RPS: The Budget ....

CLICK HERE to see the Richmond Public Schools proposed 2015-2016 budget.  Please take a peek and share any thoughts you may have to help our public schools drive more dollars into the classrooms and reward good teachers with resources needed to help ALL children become successful adults.

Journalism that Matters ...

PERSPECTIVES
The Best Poverty Journalism of the Past Year: My Picks | BillMoyers.com

A homeless man standing outside of McDonald's in Wall St.(Credit: Charina Nadura/Moyers & Company)
A homeless man standing outside of McDonald’s in Wall St.(Credit: Charina Nadura/Moyers & Company)
This year, TalkPoverty.org and BillMoyers.com will recognize strong media coverage of poverty on an ongoing basis. To get that effort started, here’s a look back at some of the best poverty journalism in 2014. These 20 stories and op-eds drew attention to critical but under-reported issues, rebutted persistent myths, shed light on barriers to economic security and mobility, lifted up policy solutions, provided insightful commentary on media coverage of poverty, or even served as a catalyst for change. (Stories are listed in no particular order.)

Driven Into Debt
by Michael Corkery and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, New York Times Dealbook
This five-part investigative series explores the rise in predatory subprime auto loans and how they can trap low-income individuals in cycles of debt. (Don’t miss the accompanying videos.)
Working Anything but 9 to 5
by Jodi Kantor, New York Times
This in-depth article follows Jannette Navarro — a Starbucks barista and mother struggling to make ends meet — highlighting the effects of an unpredictable job schedule, particularly on parents. Soon after this story ran, Starbucks announced it would reform its scheduling policy.
This important piece highlights how economic growth no longer translates into less poverty and busts two prevalent myths — that hard work is all it takes to escape poverty, and that public assistance provides “perverse incentives” against working.
I can’t get enough of Harold Pollack’s Wonkblog interviews. This one features an interview with Andrea Campbell, whose sister-in law was paralyzed in a car accident a few years ago, throwing the whole family into crisis. In particular, this piece does a great job of illustrating how harmful and counterproductive asset limits can be.
Poverty More Common Than Most Americans Realize
by Al Lubrano, Philadelphia Inquirer
A little known fact about poverty in America is that “the poor” are not some static group of people living in poverty year after year. This story busts that myth and highlights how four out of five Americans will experience at least a year of poverty or near poverty, or receive jobless benefits or public assistance at some point during their working years.
Fighting to Forget: Long After Arrests, Records Live On
by Gary Fields and Josh Emshwiller, Wall Street Journal
Gary Fields’s continued coverage throughout 2014 of how criminal records — including arrests that never led to conviction — serve as a barrier to employment, has been some of the best work done on this issue to date.
When Poverty Makes You Sick, a Lawyer Can Be the Cure
by Tina Rosenberg, New York Times Opinionator
This piece highlights how low-income individuals are more likely to experience poor health — often due to adverse environmental factors — and explores medical-legal partnerships, a promising model of legal services delivery that puts legal aid lawyers on site at hospitals and medical clinics to help low-income people get free legal help to prevent eviction, utility shut-off, access needed public aid, and more.
Food Insecurity in the US 
Now with Alex Wagner, MSNBC
Alex Wagner traveled to Owsley, Kentucky — one of the poorest counties in the US — to examine hunger in America and the role of SNAP in alleviating it. She then took viewers’ questions and used the opportunity to dispel myths and stereotypes about SNAP and the people who count on the program to make ends meet.
Does the Media Care About Labor Anymore?
by Timothy Noah, Politico
This story tracks the decline in media coverage of labor issues, and makes the point that with income inequality at record highs and wages for middle-class and low-income workers continuing to stagnate, the labor beat is “more important than ever.”
The inimitable John Oliver gives payday lending the treatment it deserves in a monologue that’s equal parts hilarious and horrific. (Stick around for a special guest appearance by Sarah Silverman at the end.)
Guilty and Charged
by Joe Shapiro, National Public Radio
This investigative series follows the rise of court fines and fees that can be in the hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars, and which hurt low-income people the most.
Keyes’ continued coverage of homelessness was unparalleled while he was at ThinkProgress. This piece explores the tribal history underpinning much of homelessness in Shawnee (the homeless population there skews heavily Native American), the city’s efforts to fight homelessness — and the wealthy Vice Mayor’s opposition to them.
Living Wages, Rarity for US Fast Food Workers, Served Up in Denmark
by Liz Alderman and Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
Amid fast food strikes in the US calling for $15-an-hour and a union, this article takes a look at pay and benefits for fast-food workers in Denmark — which as the reporters note, “their American counterparts could only dream of.”
For Louisiana Moms, Paul Ryan’s Poverty Plan Could Make a Bad Situation Worse 
By Neil DeMause and Della Hasselle, Al Jazeera America
This piece illustrates the impact of “welfare reform” legislation in 1996 which replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program — a very weak tool for alleviating hardship, which today helps just one in four poor children. The piece also examines how Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed policies would make things even worse.
In Florida Tomato Fields, a Penny Buys Progress
by Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
This piece highlights the Coalition of Immakolee Workers’ successful efforts to curb abusive work conditions and boost pay for 30,000 Florida farmworkers. The CIW has succeeded in getting an array of major restaurant chains and retailers — including Wal-Mart—to agree to buy only from growers who comply with the Fair Food Program.
This story examines how unaffordable child support orders can serve as a path to incarceration — and also a promising model in Virginia that helps noncustodial parents find employment so they can afford to make payments.
Previously at The Nation and Salon and now at Businessweek, Josh Eidelson has been a crusader, tirelessly following the stories that matter to low-wage workers. (He did so much good stuff in 2014, I couldn’t pick just one!)

