Jackson: Vote YES on Parental Choice in Education

One of the major points in E.W. Jackson’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor in 2013 was expanding School Choice, an issue in need of attention but largely ignored by most politicians then and now. But that’s about to change. Del. Dave LaRock has introduced HB 2238, a bill that would establish savings accounts much like the Virginia 529 college plans, but to help defray costs for families opting out of the public education system. In an email this morning, E.W. Jackson’s Unite Virginia PAC details the bill and calls on people to contact the members of the House Education Committee and ask that they vote YES to this bill:

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Far too often, those who need our help the most are stuck in failing school systems that do nothing to help promote families out of poverty and into prosperity.

We cannot allow the quality of one’s education to be dictated by their social status or zip code.

That is why I have championed Parental Choice in Education for years. We must do more to take the power of education out of the hands of bureaucrats, unions, and failing school systems and put it back into the hands of the family so they can help secure a better education and a better future for their children.

This year we have an opportunity to help make Parental Choice in Education a reality.

HB 2238 would create Parental Choice in Education Savings Accounts allowing families to save money to put towards their child’s education just as they would for college. But the key to this bill is that localities will be helping as well.

Localities will contribute 90 percent of state funds appropriated for public school purposes per pupil – meaning for every dollar the state provides your locality to educate your child, 90 cents will be put into the savings account and 10 cents will go to the locality to help improve the quality of a public education.

This bill is a win-win for both families and localities, empowering parents who want to choose a different path for their children while providing localities a net gain for each student who opts for a private education.

This is a step in the right direction for Virginia’s families. Far too often students are stuck in failing systems that leave them behind in a fast moving world. We need to ensure families have options to better the lives of future generations – Parental Choice in Education does that.

We need this bill to make it to the House floor and to the Governor’s desk. You can help make that happen by contacting the members of the House Committee on Education and telling them to vote YES on Parental Choice and YES on helping ensure a future for thousands of Virginians.

  • Joseph Yost (R) – (804) 698-1012 – DelJYost@house.virginia.gov
  • Richard Bell (R) – (804) 698-1020 – DelDBell@house.virginia.gov
  • Steve Landes (R) – (804) 698-1025 – DelSLandes@house.virginia.gov
  • Roxann Robinson (R) – 804) 698-1027 – DelRRobinson@house.virginia.gov
  • Scott Lingamfelter (R) – (804) 698-1031 – DelSLingamfelter@house.virginia.gov
  • Tag Greason (R) – (804) 698-1032 – DelTGreason@house.virginia.gov
  • Mark Keam (D) – (804) 698-1035 – DelMKeam@house.virginia.gov
  • David Bulova (D) – (804) 698-1037 – DelDBulova@house.virginia.gov
  • Pete Farrell (R) – (804) 698-1056 – DelPFarrell@house.virginia.gov
  • James LeMunyon (R) – (804) 698-1067 – DelJLeMunyon@house.virginia.gov
  • Jennifer McClellan (D) – (804) 698-1071 – DelJMcClellan@house.virginia.gov
  • Jimmy Massie (R) – (804) 698-1072 – DelJMassie@house.virginia.gov
  • Roslyn Tyler (D) – (804) 698-1075 – DelRTyler@house.virginia.gov
  • Jay Leftwich (R) – (804) 698-1078 – DelJLeftwich@house.virginia.gov
  • Glenn Davis (R) – (804) 698-1084 – DelGDavis@house.virginia.gov
  • Thomas Rust (R) – (804) 698-1086 – DelTRust@house.virginia.gov
  • Mark Cole (R) – (804) 698-1088 – DelMCole@house.virginia.gov
  • Daun Hester (D) – (804) 698-1089 – DelDHester@house.virginia.gov
  • Joesph Lindsey (D) – (804) 698-1090 – DelJLindsey@house.virginia.gov
  • David Yancey (R) – (804) 698-1094 – DelDYancey@house.virginia.gov
  • Brenda Pogge (R) – (804) 698-1096 – DelBPogge@house.virginia.gov

    Please call and e-mail as many members as you can and let them know you want HB 2238 and you want all families to be empowered in the education of their children.

    No child should be denied a quality education because of a failing school system. Help make sure all Virginians get access by calling and emailing these delegates today!

    Thank you and God bless,

    E.W. Jackson
    Unite Virginia

  • PWC School Board Sets An Example For Our Supervisors To Follow

    Our accolades to the majority of the Prince William County school board who voted to study moving to a zero-based budget process (h/t The Derecho and PWC Education Reform Blog.) Chairman Milt Johns and Board members Lisa Bell, Betty Covington, Steve Keen, Alyson Satterwhite, and Gil Trenum each deserve our thanks.  In light of the looming financial problems facing the Fairfax County school system, these six individuals supporting this move should be commended for their foresight that hopefully will help PWC avoid a similar fate.

