More Columns From This Author

April 18, 2012

In this space last May, we mentioned 26 potential candidates for the Republican nominee, one of whom will in all likelihood face Barack Obama in the Presidential election this fall. Of those named, all 26 are still alive and perhaps interested in the nomination, which may not be determined before the party’s Tampa convention in August.

March 28, 2012

The ills of public schools are frequently mentioned in the press, on radio and television, on talk shows, public forums, and computer bits. Reporters love to mention drug-related events at a school, school shootings, falling SAT scores, graduation of poor students, failing teachers, poor teacher preparation, poor buildings built at astonishing costs, principals who fail to fire unsuccessful teachers...

February 15, 2012

After many years of involvement in public education, I am frequently asked about the shortcomings of schools, of the new problems facing teachers, and of the nation’s poor performance on tests. Almost everyone who ever went to school thinks he’s an expert on education.

January 4, 2012

Homelessness is a blight on a civilized nation, and the problem is acute in our nation’s capital. As the economy has floundered and the unemployment rate has soared, a growing number of homeless families from outside the District have migrated into the City in search of shelter.

December 7, 2011

I’ve always been fascinated with small towns and have lived and worked in a good many: Tarboro, Rocky Mount, Chapel Hill, Boone, and Raleigh as it was then, in North Carolina; Highland Springs, Short Pump, Charlottesville, Hopewell, and Chester, Virginia before it became suburbia.

November 9, 2011

Some 50 years ago I was an elementary school principal in western Henrico County. In those days, Short Pump was so rural that people made fun of it and considered it a suburb of Charlottesville. A Richmond reporter, who was one of my PTA vice-presidents called me on a Saturday afternoon and asked, “What ever happened to recess?

October 12, 2011

While playing bridge recently with an elementary school teacher, she said, “Some of my gifted children play chess.”

September 21, 2011

This summer the Virginia General Assembly did what it is required to do every 10 years: It redistricted the state’s House and Senate. Since Virginia has a population of about 8 million, each of the 100 Delegates should represent about 80,000 persons.

September 7, 2011

Judge Kermit V. Rooke, a longtime resident of Chester, was often seen at the old Post Office wearing a black suit, a yellowing straw hat, and carrying a cane. In retirement, Judge Rooke kept an office on the second story of the Insurance Building where he chewed a cigar, talked on the telephone, and wrote wills for the elderly, gratis.

August 10, 2011

Bessines, France is a village of 1,600 persons located 60 miles west of Paris. Beginning in 1948 until operations ended in 1995, it was a great mining center for uranium, and it enabled France to lead the world in the production of electricity from nuclear energy.

July 6, 2011

Like old friends, old books are best. We don’t want to read anything too deep in hot weather. I reread favorites.

June 1, 2011

Many years ago and a hundred miles from Chester, I served in the central office of a school division in a university community. We were swamped with applications, and I spent each day interviewing (mostly) young ladies for teaching positions. I asked lots of questions to applicants; questions which would now put me in deep trouble if not in jail.

May 4, 2011

The 2012 Presidential race is well under way and the field of possible candidates is growing. President Obama has announced his candidacy and has a war chest in hand.

April 6, 2011

Of all the world’s precious metals, only gold combines lustrous beauty, easy workability, rarity and virtual indestructibility. Not even diamonds combine these four characteristics. Gold is so soft and malleable that an ounce can be stretched into a wire 50 miles long or hammered into a sheet so thin that it would cover 100 square feet.

March 9, 2011

The General Assembly began its short session of 46 days and adjourned only one day late with many accomplishments. After handling nearly 2700 bills and resolutions and appointing conferees from the House and Senate, budget changes were agreed upon.

February 9, 2011

Gov. Bob McDonnell fulfilled a campaign promise in early January when he signed Executive Order 31 creating the Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting. The commission ensures bipartisan involvement in the redistricting process for state legislative and congressional boundaries.

January 12, 2011

On the second Wednesday in January, the Virginia General Assembly will convene for 30 days, as it does in odd-numbered years.

December 15, 2010

Members of the Virginia General Assembly began introducing bills, or placing them “in the hopper,” on July 19, 2010, for consideration next year. The legislature convenes on Jan. 12, with two new members to be elected Jan. 11. Many of the pre-filed bills are merely bills that were not acted upon and were carried over from the previous session.

November 24, 2010

November means that Halloween is over, elections have concluded early in the month and we can look forward to perhaps the best holiday of the year – Thanksgiving. To most of us, Thanksgiving is an important, soul-satisfying, family-oriented holiday, and we can eat without remorse and store calories for the hard winter ahead.

October 6, 2010

If it’s November, we’ll have an election in Virginia. This year, we shall elect 11 representatives to the U.S. House. In November 2011, we shall elect the 40 members of the Virginia Senate and the 100 members of the Virginia House of Delegates.

September 15, 2010

It has become a tradition in Virginia for the elected attorney general to resign before the completion of his four-year term to run for higher office, usually that of governor. In 1947, Abram P. Staples resigned to accept appointment as judge of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

August 18, 2010

The three of us are octogenarians now. Ben suggested a trip to Bald Head Island, N.C., and Ed and I agreed, since Ben’s son-in-law owns a cottage there and the price was right. We could go for a few nights or a week.

July 7, 2010

Oil is that slimy liquid that is sometimes called black gold, and it greases the skids of civilization. Whether we’re buying or selling it, comparing prices, consuming or trying to clean up spills, we’re all in the oil business. It’s the slippery stuff that provides the most accessible, inexpensive, moveable, safe and plentiful energy-efficient product in the world and the oil that we use now comes out of the ground, maybe six miles below the surface. We used to get it from pine trees, whales and other animals.

June 9, 2010

President George Washington selected 10 square miles of Maryland and Virginia for the District of Columbia. He picked an excellent location, midway between the 13 original states and central in terms of population. It was also near his family’s estate at Mt. Vernon.

May 26, 2010

Everyone has problems in Casablanca, and in Chester. My big one is insomnia, something that hit suddenly in June 1965. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since, although I’ve been treated at the University of Virginia Hospital, the Medical College of Virginia Sleep Clinic, the Veterans Hospital, by an acupuncturist and by every doctor I’ve known or consulted.

April 14, 2010

“You don’t quit playing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop playing,” read the sign at the YMCA in the small town where I grew up.