Op-Eds
The Media’s Strange Approach to Low-Wage Workers
by Sarah Jaffe, Washington Post
Jaffe calls out her fellow journalists for treating “the people in some of the nation’s most common jobs as though they are some exotic Other rather than our neighbors, our family members, and ourselves.”
Your Waitress, Your Professor
by Brittany Bronson, New York Times
Bronson, a college professor, shares her first-hand experience of having to work “survival jobs” in order to make ends meet on her paltry university income. As she puts it, “my part-time work in the Vegas service industry has produced three times more income than my university teaching.”
Why Poor People Stay Poor
by Linda Tirado, Slate
Linda Tirado — whom many of us know by her Twitter handle @killermartinis—leaped to internet fame when her essay in the Huffington Post on what it’s like to be poor went viral. This piece, excerpted from her book Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America, highlights how “saving money costs money.”

Author’s note: To keep things fair, articles in which Center for American Progress was quoted were excluded from consideration for this list. The views expressed in this post are the author’s alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.

Testing ... testing ... Do students take too many tests?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Given the complaints about a high-stakes testing culture in classrooms, some states are reviewing the quality and quantity of the tests their students take. Congress is getting into the act, too.
On Wednesday (January 21, 2015), the U.S. Senate's education committee is set to take up the issue of whether federally mandated annual testing should remain a requirement under the No Child Left Behind law. Lawmakers are considering the reauthorization of the bipartisan education measure that President George W. Bush signed into law in 2002.
"Of course we should be asking the question: Are there too many tests?" says the committee chairman, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
Five things to know about testing in U.S. schools:
TESTING IS FEDERALLY MANDATED
The Bush-era law requires that states test students in grades three to eight in reading and math, and once again in these subjects in high school.
The tests are used to measure student progress. Schools that don't show improvement face consequences. President Barack Obama has allowed states to avoid some requirements by requesting waivers, but he has kept annual testing in place.
Bob Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing, said the federal requirement opened the door for more testing, with some districts conducting interim tests to make sure their students are on track for the federally mandated assessments.
NUMBER OF TESTS IS HARD TO KNOW
Many states and districts require additional testing beyond the federally mandated exams. A Center for American Progress snapshot of 14 districts in seven states found that students take as many as 20 standardized assessments annually and an average of 10 tests in grades three to eight. The group said these students spend on average 1.6 percent of instructional time or less taking tests.
Preliminary research by the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban districts, found that students take an average of 113 standardized tests between pre-K and 12th grade. It said testing time for 11th graders was as high as 27 days, or 15 percent of the school year, in one district and that didn't count Advanced Placement, career and technical education course and college entrance exams.
Other tests measure things such as English language proficiency, eligibility for gifted and talented programs, whether students have met high school graduation requirements or are ready for kindergarten.
It's not just the actual test-taking that's frustrating some parents and educators. It's also the hours students spend preparing - and worrying.
"In some grades, it's astonishing when you lay it all on top of each other," said Chancellor Kaya Henderson of the District of Columbia Public Schools.
Henderson has appointed a committee to review testing in her district, a move also taking place in several states.
John White, the Louisiana state superintendent, told reporters that business forces are at play, with the testing industry selling districts tests that aren't necessarily needed.
TESTING IS A POLITICAL ISSUE
Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the education committee's top Democrat, agree there's too much testing. But they also are among the backers of the annual federal testing requirement, saying an annual measurement is critical to ensure that low-income or minority students and those with disabilities aren't lost in the system.
"To put our heads in the sand and just hope, that's not fair to the kids. It's simply not fair," Duncan said.