    If the school board can eventually adopt a zero-based budget with their oversight of nearly 60% of tax revenues collected by the county, then our Board of Supervisors has no legitimate excuse as to why they couldn’t do the same for the other 40%+ of our tax dollars.  It will be interesting to watch how the county’s top governing body responds as this continues to unfold.

    Will PWC Property Taxes Skyrocket 15-20% ?

    PWC Chairman Corey Stewart was on WMAL radio out of Washington, DC on Tuesday stating that $60 million is needed to address the influx of 2,500 new students into the school system every year that has led to the largest class sizes in the Commonwealth.  Stewart said that this would require a 15-20% increase in residential property taxes, quickly noting that other ways of bridging that $60 million gap should be explored.

    There certainly is no need to further burden taxpayers with an additional 15-20% on top of what we already pay in property taxes.

    Nearly 60% of all county tax dollars in PWC go directly to the school system under a bizarre “revenue sharing” agreement that is used almost nowhere else in the country.  When it comes to spending our tax dollars, the county school board is more powerful than our Board of County Supervisors.  Our elected officals, whom we elect to supervise our tax dollars (not to supervise us despite what some of them may think), annually abdicate this responsibility for more than half of the money we pay to the county.

    The revenue sharing agreement between the BOCS and school system that does nothing but short-change our schools should be abolished.  The BOCS should instead ask the school board to present a budget to them that prioritizes reducing class-sizes and increasing teacher pay.  This will restore true BOCS oversight for the more than half of the county budget that it has turned a blind eye towards.  It will also provide the school board with a tool by which they can cut excess administrative expenses and various spending follies.

    If Prince William County were to go to zero-based budgeting and build a new budget from the ground-up that prioritized public safety (police / fire / rescue), education (schools / libraries), infrastructure (roads / water / sewer) and our park system, we could fully fund these core services at the levels they need to be funded at while holding the line on taxes.

    Gee, placing priorities on what you spend with limited funds.  Not a foreign concept for most families, but it certainly seems to be one for our county government.

    Which Middle Schools Sent the most students to TJHSST 2013

    For the second year in a row, Rachel Carson middle school  will send the most students to TJHSST.   Sixty-four Carson students have been accepted to TJ for the class of 2017,  followed by Longfellow and Rocky Run middle schools with 55 students each.  Details for all Fairfax middle school admissions to TJ for 2013 here.

    Fairfax County chooses a new School Superintendent

    For the first time FCPS has chosen a woman to lead the largest school system in Virginia with 196 schools and 181,000 students.  Karen Garza comes from a school district in Texas with 30,000 students.  She has spent 26 years as an educator and seems like a pretty typical public school superintendent.  I wouldn’t expect any sweeping changes in Fairfax schools. More here  and here.

    Virginia, education spending, and budgets

    During the great transportation-tax-love-in last month, a slew of Republican delegates and senators lamented that there was “nowhere to cut” in the Virginia budget. I can still hear Dave Albo running through the list of uncuttables.

    One item he simply glossed over was “education” – as if it were impossible to find any efficiencies there. Now, I understand that education is the holiest of holies when it comes to state funding (and local funding, too; even I avoided it when I was proposing alternatives to property tax increases in Spotsylvania), but a new dataset compiled by AEI’s Mark Perry inspired a rethink.

    Perry was comparing teachers to non-teacher-staff numbers for the fifty states, and what he found for Virginia was astonishing:

    Virginia public schools led the nation in “educrat bloat,” with 130,100 non-teaching staff compared to only 70,947 teachers. That means that there were 183.4 public school administrators and non-teaching staff for every 100 teachers, or a ratio of almost two administrators and non-teaching personnel for every one teacher!

    Yowza!

    Of course, Virginia (like most states) reroutes quite a bit of taxpayer money to localities for education: over $6.6 billion a year (VA Department of Planning and Budget). Had the Commonwealth followed the national ratio on staffer-to-teacher (roughly 1:1), it could have saved quite a bit of money.

