Despite the many misgivings I have concerning the Education COMPACT Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is promoting, I must err on the side of hope for our city's children in public schools. While we can respectfully disagree, one thing everyone can agree on is that our schoools, our city and our children deserve better. Much better.
Should my concerns about this vague document not come to pass and this COMPACT actually does something to improve our schools, I will be happy to be proven wrong. If NOT, then as the humorist Will Rogers noted above: "I would rather be the one who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the one who sold it."
Nonetheless, as a Quaker, a parent, a grandparent and a former School Board member, I am called to "Speak Truth to Power." That said, I hope that Stoney and members of his administration -- especially those who are putting on a full-court press to get the Education Compact signed -- heed not only this message but hear the diverse voices of others on behalf of the children of Richmond, their families and their teachers.
Simply put: Make a place at the table for the teachers, parents, grandparents and other family members of the children who attend Richmond Public Schools.
Listen, really listen to what we have to say.
Explicitly state that this COMPACT is not about bringing privatization and charter schools to Richmond.If collaboration and improved communication are the true goals of the COMPACT, then taking the time to listen to one another and collaborate on the front end of this laudable effort will give the compact the gravitas needed to avoid being tossed on the shelves in City Hall with the countless other studies and reports gathering dust.
Given that some people in the Stoney administration have represented to the media and other stakeholders that the concerns of the education advocates who held a press conference on City Hall steps recently, were the rantings of a minority of disgruntled citizens, I ask that Stoney disabuse one and all of this notion.
Just as millennials have been a catalyst for bringing cultural diversity to our city, they are also joining the ranks of those who have struggled for years to improve our schools.
Similarly, claims from Stoney's administrators that the meetings that have been held in all nine districts in the city were "well-attended" earn a KellyAnne Conway Award for "alternative facts." Attendance at the meetings ranged from five to 30 people, depending on whether the meeting was brought about in a regular district meeting or whether it was a meeting solely for the purpose of discussing the proposed COMPACT. Such numbers are not considered "well-attended" in any universe.
Should Stoney choose to ignore the diverse voices and coalitions willing to march to City Hall on behalf of our children and teachers, I predict that he will have something in common with the putative POTUS. Trump's lament -- "nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated" -- will become Stoney's with a small tweak: "Nobody knew fixing Richmond's schools could be so complicated."
See sidebar item on far-right side of this blog. Consider these requests from the Support Richmond Public Schools group posted by Keri Treadaway. Please note that I wholeheartedly endorse every suggestion made there.