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Thursday, December 8, 2022
FairfaxOpinionEditorial: Trying to spin mediocrity into excellence

Editorial: Trying to spin mediocrity into excellence

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Let’s say you’re a high-school senior and decide to apply to a high-quality institution of higher education. To pick one at random (or perhaps not), let’s say it’s the University of Mary Washington. Very high-quality, indeed.

And let’s say in your application you note that 40 percent of your grades in school have been A’s and B’s.

Impressive? Not really. And we’re not so sure the admissions office at Mary Washington would put said student at the top of the pile for those offered a spot in the following year’s incoming class.

So we were a little flummoxed when, in a new statewide survey of public opinion conducted for the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at, you guessed it, the University of Mary Washington, Virginia’s public schools receiving A’s and B’s for overall performance from a mere four in 10 Virginians was spun as something to celebrate.


“Asked to grade their local school districts on an A-to-F scale, 40 percent of Virginians surveyed gave them an above-average grade of A or B, and 26 percent gave them a C. Only 16 percent of Virginians gave their local school districts unsatisfactory letter grades (D or F), the university noted in releasing the results.

(Let’s see: 40 + 26 + 16 = 82, if our public-school math training still holds. We presume the remaining 18 percent represents undecided respondents.)

We’d call this something of a mediocre result – perhaps better than one might anticipate following the years of lockdowns and learning loss, but mediocre nonetheless, particularly given that there are a number of school districts, alas not so much here in Northern Virginia, that tried to make the best of a bad situation and have done reasonably well trying to deal with the mess wrought by COVID and resulting government-issued lockdowns.

The poll revealed distinctions based on political affiliation, but it wasn’t necessarily a wide chasm. For instance, 20 percent of Democrats rated their local school districts an “A”, with 10 percent of independents and 8 percent of Republicans feeling the same way. But even the top end, 20 percent A’s, is nothing to brag about; what private school would survive if 80 percent of parents didn’t think it delivered top-notch results?

We’re all paying the tab for public education, and as we’ve frequently noted here, despite the best efforts of some very dedicated personnel, it often simply isn’t delivering the return on investment. Intimating that mediocre poll results represent an overall satisfaction with Virginia’s public-education cartel suggests some people still have trouble with basic math concepts.

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