    How much? Well, in order to figure that out, first you need to know how much Richmond spends per staffer. Since the data Perry compiled was from 2010, I went with the 2010 General Fund – Direct Aid to Localities for Education figure ($4.77B)…

    Funding  $        4,769,832,540
    Teachers                           70,947
    Non-Teachers                         130,100
    Total Staffers                         201,047
    “Wrap Rate”  $                 23,724.96

    For the uninitiated, “wrap rate” refers to all of the expenses tied to a person (wages, benefits, desk space, equipment, etc.). I mention this in order to explain why I didn’t decide to attempt to tease out capital costs spent by the recipients of the aid; for the most part, buildings and offices needed are driven by the number people on staff. Of course, the rate clearly shows that the state is not the only level of government paying for these people, which becomes important later.

    So, what would the state have spent in 2010 if the ratio were 1:1, rather than 1.83:1? Something like this…

    Total Staff 1:1                         141,894
    Cost, 1:1  $        3,366,429,832
    Savings  $        1,403,402,708
    Savings % 29%

    So the Commonwealth would have spent over $1.4B less on local school budgets had the non-teacher overage been addressed.

    Assuming the ratios still hold today, that would translate to $1.569B in annual savings – over 20% more than the annual tax increase that was supposedly needed for roads.

    Now, one could argue (and even if one didn’t, I already assumed one did) that simply cutting the state aid to local schools by $1.569B and asking the localities to cut back on non-teachers would go over like a lead balloon in courthouses and city council buildings. However, this is where the low “wrap rate” becomes relevant. Clearly, the state isn’t covering all of these staffers’ expenses; localities are partially on the hook, too. So local taxpayers would still save money if their school system pared down its non-teacher staffers.

    Still, I figured I should at least bend the ear of my friend Shaun Kenney (currently in his fourth year on the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors). This is what he had to say…

    Solution: whack the mandates that force localities to hire these bureaucrats.

    The vast majority of this is coming down from Richmond.  Many localities would LOVE to do away with state mandated positions and the like… we just can’t.  The state comes in, forces us to hire, then retracts the state contribution because they are of the strong opinion that localities are awash in cash.
    Almost half of the state mandates in Virginia directly impact education, and in many instances we have no idea what the cost or actual benefit (or negative impact) really is.
    It’s ridiculous.  And no one has the guts to kill the mandates and treat localities as adults.
    If that’s the opinion most localities share, this could be much easier than I thought.
    More to the point, when it comes to finding alternatives to the Rube Goldberg tax-hike scheme now on the Governor’s desk (or, as I like to call it, Plan ’13 From Outer Space), please note what I have found (or projected to find) just after looking at one item – and one of the most politically sacrosanct items at that. Imagine what could be found if anyone went through the other $70-odd billion that is in the Commonwealth’s annual budget!
    Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal
    UPDATE: To be fair to Virginia, they’re hardly alone in this problem
    bloat4

    Where are the Best Schools in the Washington DC area? What is Fairfax county doing that Loudoun and Prince William are not doing?

    Which public schools are the best in the DC area?  Looking at SAT scores, Fairfax county comes out on top with a large range (nearly 500 points out of 2,400) from the highest to the lowest.

    Average Combined SAT Scores 2011-2012

    Fairfax county 1659

    Montgomery county 1651

    Arlington County 1641

    Loudoun County 1590

    Prince William County 1490

    Alexandria 1436

    Prince George’s county 1274

    Washington DC 1184

    What I find to be puzzling is the differences in the number of National Merit Scholars semifinalists among these different school districts.   From the Fairfax county public school website, NMS semifinalists are described this way “Approximately 16,000 high school seniors were named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists for 2013. More than 1.5 million juniors entered the 2013 National Merit program by taking the 2011 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which serves as the initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, which represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.”  These semifinalists are the top 1% of students nationwide based on PSAT scores, the test given in 11th grade, prior to taking the SAT but very similar to the SAT.

    In September 2012, Fairfax county released their list of 227 NMS semifinalists.    While the number is down, it is still a substantial number of students, particularly when compared to surrounding counties.  Since Fairfax county is approximately 4 times the size of Loudoun County, 1.1 million vs. 312,000, with similar demographics,  I would expect that Loudoun County would have approximately one quarter of the number of NMS semifinalists or about 55 students.  Not even close.  Loudoun had only 14, down from a high of 20 in 2009.   One high school in Fairfax, Langley, had as many scholars as all of Loudoun county high schools combined.  What’s happening in Fairfax schools that is not happening in Loudoun schools?  More emphasis on academics?  Something else?  Since Loudoun is the richest county in the nation, it seems unlikely that the difference can be explained away by any demographic differences.

    Prince William county is even worse.  The population of Prince William county is one-third of its neighbor Fairfax.  So we might expect them to have somewhere around 75 National Merit scholar semi finalists.  Again, not even close.  They had 10. TEN in total!  Six Fairfax high schools each had that many, without including TJHSST!

