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City schools plan changes to open enrollment system

School Board Representative Carol Wolf has written a letter to Richmond residents about proposed changes to the current open enrollment policies in Richmond Public Schools:

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

The Richmond Public School Board is considering changes to the current open enrollment policies. I would appreciate it if you would review this proposed draft document and share your suggestions and concerns.

This draft procedure is being sent to principals for their feedback and I ask that parents and teachers weigh in as well. This is an effort on the part of the Legal, Legislative, Policy and Communications Committee to clarify and adjust open enrollment since out-of-zone transportation was virtually eliminated in the 2007/2008 budget.

Any new open enrollment procedure would not take effect until the 2009/2010 school year, but because the application process would begin this year, the school board hopes to adopt a procedure this fall.

Please let me know your thoughts, either on this blog or by e-mailing me directly at Wolfies@aol.com. Please send your comments by Friday, August 15 so that we may include them in the August committee meeting.

You are, of course, welcome to attend the August LLPC meeting to assist with revising this draft. It will be held in the 17th floor committee room on 8/21 at 11:30 a.m.

DRAFT-DRAFT-DRAFT PROPOSAL-DRAFT

Proposed Procedure for Open Enrollment
2009-2010 School Year
DRAFT–FOR PARENT & TEACHER COMMENT

  • “RPS has a goal of making all schools exemplary. Each school has a focus on the success of all students, supported by a comprehensive system of needs analysis based on the school’s vision, goals, and data that drive priorities, objectives, and programs offered.
  • “While children are encouraged to attend neighborhood schools, school choice remains an option. Students may apply to attend other schools with acceptance prioritized according to the following:
  • “Priority 1 – Request for transfer from a low-performing school to a higher performing school
    Under NCLB, children attending a low-performing school may submit a request for placement in a higher performing school.
  • “Priority 2 – Request for special permission to attend an Out of Zone school
  • “Elementary: Parents may apply to any school with acceptance based on space availability through a lottery. Transportation is not provided. Any approved form is contingent on the parents providing transportation to and from school, the student’s regular and prompt attendance, and observation of school rules and regulations.
  • “Special permission may be revoked if these contingencies are not adhered to. Special permission is granted for one year at a time.
  • “In cases of unexpectedly larger school and/or class enrollment, principals may withdraw out-of-zone permission prior to the opening of school. Parents will receive written notice five days prior to withdrawal.
  • “Secondary – Parents may apply to any school with acceptance based on space availability through a lottery. Transportation is not provided. Any approved form is contingent on the parents providing transportation to and from school, the student’s regular and prompt attendance, and observation of school rules and regulations.
  • “Special permission may be revoked if these contingencies are not adhered to. Special permission is granted for one year at a time.
  • “Request to attend a specialty secondary school/program. Rising 6th graders may apply to the Middle School IB program. Acceptance at this program is based on the students’ academic, behavioral, and extracurricu8lar performance. Rising 9th graders may apply to any or all of the High School Specialty Programs. Acceptance at these programs is based on the student’s academic, behavioral, and extracurricular performance.
  • “While preference is given to rising 9th graders, consideration may be given to rising 10th graders who excel academically and have accrued sufficient credits to qualify as 10th graders in the specialty program.”
  • 127 comments

    1. #1 • gray •

      Priority 1 & 2 talk about NCLB and out-of-zone enrollments, does this mean that RPS are erasing the mega-zone lines? If so, I think that is fair and will help all neighborhoods city wide.

      I don’t think this is fair – “In cases of unexpectedly larger school and/or class enrollment, principals may withdraw out-of-zone permission prior to the opening of school. Parents will receive written notice five days prior to withdrawal” – it would not give parents time to find another school or move to another neighborhood. This policy would cause folk to think twice before moving into certain areas if getting into a good school becomes near impossible…too risky.