Margaret Spellings, education secretary under Bush, said the annual testing mandate is the "holy grail" of education reform. This federal role in education is backed by civil rights and business groups."
"If the testing is sound and accurate and valid and reliable and aligned, all those wonky words, then teaching to the test is not necessarily a bad thing," Spellings said.
Alexander says he's open to listening to all sides. But Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., an education committee member, says districts should determine how students are tested. He wants to repeal the law and says many students have been "failed by the current system."
The National Education Association, a teachers union, backs a federal mandate that would require the testing just once in elementary, middle and high school.
COMMON CORE-BASED ASSESSMENTS 
ARE COMING
This spring, millions of students in about 30 states are expected to take new Common Core-based assessments that are replacing other state ones. The standards, the result of a states-led effort backed by governors, spell out what skills students should master in each grade and are designed to develop critical thinking skills.
The tests were developed by two different groups of states that pooled resources and expertise. A $360 million federal grant helped fund the work.
The tests are computer based and designed to the Common Core standards. Just as the standards have been controversial, so have the assessments - and some states have opted out of them.
Educators expect student test scores to drop and cause angst. But proponents say they are a better measure of what students actually know and are better aligned to what they learn in class.
About 5.2 million students participated in field tests of the new assessments, with few technology-related snags. But it's expected that some schools will not have the Internet capability to administer the tests by computer and will need to do so using old-fashioned paper and pencil, according to the Government Accountability Office.
TEACHER EVALUATIONS FIGURE IN THE DEBATE
The Obama administration views teacher evaluations with teeth as in important way to improve schools. It has given incentives to states to develop such evaluation systems, including making them a requirement to get a waiver to No Child Left Behind.
In 2009, 35 states and the District of Columbia did not require teacher evaluations to include measures of student learning, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality. But by last year, that dropped to nine states.
That's put added pressure on teachers - and at the same time classroom expectations are changing because of Common Core.
Last fall, Duncan said states can apply for extra time before they use student test scores to judge educators' performance.
Follow Kimberly Hefling on Twitter: http://twitter.com/khefling

Pondering the Deeper Meanings of This Holy Season

By Marian Wright Edelman

After all the shopping and preparation for celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, I hope we will stop and sit and think more deeply about their meaning in our over commercialized, trivialized, mass selling mania for and to children and deeply stressful time for so many. 

The poor baby in a manger is lost along with the poor babies crying out all over America for food, shelter, safety, and education in the jingle of cash registers, and the Christian belief that God entered history as a poor child is drowned out in the jungle of commerce and advertising. 

Something is deeply awry in our nation with the world’s biggest economy that lets its children be the poorest group and the younger they are the poorer they are during their years of greatest brain development. 

The Prince of Peace is mocked as we let a child be injured or killed by guns every thirty minutes. The growing boy Jesus who pondered and studied His heavenly Father’s word would worry about the millions of children around America and the world growing up without an education – unable to read and compute – sentenced to social and economic death in a competitive and globalizing economy, and in America, to a mass incarceration system that will turn back the clock of racial progress unless dismantled.

Who are we and who do we want to be as Americans? What do we value? What values do we want to stand for and transmit to our children in our warring polarized world where the violence of poverty and guns snuff out the lives and dim the eyes and spirits of children and adults? I share here a few prayers for us to ponder as we enjoy our turkey and roast beef and prepare for a new year that I hope is joyful and fulfilling for all including those left behind.

God, please stop injustice,
the killing of innocent children
by violence at home and in far away lands.

God, please stop injustice,
the killing of innocent children
by poverty at home and abroad.

God, please stop injustice,
the assault on precious child dreams
by neglect and apathy near and far.