    Arlington county fared better with 42 named scholars which is about what we might expect  from a county one-fifth the size of Fairfax.

    We would expect Montgomery County, MD to have about the same number of NMS semifinalists as Fairfax since the counties are about the same in size, with Fairfax being slightly larger while sharing similar demographics.  Again, it’s not even close.  Montgomery county had only 140 semifinalists.

    The reason that these numbers are important is because they reflect how well students are preforming in 11th grade on basic core subjects, math, reading and writing.  It also means millions of dollars in scholarship money only available through the National Merit Scholarship  program.  Most, if not all, National Merit scholars receive scholarship money, often multiple offers from multiple schools.  All northern Virginia schools had fewer scholars this year than in past years.  But the differences between Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties are truly significant and should be alarming to those who live in Loudoun and Prince William.  What is Fairfax doing in their public schools that their neighboring counties are not doing?  What’s causing this large discrepancy?

    <Cross posted at thebullelephant.com>

    Appoint Chris Royse To The PWC School Board

    There is an opening on the Prince William County School Board in the Woodbridge Dist. due to the resignation of Denita Ramirez who stepped down on account of a new job offer.  The school board will now begin the process of selecting a replacement who will serve until the seat can be permanently filled at the next general election.

    Even before he made his interest known in this position, I thought of Chris Royse.  Royse and his wife Kathy have lived in Woodbridge for years where they are raising their three children who all attend PWC schools.  One can only describe these two as involved parents concerned about the educational opportunities for their children and wanting nothing but the best for our county’s students.  Chris has waged two hard-fought campaigns for Woodbridge Dist. supervisor based upon detailed, issue-oriented platforms.  Many of the issues that he has shown great commitment to, both in those races and as a citizen, relate either directly or indirectly to education — whether it be continuing to improve our schools, job training or public safety matters.  In fact, he has served as the At-Large Representative on the School Board’s Safe Schools Advisory Council.  His professional life has prepared him well for this position, too, in particular his role in the rebuilding the earthquake shattered nation of Haiti.

    Chris Royse would be a great asset to the PWC School Board and I urge them to appoint him to represent Woodbridge.

    Obama’s Former Budget Director Blames Summer For Making Kids “Dumber and Fatter”

    President Obama’s former Budget Director Peter Orszag must be aiming to become the world’s biggest buzzkill.  He penned an op-ed for Bloomberg saying that summer makes kids “dumber and fatter.”  Wrong.

    Parents who don’t take an active involvement in their children’s lives are the ones who are responsible for making their kids dumb (and subsequently part of the Democratic voter base) and fat.   No matter a parent’s economic or social background, there is no excuse for anyone not to tell their kids to turn off the TV / computer / video game and either go play outside or read a book.  Orszag, of course, instead argues for lengthening the school year or, alternatively, creating summer programs for kids who qualify for the free lunch program. One may wish to note that there is a federal program offering free breakfasts and lunches during the summer and in many cities, including Boston, there is no need to show that kids qualify for free lunches.  In fact, it is open to ANY child as ads posted on the T subway system state.  Here is the general information from their website.

    Free Summer Meals

    From June 25-August 31, 2012, Boston children can take advantage of the Summer Food Service Program to get free, healthy breakfast and lunch.

    The Summer Food Service Program provides free meals for children ages 18 and under at nearly 150 locations throughout the city, including schools, community centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, churches, Boston Housing Authority sites, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) pools, and YMCAs.

    The Summer Food Services Program is funded by the federal government and administered by the Massachusetts Department of Education. Boston Public Schools Food & Nutrition Services Department sponsors the program locally.

    No registration or ID is required to take part in this program. To find the site closest to you, call 1-800-645-8333 or check out this map.

    Let’s clarify that:

    The Universal Breakfast and Summer Food Service Programs serve free meals to children regardless of household income.

    I’m all for feeding hungry children, but not if the parents can afford to feed their own kids.  Seriously?  “Regardless of household income”?  “Funded by the federal government”?

    So, basically, Orszag’s program most likely would be open to everyone, further encouraging lazy parenting by allowing people to shift responsibility to the government for the care, feeding and well-being of their children.

    Summer isn’t to blame.  It is condescending bureaucrats such as yourself, Mr. Orszag, and any parents who are complicit via their indifference.

    Someone needs to introduce this guy to Phineas and Ferb quick!

    You, sir, are a Class-A Doofenshmirtz…

    Did Charges Of “Scientific Misconduct” Play A Part In Teresa Sullivan’s Dismissal From UVA?