      Again here I find something unfair -”Acceptance at this program (IB) is based on the students’ academic, behavioral, and extracurricular performance” – some of the poor elementary RPS do not offer extracurricular activities. I wonder if kids graduating from wealthier schools with the certified teachers, technology, Accelerated Reader, arts and drama have a leg up on the kids attending poor schools with only the bare bones SOL based curriculum from Downtown.

      A little off the subject here, what elementary schools did the students in the IB program at Lucille Brown attend? What are the stats?

    2. #2 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Great questions, Gray. I will get answers for you. Parents whose children have been recently denied out-of-zone placements should pay careful attention to these proposed changes. Principals have contacted me who are very concerned that this PROPOSED POLICY injects greater instability into both school and family lives at times when we all need far more stability.

    3. #3 • edg •

      More questions:

      Is transportation provided to Lucille Brown? If not, is this school eligible for NCLB students?
      Does NCLB apply to the Patrick Henry charter school?

    4. #4 • gray •

      Lucille Brown, if I’m not mistaken, is not fully accredited so the NCLB policy would not be used to enter that school but instead to leave. The IB program is housed in Lucille Brown and does not have a zone or district. Students city wide apply like they would to the Governors, Open High, etc. I believe the IB curriculum should be larger and their methods and hands-on projects should be used in the ordinary classrooms. IB was orginally not intended for just those who could test into it.

      I do not think the NCLB will apply to the charter because, like the IB program, it will not have a zone or district -all students in Richmond can apply and it is open to those working at all levels, unlike the IB.

    5. #5 • edg •

      Thank you. I am inferring from your response that neither schools provide transportation.

    6. #6 • gray •

      I would assume transportation to Lucille Brown is the same as all other RPS.

      I believe the charter will not offer transportation at all.

    7. #7 • chuck •

      The requirements of NCLB apply to all public schools, charters included since they are public schools in Virginia. The consequences of not meeting the state-developed goals are different for Title I schools but all public schools are expected to meet the goals or the schools and the school division may be penalized. Transportation does not factor into those goals nor does attendance zones.

    8. #8 • gray •

      If NCLB applies to the charters and the Governors school does that mean they must give slots to kids coming from low performing schools first?

    9. #9 • edg •

      AND it means that RPS MUST provide transportation to the out of zone kids who have been accepted through NCLB.

    10. #10 • chuck •

      The local school division makes the determination regarding which schools can accept students from low performing schools that must offer choice and which students are eligible to take advantage of the choice option. This is one of those instances where the sanction only applies to Title I school. The Governor’s school is a totally separate animal. It is not a city school but rather it is governed by its own board with representation from all of the participating localities. If the local school division designates a charter school as a Title I school, choice may be an option.

    11. #11 • edg •

      Is Patrick Henry a Title 1 school? Carol, do you know?

    12. #12 • Susan •

      One benefit that I see for keeping the megazones is that, since transportation is not provided, keeping the megazones affords more opportunity for carpooling or ridesharing. Erasing megazones could prove more costly overall because of the reality of transporting from all over the city.

    13. #13 • Kim Bridges •

      Great input from all and thanks for getting the dialogue going Carol. I’ve heard from some 1st District folks about this discussion, so I’d like to add a couple of additional pieces of information: 1) Yes, this is an attempt to get rid of megazones–since transportation is no longer available for those students the megazone stipulation is unneccessary (but good point about the carpooling and energy savings.) 2) The 5 day notification is what’s currently on the special permission and out of zone applications, although my impression is that receiving such notice is not common b/c principals plan so that they can accommodate last minute neighborhood registrants without losing the out of zone students they’ve already admitted. But we need more than my impressions about how this all works at the school leve, so that’s the type of feedback we’re hoping to get from principals as we’re finalizing things. 3) I mistakenly sent out an incorrect meeting date–the committee meeting is scheduled for the 4th Thursday, 8/28 at 11:30. Sorry for the mixup on my end.

