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October 12, 2017

Posted 2017-10-12

    From the Virginia Department of Education we have the results of the 2016-2017 Standards of Learning testing released Aug. 15, 2017.

    Out of seven counties listed in the Shenandoah Valley, can someone with authority in our school system explain to us via this paper why Shenandoah County is well below the state average in every category? And why is our county last among the other six surrounding counties?

Shenandoah County       State average

Reading    69%    80%

Writing    72%    79%

Math    72%    79%

Science    80%    82%

History    82%    86%

    Reading is the biggest gap of all. Why can’t we teach reading well when you might need reading someday? How can you do well with the other tests if you have trouble reading?

    The union and the bureaucrats will tell you it’s because they don’t have money. I say nuts. Last time I saw the numbers we were very competitive with our other six counties on dollars spent per student. We will, however, hear that bellow we always hear every year about more money, more money.

    Is it the quality of our school infrastructure, buildings and plant? Don’t think so. Every time I have visited the Central campus the schools look great outside, are spotless, fresh and bright inside with roomy halls and classrooms. I don’t know much about capital improvement plans and their funding versus the annual budget’s appropriation for maintenance, upkeep and replacement. One would hope that is well planned out and the plan is closely followed to maintain high standards.

    Is it the quality of our teachers, the mix of administrators versus those teachers, or the leadership of those teachers and departments all the way to the top? The more than 1,000 employees of the school system for about 6,000 students may be a fair ratio, I don’t know, but that is 16 students per employee — including bus drivers, cafeteria and administrative support people. Is the ratio of teachers to students right? Are good teachers rewarded and bad teachers fixed somehow or sent down the hall to run a desk? Don’t know that either, but there’s always talk of not being able to excuse someone from the payroll because of the union.

    Is it the quality of our students? That’s a tough question, what with some parents so involved with surviving and doing the best they can to provide for their families and others that are not involved much at all with their kids’ progress. The self-motivated kids will always do well and that is a testament to their home life and their inside school and outside guidance. I sure saw some great kids at the county fair. The schools are a critical asset in any community and they have a monumental job doing their part educating (and raising) the next generations. Are we focused on the problems?

    How much of the problem is the curriculum we are forced to teach?

    I don’t have any answers because I am an old man now, but it sure bothers me to be last at anything. Maybe somebody in the school system can give these questions some thought and look at the way they do business. We can do better: Where are the deficiencies and how do we fix them without gobs of more money? I humbly suggest the funds we give could probably be spent more wisely.

    When you’re last, you’re not competing in a world full of competition. Our kids need to do better and the schools and the parents are the biggest factors. Let’s fix what’s obviously broken.

Stephen H. Larrabee

St. Luke


    The television ad sponsored by Ed Gillespie says Democrat Ralph Northam was the deciding vote in favor of sanctuary cities that let dangerous illegal immigrants back on the streets. When I saw the ad and the “tweet” by President Donald Trump, I decided to investigate the information.

    Northam as lieutenant governor only votes when there is a tie in the state senate. The tie occurred when Thomas Norment, the Republican majority leader, voted with Democrats against the bill, causing a 20-20 split. Northam voted against the bill, breaking the tie. Mr. Norment then moved to hold another vote. Mr. Norment changed his vote and voted for the bill. Why did Mr. Norment vote with the Democrats and then call for another vote and subsequently change his vote the second time? Mr. Norment’s actions and motives were highly questionable.

    Why does Ed Gillespie say, “Ralph Northam was the ‘deciding vote’ in ‘favor of sanctuary cities that let dangerous illegal immigrants back on the streets?’” This is misleading given the circumstances surrounding the actual vote.

    I was not aware that Virginia had any sanctuary cities. Further investigation revealed that indeed Virginia does not have any sanctuary cities. So why was there a bill? Again, what were the motives behind the vote of this bill?

    This type of advertising is misleading which shows how low politicians will stoop. This type of advertising should not be allowed. Before television stations allow political ads, the information on the ads should be verified. Obviously, no fact checking was done on this ad. With all the technology and information available, all advertising should be checked for its credibility.

    Ed Gillespie should retract this ad as the ad misrepresent the facts of the actual vote and can be construed as “fake news.”

Joy Bauserman



    I do not hesitate to write this letter as election day is just around the corner. Candidate Dennis Morris says leadership comes from listening, diplomacy and respect. He will be quick to point out the number of precinct meetings he conducted while in office for 38 years. I suppose he includes trips to the grocery store, the gas station and the post office in his inflated total.

    I wonder how many of his constituents urged him to spend more, borrow more and tax more. I am betting fewer than would fit in the proverbial phone booth; however, he neglects to report that information.

    No, Mr. Morris does not listen to the people. He plays out his scripted hand of voting with the other board members. He could include in his definition of leadership that to get along he likes to go along. Does anyone really think this is political leadership?

    As for the assertion that the people he will represent are gullible, what an insensitive remark to make.

    Mr. Morris should know that it is not misinformation when the tax bills go up, but the taxpayers were left out in the cold when the decisions to over-spend were made. That tax bill, with his implied signature on it, represents the earnings of a hard-working people who want the county government to take less, not more of their wages.

    Please vote to re-elect supervisor Marsha Shruntz Nov. 7.

Robert Spiker

Toms Brook