    In all the swirling storm and controversy over the dismissal of Teresa Sullivan from UVA, one factor has not been widely discussed.  Did alleged “scientific misconduct” play a role in the decision to terminate her?

    In 1989, Ms. Sullivan co-authored a book with now-MA Dem Sen. candidate Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren and Jay Westbrook entitled, “As We Forgive Our Debtors: Bankruptcy and Consumer Credit in America.”  A Rutgers University Law Review article written by a faculty member found that

    co-authors jumped to conclusions, proclaimed new findings which were not new, and most importantly, ignored or did not accurately reflect data…. Professor Shuchman went even further (at pp. 243-244), and suggested that the data was presented in such a way as to preclude verification.

    To explain this in a little greater detail:

    Sullivan, Warren, and Westbrook deployed a research methodology that was apparently contrary to the methodology they stated they would use in their National Science Foundation (NSF) grant proposal, which financed their research. After they received their funding, they chose to apply “human subject safeguards” by removing identifying information (case number, petitioner name, and a subsequent “identifier” they added) from the raw data files used in the study–over  1,500 bankruptcy records, each one containing over 200 fields of information (such as assets, liabilities, homeownership, marital status, etc.) That change in methodology made their research data, in effect, unverifiable.

    Documents obtained from the NSF suggest that the “human subject safeguard standards” that Warren, Sullivan, and Westbrook imposed on their data were never approved of by that agency, were not consistent with the law, and were never known to the NSF until after the book had been published and Shuchman’s complaint filed.

    A rushed investigation was done into these charges that supposedly exonerated the authors (although the report was kept secret), but now it turns out that investigation was “error-filled” itself.  As a result, these charges of “scientific misconduct” against Sullivan and her co-authors are now termed “unanswered and unresolved.”  Not exactly the type of thing that you want hanging over the head of the President of UVA.

    Political Correctness has taken over TJHSST

    Over the last few years, the admission office at TJHSST has tried valiantly to make the school the perfect mix of races, and intelligence.  TJ can only admit 450 students a year while more than 3,000 apply.   In the school’s never ending, politically correct, race based goals, the admission office now admits  at least one-third of the students randomly and randomly rejects that many too.  Some of the best math students in the county are excluded and some of the worst are admitted.  Most important in admission is a politically correct essay, not math ability or math grades.  That has resulted in 1/3 of the TJ students needing remedial help in math and science.  Let’s remember, it’s called Thomas Jefferson high school for Science and Technology.  It was set up to educate our best and our brightest math and science students, those who needed more than their base high schools had to offer in the science and math fields.  Their educational needs could not be met in their regular high schools.  It was a way to educate future pioneers in the fields of medicine, engineering, and science.  Until the late 1990’s, the school did just that.   It was an amazing place, filled with students  who lived for math and science and computer science and couldn’t get enough of it.   They worked hard and loved every minute of it.

    One of those teachers who was most loved by the best math and science students, was Dr. John Dell.   The top students couldn’t wait to take his AP physics course during their junior year.   Dr. Dell  has taught AP physics, among other physics subjects, for over 20 years.  He is so good, he went to MIT to teach for two years, and then returned to TJ because he wanted to work with these bright, enthusiastic, high school students.   Dr. Dell recently shared his views about the new TJ in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.  Among other things he says “The old Jefferson was never a route to increased STEM achievement in the general school population. Rather, it was created to nurture promising STEM students at just the point where such students come into their real power — where their brains are literally fired up and ready to go. The regional commitment to the old Jefferson, tenuous from the start, has finally been overwhelmed by other agendas. A genuine success has been followed by political failure to embrace and sustain it…..At the new Jefferson, students are no longer selected primarily on the basis of their promise in science, technology and mathematics. One-third of the students entering Jefferson under the current admissions policy are in remediation in their math and science courses.”

    Today, Senator Warner announced a new, bipartisan, bill to encourage job growth.   He said  “Too few American college students are pursuing advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. So Startup Act 2.0 would, in effect, staple a green card to the diplomas of foreign-born students earning advanced STEM degrees who can demonstrate they are willing to remain in the United States to apply their talents here and create new jobs.”

    Obviously the US is not educating enough of our students so that they are prepared to major in  science, technology, engineering and math in college.  With their politically correct admission goals,  TJ has decreased even further the number of American students who will be educated well enough to major in STEM fields by their policy of admitting students who need remedial help in math, rather than admitting those who could truly benefit from the TJ experience.  Not educating such students has lead our Congress to try to find ways to IMPORT students who are prepared major in STEM fields because the US desperately needs them.