God, please stop injustice,
so our children may live
and love and laugh and play again.


O God, forgive and transform our rich nation where small babies
die of cold quite legally.

O God, forgive and transform our rich nation where small children
suffer from hunger quite legally.

O God, forgive and transform our rich nation where toddlers and
school children die from guns sold quite legally.

O God, forgive and transform our rich nation that lets children
be the poorest group of citizens quite legally.

O God, forgive and transform our rich nation that lets the rich
continue to get more at the expense of the poor quite legally.

O God, forgive and transform our rich nation which thinks
security rests in missiles and in bombs rather than in mothers and in babies.

O God, forgive and transform our rich nation for not giving You
sufficient thanks by giving to others their daily bread.

O God, help us never to confuse what is quite legal
with what is just and right in Your sight.


God, is America’s dream big enough for me?
For the little Black boy born the wrong color in the wrong place
to the wrong parents in some folks’ sight?

God, is America’s justice fair enough for me?
For the little Brown or White girl labeled from birth as second best? 

God, is America’s economy open to us?
For the many children who have to stay poor on the bottom so too few can stay rich on top?

God, does America have enough for me in a land of plenty for some,
but of famine for others?

God, is America’s dream large enough for me?
I who am poor, average, disabled, girl, Black, Brown, Native American, White?

Is America for me? 


Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children's Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.  Mrs. Edelman's Child Watch Column also appears each week on The Huffington Post.

CodeVA Needs Our Help, Our Community Needs CodeVA



In this the season of giving, I write to ask you to consider donating to "CodeVA," a cause I am passionate about, a cause that will not only give back to our community, but one which will give equally to ALL our children and which allows us to invest in a brighter future for ALL our children. 

Your support -- no matter how small -- will help CodeVA, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting Computer Science – coding – literacy in our schools. The organization's goal is  to train teachers and students.  One of my grandsons, who just turned 8,  took a coding class this past summer and he and his mother each had unbounded praise and enthusiasm for what he learned.  He wants to do it again next summer.

I know many of you already give generously to causes promoting literacy in our public schools, or to causes that seek to improve educational outcomes for children in at-risk communities. But even as we’ve all worked diligently on this issue, Computer Science literacy remains a looming education crisis facing our schools, our children and the economic well-being of our communities.

Computer science literacy is not just the ability to be a digital consumer, but to be a digital creator with know-how to make that technology do new things.  

Why give now? 
  • Currently, less than one percent of Virginia’s children are taught this essential literacy in our schools.
  • Meanwhile, more than 70 percent of jobs in fields like science, banking, technology, engineering – even jobs in that arts and retail sectors – are computer science jobs.
  • These jobs are nearly unattainable without computer science literacy. Currently in Virginia, there are tens of thousands of jobs in all sectors of our economy left unfilled – or filled by foreign workers imported from other countries. 
  •  Other nations, like England, much of Europe, India and China, where computer science literacy is taught from kindergarten through graduation. 
I believe in CodeVa.  Founded just last year and a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization, CodeVA already is having a profound impact on statewide education policy, and is diligently working to upgrade and integrate computer science literacy among Virginia's classroom teachers.

Rebecca and Chris Dovi are the heart and soul of this organization. Both come from backgrounds where they’ve established their commitment to making education better for our kids. Rebecca served as a Computer Science teacher and national expert on Computer Science curriculum for nearly two decades before co-founding CodeVA. Chris is a multiple award-winning journalist who has won several first-place awards from the Virginia Press Association for his excellent education reportage.  


For more information and to donate to this important cause, please call 440-7135.

Bedden (Still) Has Some Serious Housecleaning to Do ...

