Discuss the Real Issue in the DPVA Race, Not a Sideshow


    by Paul Goldman

    While I respect those who believe the DPVA Chair should be a full-time salaried position, this would a huge change with great ripple effects in Democratic and state politics, one that shouldn’t be decided in the heat of the current campaign. Moreover, it is a side bar issue, just another way to pretend to be discussing important matters relative to the DPVA chair without having to address real issues indeed the reason there is even a race for Chair in my view.  

    If candidates don’t want to address the real issues, that’s fine. But a party is supposed to stand for issues: and there is no bigger issue, as the President says, than how to fix our failing schools, which if not corrected, will make us a second class world economic power in your lifetime.  

    Every independent measure says Virginia statistics on education are hiding, and knowingly so, the true state of learning among our young people, this not being my personal view, but read the studies, year after year, it isn’t just Virginia, it is a national scandal.  


    30% of high school graduates flunk the military entrance exam because they can’t read or do math at a roughly 9-10th grade level, even after the tests have been made easier. The 30% who go to college instead can’t do first year course work without remedial help!!

    In my city of Richmond, the leading independent study called our K-12 system a “dropout factory”, yet Mayor Jones and City Educators cites statistics that suggest Richmond is graduating students at rates that far exceed the national average in certain categories. Yet when these kids try to get into college, the evidence that I have seen tells quite a different story.

    I am to just pretend it doesn’t exist, stop discussing it, writing about it, just say because those in charge don’t seem to mind – Richmond’s poverty rate is DOUBLE that of Mississippi among African-Americans as I recently discussed in an article in a local weekly – and instead focus on whether the Democratic Party Chair should get a salary?

    Surely at some point somebody or some group has to say: enough is enough already, we can’t keep feeding the same system new billions. The state has never even bothered to do a study on these for-profit schools, to check what they are doing.

    But, you say: the state isn’t giving them any money. However, these schools need state certification to be eligible to receive all these billions in federal student loan dollars, 80-90% of their total revenue (25% which goes for marketing according to Senator Durbin).

    Instead of working harder to fix our K-12 schools, we are perpetuating a myth, putting up billions so we can pretend that the students at these for-profit schools can do the work, even though the graduation and other statistics tell a different truth. This way, we can pretend the High Schools are working, heck these kids have a shot at the American dream, and Uncle Sugar is paying for it for that reason, why would we if it weren’t true?

    So since we are willing to spend huge billions perpetuating this myth, and Wall Street has figured out that it is worth billions to the companies and more billions to stock traders, they keep fighting for the dollars.

    And why not, if even the Democratic Party doesn’t care, and systems like Richmond, which is over 90% African-American, mostly from families with modest means, don’t care either?

    If this is an issue that doesn’t bother folks that’s fine, the United Negro College Fund and others have had to overcome worse apathy over the years.

    But pulling an educational hoax on a whole generation of poor kids, now that is substantive thing that real Democrats would have not been afraid to openly discuss in years past.

    You could say: It’s an important issue Goldy, but not for a race for Party Chair.

    My response: At least that would be an honest answer. I might disagree but I could understand the reasoning.  

    • against the Obama administration’s attempt to rein in the for-profit “education” industry. Lovely, huh?

    • Teddy Goodson

      While I found the statistics and the arguments about Virginia’s schools interesting, I have to say, it has no direct relationship to the supposed topic, which was whether or not the position of Chair of DPVA whould be a full-time position.

      I disagree with your statement that the proposal of making the position a permanent salaried position is not pertinent at this time, and that such a discussion should be postponed because of the “heat of the current campaign.” I believe now is the absolutely most appropriate time for such a discussion. If not now, when? It is definitely not a side-bar issue. Tackling education is the side-bar issue, and it is one of many that Virginia Democrats will be tackling… like budget, transportation, jobs, environment. These can all be better addressed once we have a good administrator and capable leader in place.

    • Tom

      My strongest objection to Goldman’s arguments, obviously skewed heavily in favor of Moran for what reason(s) I have not yet determined, is that contrary to what Goldman seems to be implying is that being chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia is a very, very full time job. Claiming otherwise ignores the fact that we have not had a full-time chair since I became active in partisan politics after 38 years in Fed. civil service when I joined Jim Webb’s 2006 campaign. At no time has Dickie Cranwell ever shown any serious interest in spending the time and energy to keep in close contact with all 134 Dem. City/County committees. This kind of strategy that is essential to restoring Dem. party strength, not to mention helping with recruiting new Dem. candidates in every jurisdiction, requires frequent travel (the chair can’t possibly get to know even the committee chairs, much less potential candidates via telephone or e-mail contacts)and a person who is either unable or unwilling to commit to a full-time effort is effectively saying he/she will delegate the large majority of what amounts to the core duties of the “CEO” of the DPVA. No amount of diversion from this most important aspect of the job will change the facts – it is not an honorary part time job, it is a very full time job that no one who already has a full time paid executive level job can possibly perform.

      The DPVA Central Committee has to decide if we need a figure-head chair who has no alternative but to delegate the majority of the chair’s duties to others or if we need a chair who can devote all of his time and energy to the difficult tasks (and they are multiple/complex tasks). I would suggest that the CC voting members consider their decision as if they were the selecting officials for a civil service job (and that’s really what it is): Will the select an applicant who says he will work full time or will they select an applicant who can’t commit to being available whenever needed (which is all the time).

      Done right with any chance of success, the DPVA chair can’t be a part-time job, paid or not. If we can settle for “not done right” that means we are willing to settle for losing more elections and just giving up. I’m too passionate and too damn stubborn to give up when I know that a resounding turnaround is within our grasp in 2011, 2012 and 2013 when we once again elect a Democratic governor; but only if we elect the right person as state party leader.


    • Tom

      If we are to ever have an effective DPVA, the chair must be in a position to unequivocally commit to committing full time dedication to all the functions inherent in this position, whether or not the DPVA someday might have enough financial resources to make it a salaried position.

      As I’ve said in a related post, the choice is whether we want the job done right and if it has to be treated as a very full time job involving frequent travel across the state or if we are willing to settle for “not done right” and give up on taking back the momentum from the Repugs. There is no middle ground that I have seen described, we either have a full time chair whose time and energy are 100% dedicated to winning elections or we don’t. I don’t think the decision in this context is hard at all. We simply can’t afford to elect what amounts to an honorary chair whose paid “day job” demands leave him with no choice but to delegate the majority of the chair’s designated core functions when the Central Committee has a better alternative in the person of a candidate who has already specifically committed to full time devotion to duties (all of them).