    My question, why is the US allowing political correctness to dictate education to this extent?  Why aren’t we educating our best and our brightest across the country so that they are prepared to major in STEM fields?   Why do we permit large school districts like Fairfax to adopt more and more dumbed down math curriculum, like Everyday Math?  Even worse, Prince William adopted Math Investigations.   With all the controversy surrounding that terrible math program, Loudoun county promptly adopted the same, flawed, math program, with all new math textbooks and teacher training, while begging the school board for more funding because they had no money to do anything!  It would appear that dumbing down math is THE MOST important education goal in our country.   If other countries can teach math right, well enough for their students to succeed in STEM in our colleges, why can’t we do it in the US?  The answer is simple, we CAN do it, but we CHOOSE not to.  We have allowed political correctness, and liberalism, to dominate our educational system, and these are among the causalities, schools like TJ, and the teaching of real math.  Even worse, we are wasting our best and brightest students in the never ending, liberal, goal of proving that all students are equal, equally bright,  and equally motivated to succeed.  If we have no difficult math and sciences courses, everyone will appear to be equal, equally ignorant and equally uneducated. but equal.  But it’s the appearance of equality across all races, genders, and income levels, that is most important, even at the expense of our students and our country’s future.    Right?

    What a waste for our students and for our country.  If we continue down this path, who will be the next Bill Gates and Steve Jobs?  The next Jonas Salk?  The next Edison?  Our people are our best resource and we could be educating them to excel, but we’re not.  Shame on us.

    Another letter to the editor on this subject here.

    Fauquier County Schools Superintendent Should Go.

    As budget decision time for the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors nears, I wrote this letter to the Editor of the Fauquier Times Democrat. The focus of the entire county has been the school budget proposal put forth by Dr. Lewis, Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Lewis’ proposed budget would increase the school budget by $5 million, and many feel it is primarily intended to fund controversial diversity and other social engineering programs that Dr. Lewis has implemented.

    After the 1 Feb letter by Dr. Lewis which was printed in the FTD I wrote a reply which was also printed in which I said this, “The Superintendent is attempting to enlist teachers and sympathetic citizens to force the BoS to do the dirty work of extorting more money from the taxpayers… “

    After the recent Public Hearing at Fauquier HS it is clear I am clairvoyant. The teachers acting as one, sent speaker after speaker to the podium to plead for full funding of the school budget by the BoS, and several made the case for a tax increase including one gentleman who said he could afford a 3 cent per hundred increase in property taxes, and didn’t see why we couldn’t all afford the same.

    Unfortunately we are looking at a much larger increase than 3 cents (3 percent roughly) to the $0.97/$100 property tax rate currently in effect. Fully funding the proposed school budget requires an increase of 5 million which equates to a 5 percent increase in property taxes.

    If we fully fund the school budget then we must fully fund a raise for other county employees who have not had one for the last few years, and additional staffing for Sheriff, EMS, and Dispatch as well; after all aren’t we all for the safest community possible for our children to grow up in?

    Add in these costs and we are looking at a 10 percent increase in property taxes according to Mr. McCulla who was recently quoted in the FTD on this subject.

    In these times of economic strife, a 10 percent increase in property taxes is more than many families including some teachers, will be able to bear.

    Dr. Lewis started this “kerfuffle” by proposing an unrealistic budget and threatening to cut key educational programs, sports and other activities, and flat lining teacher salaries. This had the desired effect of riling up the teachers and the community in opposition to the BoS resistance to raising taxes in the current economic climate.

    So what do we have now?

    A battle just as predicted. One in which the Superintendent is standing on the sidelines cheering for the teachers and one half the community to force the BoS to accept his budget and raise taxes against the better judgment of the BoS and the other half of the community. A battle where the Superintendent is also trying to stir animosity between school administrators and School Board members, toward one particular member of the BoS to try to get his way.

    Is this the kind of Superintendent of Schools that Fauquier County needs or deserves? One that instead of leading and working within the available budget chooses to divide the community in a bitter fight over raising taxes at a time when many are struggling to pay their mortgages, just so he can get his way?

    Maybe it is time for the School Board to make a tough decision and find a new Superintendent for our schools; one that will more closely represent the goals and values of the citizens of Fauquier County.

    Northern Virginia 2011 SAT scores

    SAT Scores for Arlington (red), Fairfax (blue) and Loudoun (green).

