The spirited defense of the Richmond Public School Board and RPS administration displayed in his recent Richmond Times-Dispatch commentary article about the budget battles entangling Mayor Dwight Jones, the City of Richmond Public School Board and RPS Superintendent Yvonne Brandon, proves it.
As I have tried to teach my children -- some decisions in life are to be made with the heart and some with the head. Tyler's commentary is a perfect example of what happens when heart overrules head. Rather than simply accept the information provided to him by RPS School Board members and administrators as as bonafide "facts," the 1st District Councilman would be well-advised to heed the maxim my old city editor at The Denver Post had on his desk: "Even if your mother tells you she loves you, check it out."
While acknowledging that Richmond has a higher per pupil cost than the surrounding localities, Tyler blows right past that and neglects to note that the per pupil cost in Richmond is $13,040. And, lost somewhere between the complicated calculus of per pupil costs, the municipal per capita costs and massive finger-pointing at his colleagues and Mayor Dwight Jones, Tyler further fails to note some significant discrepancies in the numbers RPS includes in its proposed budget and the numbers posted on the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) website. For example, State Superintendent Patricia Wright says RPS received $278,147,427 for fiscal year 2010-2011 -- more than a quarter-billion dollars. Moreover, this number is significantly greater that the $241,670,614 that RPS cites in its current budget proposal as the allocation it received last fiscal year.
Curious also, is why the RPS budget proposal claims it receives only $654,500 in federal money and fails to mention that is receiving $18,986,926.28 in Title 1 money and roughly an additional $30 million non-Title 1 federal funds.
No one can argue with either the Mayor's or Tyler's premise that a "tier one city needs a tier one school system." But, one must take issue with Tyler's bold statement that "Richmond Public Schools and the School Board are working to improve our school system through the implementation of more than 515 audit recommendations by the city auditor and the results are beginning to show with increased graduation rates and decreased truancy and disciplinary infractions.
By the School Board and RPS administration's own documentation, they have complied with less than half of the recommendations that City Auditor Umesh Dalal put forward five years ago.
And, as far as increased graduation rates go, it all depends on what measurement is used. By clicking on the links at the end of this blog posting and studying the charts on the right-hand side of this page, you can see that even with RPS' crown jewels factored in -- Richmond Community High School, Open High School and the Richmond students who attend Maggie Walker and Appomattox Governor's Schools -- the district is only graduating 59 percent of the students who begin the ninth grade and graduate four years later with a regular or advanced diploma.
Franklin: No Data