To the Editor: The Condition of Our Schools


Congrats to ACPS for blowing past the price of $20,000/student (2024) to educate them…though using the word “educate” is being pretty generous. What us old timers have suspected about our schools (we already know that kids were coming out pretty ignorant) had to be confirmed, not by the teachers, principals, or administrators who are running some sort of protectionist racket masquerading as the public school system, but by a student, Shea Hale, who had to suffer years of all the nonsense that goes into making ACPS all it can be.

Everybody has seen the local used car dealer commercial where “Everybody Rides!” Well, ACPS liked that riff so much that they adopted it, making a slight change: “Everybody Passes!”…and you’ll get a pretty decent grade to boot, as the young Miss Hale pointed out at a school board meeting that was reported on by this newspaper.

The highlights brought to light by the AHS student:

1) Unlimited mulligans (do overs) on test-taking. Nothing prepares young people for the real world better than making them think they have an unlimited number of chances to do stuff (like their future jobs) correctly.

2) No homework. This I agree with (Ha!). In all seriousness, homework prepares you for when you take the initiative and decide at some point late in life to become an adult so that you can better accept playtime being displaced by responsibility time.

3) 50% credit for not doing schoolwork. This one even makes the participation trophy look good. This is because participants participate; students evidently don’t.

4) Disciplinary write-ups by teachers that school admin. does nothing about. Solving this problem is multi-faceted, though, culturally, two-parent households (instead of single ones) would naturally tend to moderate acting out (behaving badly in public) by children. In lieu of that, the status quo will remain, that is, disruption will not be much discouraged in ACPS. Incidentally, is there any legitimate reason why there are no cameras in the classroom with which the public, i.e., taxpayer, may view the class culture, live, so that they may see what a $20,000 ACPS education looks like these days?

Though the motivated Albemarle HS senior, Miss Hale, is, no doubt, truth-telling from personal experience, her mother, a teacher at the same school, no doubt, has her child’s ear as well as the ears of whoever else may be at their dinner table. Many, many people who are intimately associated with ACPS employees know all about the abject disgrace that passes as “education” in these schools, but do you ever hear anything from them or the employees? No, because not only is it a good paycheck with great benefits and retirement, you always circle the wagons to protect your own. Likewise, you never hear judges say a bad word about the misinterpretation of a law by other judges, or doctors about poor medical treatment by other doctors, scientists about the bad research done by other scientists, journalists about phony or slanted news stories of other journalists, etc.

Yep, there’s a lot of silence out there in the ranks, which tells you that their jobs and, therefore, the awful policies they implement are way more important than your kid will ever be. And, still, let’s not forget that it’s only costing the taxpayer north of 20 grand/year for this look-the-other-way treatment.

Speaking of the ranks, I wonder how many retired teachers have chosen greater Charlottesville as their place of repose. And, of those, how many of them read an article like this that reinforces in them the sentiment, “I am so glad I am no longer a part of that madness!”(AKA today’s public school system). Who couldn’t agree with them? But, as many of them are property owners and, therefore, taxpayers, you’d think they could show up at county public meetings and raise a stink (bolstered by their credentials) about the system’s feckless effect on students, not to mention the associated waste of taxpayer money (did I mention it’s over 20 grand per?). My question: Why is it up to the children (in this case, Shea Hale) to be the ones to say, “The Emperor has no clothes?”

Of course, things won’t be changing much after the recent election of Spillman over Bryce. On NBC 29 when describing their vision for ACPS, Spillman put feelings before education. Bryce talked only about education (you can read all about it at

No election do-overs here. But, in the end the people always get what they want; free babysitting for the munchkins—and if they learn something: BONUS! And ACPS is more than willing to abide. Speaking of elections, and with regard to all the money and all the votes of support for ACPS during all those years while serving on the Board of Supervisors, I wonder if in the head of Ann Mallek there is even one scintilla of buyer’s remorse rolling around in there.

One more thing. This fixation on stopping bullying is misguided and a disservice to these kids and our country’s future. It is critical that children have bullies in their lives for their own development. You can’t change human behavior; knowing how to deal with bullies is a tool that must be learned because they will always exist in school, at work, in the neighborhood, online, in government, in other countries. Creating generations of mostly compliant lambs may be an attempt at making schooling (and governmenting) easier, but those lambs will not have the mental capacity to defend this country if necessary.

Robert Butler


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