    TJ 2184
    Langley 1819
    McLean 1772
    Woodson 1750
    Madison 1746
    Oakton 1733
    Yorktown 1724
    Marshall 1672
    Lake Braddock 1665 
    Robinson 1663 
    Stone Bridge 1655 
    Fairfax 1638 
    West Springfield 1632 
    Westfield 1627 
    Chantilly 1626 
    Loudoun Valley 1624
    Herndon 1613 
    Briar Woods 1611
    Centreville 1611 
    Washington-Lee 1609
    Dominion 1608
    Loudoun County

    Heritage 1581

    Broad Run 1573
    South County 1573 
    Potomac Falls 1571
    South Lakes 1568 
    Freedom 1567
    West Potomac 1550
    Edison 1522 
    STATE AVERAGE 1516
    Annandale 1514
    NATIONAL AVERAGE 1500
    Hayfield 1498 
    Lee 1498 
    Stuart 1487 
    Falls Church 1467 
    Mount Vernon 1463
    Wakefield 1452
    Park View 1427

    Michael Barone Warns Of The Coming Higher Education Bubble Burst

    I’ve been telling people this for years and now Michael Barone has picked up on it, too.

    Here is what I said more than two years ago:

    Like anything else, colleges react to market forces.  If they can charge more for a product, they will.  If we haven’t already, we will soon see a “college tuition bubble” akin to the housing and dotcom bubbles.  Why has college tuition continued to skyrocket over the past 20 years or so?  Because college administrators figure that students can get Pell grants, student loans and other kinds of financial assistance to help pay the exorbitant tuition they charge.  The more the government “helps” students, the more colleges can charge and then well-intentioned people turn right around and decide that students must have access to more money to pay for that higher tuition.  It is a vicious cycle that feeds upon itself creating runaway inflation in the education sector.

    . . .

    Getting back to college tuition.  It is an outrage that people have to spend decades of their lives just paying off their student loans instead of saving to buy a first-home or a new car, putting money into a retirement account or even socking something away for their own children’s college education.  Government providing more funding for college aid doesn’t make it more affordable.  It only leads to higher tuition.

    And here is Barone now:

    Now some people see signs that another bubble is bursting. They call it the higher education bubble.

    For years government has assumed it’s a good thing to go to college. College graduates tend to earn more money than non-college graduates.

    Politicians of both parties have called for giving everybody a chance to go to college, just as they called for giving everybody a chance to buy a home.

    So government has been subsidizing higher education with low-interest college loans, Pell Grants and cheap tuitions at state colleges and universities.

    The predictable result is that higher-education costs have risen much faster than inflation, much faster than personal incomes, much faster than the economy over the past 40 years.

    The Fed. Gov’t is finally running out of other people’s money and the bubble is now closer than ever to bursting.

    Fairfax Democrats choose School Board candidates

    Fairfax county democrats have endorsed their candidates for School Board for November. Ilryong Moon, Charisse Espy Glassman and Ted Velkoff will run for the three at large seats.

    In the district races, the following candidates have been endorsed:

    Jane K.Strauss – Dranesville
    Patricia Hynes – Hunter Mill
    Sandra Evans – Mason
    Megan McLaughlin – Braddock
    Tamara Derenak Kaufax – Lee
    Daniel Storck – Mt Vernon
    John Wittman – Springfield
    Kathy Smith – Sully

    I am very surprised that Maria Allen was not endorsed to run in Hunter Mill or at large. She’s been very active in Hunter Mill schools for more than a decade.

    Republicans have an excellent candidate in Hunter Mill, Nancy Linton, a school counselor and PTA President. In Dranesville we are lucky to have Louise Epstein, current PTA President at TJHSST. Louise has been active in schools for over a decade and has helped hundreds of parents navigate the system. It’s time to retire Janie Strauss, 16 years is enough!

    No They Couldn’t

    From the “Yes We Can!” to “No They Couldn’t…” category:

    Asbury Park New Jersey’s Barack H. Obama Elementary School is closing due to low academic achievement, declining enrollment and fiscal problems — sort of a microcosm of the Obama Administration itself.

    Take heart, though, Obama lovers.

    The district plans to keep the Obama name as it uses the school building in a different way.

    The long-term plan calls for the building to be used to house administrative offices — again a microcosm of the Obama Administration.

    You just can’t make this stuff up.

    Do Women Need More assistance?

