An Open Letter to Mamie Taylor
We need to talk. Enough is enough.
In fact, I have had more than enough of the political grandstanding you, your colleague from the 9th-District, Tichi Pinkney-Eppes, and a few others in our community are engaging in at a time when all citizens and all school board members ought to be focused on doing their utmost to raise the academic achievement of all Richmond students. As author James Baldwin once wrote: “For these are all our children, we will all profit by or pay for what they become.”
Instead of focusing on that essential issue, you evidently prefer to travel to educational conferences about the country, stay at five-star hotels only to return to Richmond and argue with your colleagues about how best to communicate citizen concerns with RPS Superintendent, Dana T. Bedden.
Click HERE to see the documentation detailing how much you and your colleagues have spent on travel.
Bedden, who has not been on the job for a full year yet, understands what is needed. He has hired a staff of educators with excellent (and verified) credentials, all of whom appear to know what they are doing. Click HERE to see the roster.
You diminish yourself Mamie when you repeatedly demean him and your colleagues by telling the public not to trust RPS administrators.
If you want to fight about something, how about being outraged that our children have been receiving subpar educations for decades?
How about convincing your colleagues to declare a moratorium on out-of-the-state professional development and take the money that would have been spent flitting about the country and dedicate it to funding field trips for our children, buying sports equipment, music equipment and enhancements, art supplies?
You could even use the money to help fund out-of-zone busing for all our children.
Why is it that kids in the county schools have laptops and our children don't? How about investing in Chris and Rebecca Dovi's efforts to teach children how to code?
Check out John R. Butcher's blog "Cranky" and his website "Cranky Taxpayer" for some ideas on how to improve Richmond's truancy program.
But, please let Bedden do the job he was hired to do.
Mind you, I know a bit about arguing with colleagues and distrusting RPS administration. But, at the time I was rocking the boat on Richmond School Board, the boat was sitting dead in the water. I served on school boards [2002-2008] with entrenched RPS administrators and a majority of School Board members who were content to let "the experts" make all the decisions, despite frequent and overwhelming evidence that the so-called "experts" were more concerned with covering their own backsides than they were with making sure our kids got a decent education.
Similarly, your colleague from the Second District, Kim B. Gray, served on a school board [2008-2012] that repeatedly tried to ostracize and marginalize her when she questioned policies that served the best interests of adults instead of looking out for our children.
The current abject academic and financial state of our public schools provide ample evidence that although outnumbered, both Gray and I were right. It is cold comfort, indeed, to have been right when our school system continues to be dysfunctional on multiple levels.
Trust me, you have a great opportunity to be a part of making a positive difference in the lives of our children and our city. Unless, and until you and Eppes realize this, you both sound as if you are trapped in some alternate universe.
Seriously, you are serving on a board in which the majority of the members and Supt. Bedden understand the urgency of their mission and are determined to work together to bring accountability and equity -- at long last -- to our city schools and to the children who attend them.
I ask that you find a way to ratchet down the dramatics and work with your colleagues. Please do not make me and others regret that we supported your campaign to become the City of Richmond School Board member from the 5th-District.
Lastly, please refrain from lashing out at members of the media and blaming them for revealing your shortcomings or errors. WTVR's Lorenzo Hall, Zach Reid at The Richmond Times Dispatch and Tom Nash at Style Weekly all have excellent reputations and work hard to be honest and fair in their reportage.
Now, how about you let Bedden do his job, let the reporters do theirs and you find a way to work with your colleagues and do your job.