind – it’s hard to get them back.

      Not a legal or ethical thing per se but something simple like – what did they learn and did they learn as much in a period of time as other kids and what happens if they did not?

      One of the “rules” for teachers is what is called lesson-plans. It lays out what the teacher will do – every day – and one of the reasons it’s a rule is what happens if a teacher is absent for sickness or other reasons, what does the sub do?

  16. Matt Hurt Avatar
    Matt Hurt

    This actually works. The least well funded part of the state with the lowest teacher salaries and the second highest rate of students who live in poverty now has the highest proficiency rates in the state.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      let me back up.

      If they are responsible for their kids meeting the SOL standards, yes, as long as they do that – then let them pick the process.

      But I don’t think you let the kids go the whole year before verifying.

      In the case I was familiar with – the principle met weekly with each teacher and which specific kids were struggling and what to do and some of it was to take them out of class and to get tutored by a reading specialist. The problem was always how many slots that were available as there was only one reading specialist that was funded.

      So the Principle then had several para-educators trained to do some of the remedial work that they could to and prioritized the reading specialist to work only she was skilled in.

      they still had some failures. The game was to get as many on grade-level and SOL as they could given the resources they had.

      local standard of living has a lot to do with salaries… It probably costs 2-3 times as much to live in Fairfax as District 7.

      And a lot of SW Va is small school districts – with one or two schools serving the whole county – and so don’t have the problem of schools schools aligned with rich and poor neighborhoods.. everyone in the county goes to the same schools regardless of household income.

  17. LarrytheG Avatar

    Okay. are you saying this as a general thing or are you referring to a particular school or school district?

    Can we pull it up on the VDOE build-a-table?

    1. Matt Hurt Avatar
      Matt Hurt

      Yes sir- I’m talking about the 19 divisions that make up Region VII. They started down this road in 2015. You can see their progress since then if you aggregate the performance (from the build-a-table website) by region for the 8 superintendents regions across the state. You can see the data for the most current year of SOL performance plus historical performance back to 2006 (the earliest year the VDOE website reports) at the link below.

      1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        Matt Hurt is right.

        His is the formula of all successful schools including those strictly managed like Success Academies, because within all the rigor and high standards of these schools, is the ethos of teacher’s devotion to student success, which includes the teachers’ flexibility and independence of action to lead all students, each one in particular, to success. It is this way with all successful groups and leaders who insist on high standards and results.

        First comes the rigorous training of and inoculation of high standards for teacher. Then comes the empowering of those teachers with the freedom to use that training to best advantage. Over – top is the constant monitoring of what works, what does not, and how to refine and adjust it all, for constant improvements. Everyone one learns, kids, teachers, senior staff, parents.

        1. Matt Hurt Avatar
          Matt Hurt

          That’s pretty much it. It ain’t rocket science.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            must be cuz – there’s a flock of schools that don’t match those results…..

  18. LarrytheG Avatar

    I have to say I AM impressed and these counties, right?

    Bland County
    Buchanan County
    Carroll County
    Dickenson County
    Giles County
    Grayson County
    Lee County
    Pulaski County
    Russell County
    Scott County
    Smyth County
    Tazewell County
    Washington County
    Wise County
    Wythe County

    I did Carroll County for SOL Reading –

    Division Name Subject Test Level Test Source Pass Rate
    Carroll County English:Reading Grade 3 SOL 74 Carroll County English:Reading Grade 4 SOL 78
    Carroll County English:Reading Grade 5 SOL 84
    Carroll County English:Reading Grade 6 SOL 79

    these numbers are consistent with the tables you provided.

    1. Matt Hurt Avatar
      Matt Hurt

      Yes sir, those are the divisions.

  19. LarrytheG Avatar

    So here is the Grade 3 reading SOL scores for the schools in District 7:

    pretty impressive… overall… with a couple of exceptions

    Bland County 81.4
    Bristol City 75.74
    Buchanan County 64.82
    Carroll County 73.91
    Galax City 74.26
    Giles County 68.21
    Grayson County 77.88
    Lee County 72.17
    Norton City 72.58
    Pulaski County 67.35
    Radford City 73.79
    Russell County 74.19
    Scott County 84.36
    Smyth County 71.79
    Tazewell County 77.21
    Washington County 87.62
    Wise County 87.26
    Wythe County 84.53

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