    In 2009 President Obama established a Council on Women and Girls. “The Council’s mission is to provide a coordinated Federal response to the challenges confronted by women and girls and to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies consider how their policies and programs impact women and families.” The council has issued a report, “Women in America” with these chapters (among others) in the table of contents:

    1. Women’s gains in educational attainment have significantly outpaced those of
    men over the last 40 years

    2. Higher percentages of women than men age 25–34 have earned a college degree

    3. More women than men have received a graduate education

    4. Women earn the majority of conferred degrees overall but earn fewer degrees
    than men in science and technology

    5. Higher percentages of women than men participate in adult education

    6. After decades of significant increases, the labor force participation rate for
    women has held steady in recent years

    7. Unemployment rates for women have risen less than for men in
    recent recessions

    8. More women than men work part time, and women and men have roughly
    equal access to flexible work schedules

    9. Women have longer life expectancy than men, but the gap is decreasing.

    (A Hat tip to my researcher and Carpe Diem blog.)

    My researcher also found this chart of median annual earnings for men and women from 1964 until 2009. The trends are rather obvious:

    More information in the NY Times article “The Struggles of Men”.

    The current unemployment rate, February 2011
    Adult Men: 8.8%
    Adult Women: 7.9%

    Was Laura Bush right, do we need to focus our attention on helping boys and men?
    So it would appear.

    BREAKING: PWC School Board Names New Middle School For Ronald Reagan

    In an effort to find middle ground in the minor skirmish that has erupted over the possibility of the PWC School Board bypassing the naming committee’s suggestion of Piney Branch Elementary School for the new school opening on the Linton Hall Road, a compromise has reportedly been reached.  At tonight’s School Board meeting, the board will make a motion to name the new elementary school Piney Branch as was suggested by the naming committee and simultaneously move to name the new middle school Ronald Reagan Middle School, bypassing the creation of a naming committee altogether.

    More to come…

    UPDATE: From PWC Public Schools

    Tonight, the School Board approved the name of Piney Branch Elementary School for the new school under construction on Linton Hall Road (which will open this fall) and in the same vote approved Ronald Wilson Reagan Middle School as the name for the school under construction at Silver Lake (which will open in the fall of 2012).

    PWC School Bd. To Vote On Reagan Elementary Name Tonight

    I would urge all of you to please get behind this citizen grassroots effort.  In this the centennial year of Ronald Reagan’s birthday, with celebrations going on all over the country all year long, what better timer to pay homage to one of the greatest Americans of all time, regardless of political persuasions.  May I remind everyone that upon re-election to his second term he received 59% of the popular vote and 97.5 % of the electoral vote, the most in history!!  He lifted the dark cloud of immenent nuclear threat and gave the whole world a sigh of relief.  He was a shining example of honor, high moral character, righteousness and had an unabiding faith in the American people’s exceptionalism and, his and our “Shining city on a hill”.  Don’t you think it is about time we gave at least some of our children such an example to look to and footsteps to aspire to fill?

    Please contact your school board members and Chairman right away, at the e-mail addresses listed, below and urge them to approve the naming of the new elementary school on Linton Hall Rd as the “Ronald Reagan Elementary School”.  There is a school board meeting on Wednesday 3/2/2011 evening to consider this topic.

    Thank You So Much,

    Tom Whitmore

    PWCRC Vice Chairman

    P.S. Last evening the Prince William Republican Committee by unanimous Acclaim approved a resolution to endorse the naming of this new elementary school on Linton Hall Rd as the “Ronald Reagan Elementary School”!

    Chairman
    Johns.jpg Milt Johns
    8243 Crackling Fire Drive
    Gainesville, VA 20155
    703 -753-6838 Office, Fax
    MiltEsq@aol.com
    Official Website


    Brentsville District
    trenum1-08.jpg Gil Trenum
    12038 Hooker Ln.
    Nokesville, VA  20181
    703.594.2492
    GTRENUM@pwcs.edu
    Official website:
    Coles District
    Otaigbe08.jpg Michael Otaigbe
    14261 Silverdale Dr.
    Woodbridge, VA  22193
    703-590-8493
    MOTAIGBE@pwcs.edu
    Official Website:
    Gainesville District
    Richardson08-1.jpg Don Richardson
    4255 Misty Ridge Drive
    Haymarket VA 20169
    (O) 703-753-6551  (H) 703-754-4052
    don.richardson@erols.com
    Official Website


    Neabsco District
    LisaBell4-2010.jpg Lisa Bell
    P.O. Box 6562
    Woodbridge, VA 22195
    571.285.2113
    LBELL@pwcs.edu
    Official Website


    OccoquanDistrict, Vice Chairman
    lattin1-08.jpg Grant Lattin
    11970 Shorewood Ct
    Woodbridge, VA 22192-1412
    LattinforSchools@aol.com.
    Official Website

    Thanks Again,

    Tom