By John R. Butcher


Carol Wolf’s recent post reminded me to revisit the VGLA scandal.  The Virginia Grade Level Alternative formerly was available to students with disabilities who were capable of performing at grade level but were unable to perform on a multiple-choice, written test.  
You might think that would be a small subset of the student population, even of the population with disabilities.  That thinking would ignore an opportunity to cheat on the SOLs: the VGLA was graded at the local school.  Following its inception in 2004, the VGLA saw an explosive growth.  Here are the data for Richmond:
image
That growth halted after 2010, when HB 304 required a specific annual justification for every student taking the VGLA.  The new math test in 2012 then eliminated the math VGLA.  The new reading test in 2013 eliminated the reading VGLA except for some limited English proficient students.
Elsewhere, I discuss the abundant evidence that Richmond was using the VGLA to artificially boost its SOL scores, i.e., to cheat.  To the point here, the number of Richmond students with disabilities plummeted from 5,348 in 2010 to 4,271 in 2011, a difference of 1,077.  As a percentage of the membership, the number dropped from 23.3 to 18.2 percent.
image
All those 1,077 students did not graduate: There were only 416 grade 12 students with disabilities in 2010.  There has been no news of a miracle in 2010.
The only explanation consistent with these numbers and with Richmond’s obvious cheating is that, the cheating being ended by the General Assembly, Richmond dispensed with 1,077 “disabilities” that were no longer useful for inflating the SOL Scores.
As Carol points out,  VCU now has rewarded the Superintendentwho presided over this atrocity with the title of Associate Professor in “Educational Leadership.”  Carol does not explain, for there can be no reasonable explanation, why VCU would thus shame itself

Dear Friends ... Help Our Kids and their Teachers Deliver a 21st-Century Education



CodeVA needs our help. In this the season of giving, I write to ask you to consider a cause I am passionate about, a cause that will not only give back to the community, but one which will give equally to ALL our children and allow us to invest in a brighter future for ALL our children. 

I ask that you to join me in giving the gift of knowledge. Your support -- no matter how small -- will help CodeVA, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting Computer Science – coding – literacy in our schools, to train teachers and students.  One of my grandsons, who just turned 8,  took a coding class this past summer and he and his mother each had high praise and enthusiasm for what he learned.  He wants to do it again next summer.

Many of you already give generously to causes promoting literacy in our public schools, or to causes that seek to improve educational outcomes for children in at-risk communities. But even as we’ve all worked diligently on this issue, Computer Science literacy remains a looming education literacy crisis facing our schools and our children.

Computer science literacy is not just the ability to be a digital consumer, but to be a digital creator with know-how to make that technology do new things. 

It is a literacy that desperately needs our attention to ensure prosperity for our children, our economy and for Virginia. 

Why give now? 
  • Currently, less than one percent of Virginia’s children are taught this essential literacy in our schools.
  • Meanwhile, more than 70 percent of jobs in fields like science, banking, technology, engineering – even jobs in that arts and retail sectors – are computer science jobs.
  • These jobs are nearly unattainable without computer science literacy. Currently in Virginia, there are tens of thousands of jobs in all sectors of our economy left unfilled – or filled by foreign workers imported from other countries. 
  •  Other nations, like England, much of Europe, India and China, where computer science literacy is taught from kindergarten through graduation. 
CodeVA is a new nonprofit that I firmly believe in. Founded just last year, but already registered as 501c3 nonprofit organization, CodeVA already is having a profound impact on statewide education policy, and on doing the hard work of putting teachers in our classrooms with the knowledge to teach computer science.

At the heart of this organization are my friends, Chris and Rebecca Dovi. Chris and Rebecca both come from backgrounds where they’ve established their commitment to making education better for our kids. Rebecca served as a Computer Science teacher and national expert on Computer Science curriculum for nearly two decades before co-founding CodeVA.

Last year, CodeVA partnered with Richmond Public Schools and other area school districts, committing to training 28 new high school computer science teachers. Remarkably, that number adds more than half again to the number of high school computer science teachers that existed statewide the previous year.

As of this school year, there are now computer science classes available at ALL of Richmond Public Schools’ comprehensive high schools. And by next year, Henrico County will boast the same. Also coming next year – with your support – CodeVA will train dozens more teachers to teach a new Advanced Placement computer science course.

And this is not just about high school literacy. Bellevue Elementary, an at-risk school in Richmond’s Church Hill, where the majority of students live at or below the poverty level, partnered with CodeVA last year in a single classroom. 

When Ms. Richardson, the 2nd classroom teacher who piloted the program compared her end-of-year scores with other teachers at the school, she discovered something remarkable: double-digit gains in math and science scores. Two students never before testing as anything more than average had moved up into the Gifted and Talented program. And most remarkable of all, Ms. Richardson says her students, on average, showed 20-percent gains in Language Arts.

Why? The answer is that Computer Science is about more than computers. Computer Science is computational thinking – it is logical thinking. It teaches processing and problem solving – and comprehension.

