Health & Education

Looking for Answers to the Autism Epidemic in all the Wrong Places

Joan Swirsky

February 10, 2015

Last March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (CDC) released its latest data on autism. After surveying medical and school records from 11 states, the CDC found that autism has more than doubled since the new century began only 14 years ago. Today the condition affects one out of 68 children – five times as many boys as girls. Alarmingly, there was a 30 percent climb in its incidence between 2008 and 2010.

The powers-that-be at the CDC once again trotted out the age-old rationales to explain this bizarre finding:

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Time to Act if You Support Parental Choice in Virginia

If you support parent choice in education, it is time for Virginia voters to act

By Kristin L. Allen, President, Virginia Education Coalition, LLC

This year, Del. Dave LaRock (R-33) has introduced a bill in the General Assembly – HB2238, Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts – as a means to expand parental choice in education in Virginia. Last week, this bill passed the House Appropriations Committee on a vote of 16-4. It goes to the House floor, this week.

The bill is being opposed by the Virginia Education Association (VEA), the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA), and others, who claim it’s nothing more than an education voucher program – a way of giving parents public monies that will be used to fund private schools –and “[w]e do not need to be creating a new entitlement in Virginia when we cannot afford to fund existing obligations such as public education.” Continue reading


Parental Choice in Education Has a Positive Effect on Public Education

By Kristin L. Allen, Virginia Education Coalition, LLC

Opponents to parental choice in education assert that choice will eventually lead to the disintegration of the entire system of public education. This will not happen. Surveys of voting Virginia parents suggest that 42 percent prefer public school for their child and would not consider any other mode of education even if tax credits, vouchers, savings accounts, or other mechanisms were passed into law. In other words, a point exists beyond which private schools, home school, or other options, will never be a choice for a significant segment of the population, and therefore, public schools will remain viable but will have to compete for students. Continue reading


A Path Forward: Parental Choice in Education

by Kristin L. Allen, Virginia Education Coalition, LLC

Parents have a dim view of American education’s direction. According to Jason Bedrick in “Americans Want Choice, Not Government Mandates” (EducationNext, June 2014),

Nearly six out of ten say that K-12 education is on the ‘wrong track’ compared with only one-third who said it is going the ‘right-direction’.

Virginia parents’ concerns are founded. Over the past 40 years, the cost of Virginia K-12 education has risen 20% in inflation adjusted dollars, while SAT scores – a measure of a student’s ability to be successful in college – have remained flat or declined. Education as a whole consumes more than one-third of the state’s budget.

In fact, no correlation exists between Virginia’s increased spending and academic achievement. In September 2014, the Richmond Times Dispatch reported that more than 30% of Virginia K-12 schools fail to meet full accreditation standards. Continue reading


VA Legislation Must Stop Common Core

Fairfax Free Citizen Editorial by Jane Hogan

Algebra equation

Working algebraic expressions requires basic math skills (Wikipedia Image)

Virginia’s problem isn’t whether the Standards of Learning (SOLs) do or don’t contain Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The trouble is using the methodology that goes with them, their adoption in some of the local school districts, and their prevalence in new texts and instructional materials. Va legislation can stop Common Core.

Chesterfield Schools in their new Project Based Learning Master Plan formally adopt CCSS, as is seen on page 15 of the 384-page plan.

CCSS methodology is already shown in sample lessons found in different subjects and grades on the Virginia Department of Education website.  Continue reading


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