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McDonnell facing brilliant veto strategy of Virginia progressives


By Paul Goldman

Progressives especially education progressives want the Governor to veto a bill requiring 30 minutes of daily physical education on average. These progressive education groups and leaders say K-12 system can’t handle it without hurting academics. Based on available statistics, those progressive educational advocates have come up with a brilliant, inspired political strategy to challenge the Governor.

Bobby Fischer never played the chess board better. Machiavelli would have included it in his famous work.

Terry McAuliffe needs to hire all of you to run his campaign for Governor. He can’t lose. Let me explain.

According to Virginia’s progressive education leaders, our children have never  had it better in the classroom, learning more, graduating on time at record rates, especially in systems like my hometown of Richmond. They say this gym mandate threatens to destroy all this progress unless accompanied with more money and whatever.

Strangely though, these glowing reports of progress used by VA Governors, lawmakers, school board, state education leaders to praise themselves don’t seem to impress non-political data collectors. Read reports available on the Internet. The military has data proving  30% of American’s high school graduates can’t pass the mental part of their entrance exam even after it being intentionally made easier.  Actually, 75% of our kids can’t qualify for the military, the others mostly due to being in such poor physical shape, the army is afraid of getting sued if required to do a one mile hike. Oh yes:  the Army has lowered the physical test requirements, putting higher priority on being able to sit still and play a video game well.

In addition, 30% of those high school graduates instead going to college are unable to do first year work according to widely accepted data from non-partisan college level groups.

Now I know what you are going to say: “But Paul, there is no proof this is true in Virginia. We are the best, just look at all the reports for state government and the state legislature.”

I hear that from leaders in my hometown of Richmond, considered rather typical of most of the country by independent analysts. According to the Mayor, legislators and the school board,  65-70% of kids graduate from high school on time, and the schools have never done better on accreditation tests.

That is roughly the same percentage as New York City, long a leader in public education. Fortunately for Richmond specifically and Virginia localities generally, the state has refused to adopt a real test of knowledge such as the Regents exam in New York State. Unlike the SOLs and other test developed to pat educators on the back  – by the way, Glen Dovi, a reporter in Richmond, recently exposed on they have made the same level of knowledge score a lot higher know on the SOLs – the Regents tests real knowledge.

Surprise, surprise: A recent bombshell report by state leaders caught Mayor Bloomberg and city educators speechless. It appears only about 25% of New York City high school seniors –  you know the one’s graduating on time at a 65-70% rate – scored high enough to be considered to have shown 12th grade level competence. But not to worry about the Big Apple: Rochester’s kids had a 5% pass rate, other major cities in the teens.

But again, I know what you are going to say:  “That’s New York State, there is no proof the same thing is happening here.”

That’s true: And the reason we don’t dare give the Regents exam to Virginia’s graduating seniors this May.

Do you ever wonder why politicians so happy with results don’t demand to learn how well these kids do when they get to college, or insist on a Regen-like exam, say tied to scholarships for those passing?

No wonder graduation rates at for-profit colleges in the single digits are considered acceptable for giving these school tens of billions of dollars of state and federal tax dollars.

Arne Duncan, the education secretary said recently he believes 80% of the nation’s schools will fail to meet the new minimum standards for certification.

Therefore, let me be the first to praise all you progressives on a brilliant strategy. Truth is, you are secretly hoping the Governor will sign the bill. This will provide a built in “We told you so” to gym requirement when educational leaders are finally held accountable.

On the other hand, if McDonnell does veto the measure, then progressives also get to say “We told you so”

as he agrees with you.


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