These amazing results and statistics are just some of the reasons why I support CodeVA.  I am not alone in this regard.  President Barack Obama, Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton all support computer science education.  


CodeVA is the only organization of its kind in Virginia, doing the hard work of making computer science more than an after-school or summer program accessible to only a few.

CodeVa believes anyone can code and every Virginia child should.  As the December 31st deadline for non-profit 501-C3 tax credits for charitable contributions draws nearer, please consider making a gift – the gift that will keep giving for years to come, and to all children of Central Virginia and across the Commonwealth – to CodeVA.

Sincerely yours,
Carol A.O. Wolf

Open Letter to Dr. Dana Bedden, Richmond Public School Superintendent


Dear Dr. Bedden,

As you approach the first anniversary of your hire as Richmond Public School (RPS) Superintendent, I must thank you for your hard work and that of your staff. 

By now, I am sure you have realized that you have not only "stepped up," but also "stepped into" what can be most kindly described as a "hot mess."  It is a sad fact of human nature that folks love to talk about the need for change and accountability, but once it starts happening, they get afraid and invariably some start screaming like weenies roasting over an open fire.  Sometimes these people even make up stories and sling mud in order to cover up their fears and insecurities.

You, and the top-notch staff you have assembled, deserve high praise.  Despite the many frustrations and distractions of the past year, you have remained focused and managed to bring some much-needed change to our city schools.  

With the help of a majority of the members of School Board, "Team Bedden," and former interim Superintendent Jonathan Lewis, you have cleaned house and brought increased professionalism, transparency and accountability to our school system.  You have listened to parents, teachers and community members and invited all to be a part of fixing our badly broken school system.  

Despite the progress, there remains much to be done. No realistic person can honestly expect that our schools will be made right in just one year.  But you, your staff and a majority of your board have truly made significant and substantive progress.  

For the first time in the 32 years I have lived in Richmond,  I hear my friends, neighbors and citizens throughout the city expressing real hope that with your leadership and our community support, our public schools can (at last) be made right.  

A few of the noteworthy accomplishments of your freshman year include:

   aligning and updating the curriculum plan with Virginia Department of Education guidelines when it was discovered that the prior superintendent and her staff inexplicably never bothered to update the academic plan;
   placing the RPS check registry online for all to see exactly where the money is going;
   tackling the facilities issue;
   adopting a zero-based budget;
   working with Richmond's growing Hispanic community not only to improve academic performance, but to address issues of bullying in our schools;
   working with people in the disabilities community to improve educational outcomes for ALL children;
   bringing a new hiring method for administrators that involves a panel process as opposed to simply hiring someone to placate someone's cousin, uncle, brother or sister (CUBS) request;
   insisting that the budget include money for musical instruments, band uniforms and arts equipment.

In conclusion, allow me to share with you a true story about a classic campaign dirty trick that happened during my first election campaign. I do so hoping that you, "Team Bedden" and a majority of the School Board members won't -- but just might have occasion to appreciate it. 
I can see now that it was a tried and true classic.  My opponent and a couple of his friends started making telephone calls to various African-American leaders who had endorsed my campaign.  They left messages on answering machines all around town that falsely accused me of being a racist, a redneck and someone who did not care for black children.  

One of my campaign supporters played the message back for me on a quiet Sunday morning in her kitchen and urged me to take out an advertisement refuting the baseless accusations.  Being new to the grime and grit of Richmond politics, I was unsure of what I needed to do.  Consequently, I sought the advice of Oliver W. Hill, my good friend, mentor and Civil Rights lawyer and legend who helped win the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case. 

Mr. Hill said that I should feel flattered that my opponent and his friends were spreading these wild accusations and slinging mud at me.  When I asked why I should feel "flattered" as opposed to angry and frustrated, he explained it was proof that my "opponent had realized he could not defeat me with the truth, therefore he was making up lies." 


So, I say to you what Mr. Hill said to me: "Keep your eyes on the prize and never, ever lower yourself to address their concerns."  I did exactly as he instructed.  And with his endorsements each time I ran, the support of voters in the 3rd-District and citizens throughout the city, I was elected three times and served from 2002 to 2008. 

Thank you once again for your hard work and best wishes to you and your family this holiday season.


Respectfully, 

Carol A.O. Wolf