    14. #14 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      I received some answers this afternoon from lawyers concerning NCLB sanctions and will post responses after I clarify a couple of points. I have also received e-mail inquiries at Wolfies@aol.com concerning why it is that we are transporting elementary school students whose neighborhood schools ARE NOW ACCREDITED out of their neighborhoods to other ACCREDITED elementary schools. Please keep these questions coming and I should be able to provide answers over the next couple of days. Thanks to one and all!

    15. #15 • teacher •

      This has the stench of elitism and segregation. Running away from a school doesn’t improve a failing school. Increasing enrollment at the ‘better’ schools makes them ‘worse’. Richmond needs to improve its schools all around. Accredited doesn’t mean the school is great, it means a percentage of the students have made minimum standards. Why not go to a school, walk around, and document who is not doing his job? RPS already has limited funds, what good will it do to pay to transport students out of zone? Removing kids from a school reduces that school’s budget and increases the lack of funds available to the principal to improve programs. It’s easy to complain about RPS when you don’t attend or have students their, but the fact is the majority of attendees are living some pretty horrific lives and the elite few who can afford to not attend have failed to realize they are harming the schools more than helping.

    16. #16 • teacher •

      Before you start complaining about my grammar, I want you to know I realize I made a mistake. So there!

    17. #17 • gray •

      Teacher, my kids have attended poor RPS and I agree that “Richmond needs to improve its schools all around.” I’ve been doing my part as a parent but there are many in the RPS system not doing their part. You say, “Why not go to a school, walk around, and document who is not doing his job?” If you do that in a poor school with a gang mentality type administration, your child will be targeted. I’ve seen it happen many times. Also there is so much to report everything from threatening to yelling at the children, poorly written multiple choice tests, out of control classrooms with untrained unsupported teachers, teachers leaving in mass droves, prayers and religion in school as if it is legal….you have to choose your battles wisely.

      Some schools do not welcome parent input. Look how all the museum district parents were chased out of their zoned school. There were three years of complaints to downtown administration and nothing was done.

      So yes we should try out our neighborhood schools but downtown needs to empower and support the parents not chase them away when inept leadership is exposed.

      To improve schools we need to work from the bottom up and top down.

    18. #18 • edg •

      Some parents in zones with poor performing or outright dangerous schools will send their kids to out of zone schools no matter what – even it means using GRTC. Which is exactly what happened when they eliminated out of zone transportation – kids alone on public school busses.

      Not only is that situation dangerous, it also led to an increase in truant students.

      Nice suggestion about the car pool, but I think you are missing the point. MOST city parents (as least where I live) DO NOT have transportation, or if they do, they cannot drive their children to school due to work hours.

      Have you ever been without a car? Do you really know what it is like to rely on GRTC to get you to work, much less to day care and to your kid’s school? Broadly eliminating school bus routes truly harm our children and doesn’t produce very great savings anyway.

      I would rather get rid of Wilder’s body guards to save money before I have to trust my children on GRTC. But, if I have to, my children will have to ride the public bus alone because I will not let my middle-schooler attend our zoned school as it is way too dangerous.

    19. #19 • edg •

      Just one more observation: The lack of transportation is the greatest contributor to the de-facto segregation of RPS. There are better ways to save money than to relegate poor children to poor-performing schools.

    20. #20 • Susan •

      Gray, you bring up some great points. However, I think you missed my point about carpools/ rideshares in my post above (12) – because that is exactly the type of things that could help poorer parents. The children could get a ride to school with another responsible parent, not on a city bus by themselves.

    21. #21 • edg •

      Susan,
      I really do not think car pooling is going to help. Most of us parents have to be at work and cannot participate in a car pool. Besides, I pay taxes and I want my school busses.

    22. #22 • teacher •

      Yes, choose your battles… How about don’t battle… organize and vote. I know it isn’t easy but our schools aren’t going to improve if we don’t keep working to improve them. You want better quality teachers? Increase salary. Our good teachers go to the counties because they are tired of being treated poorly and the money is about the same. Don’t give me that no one gets into education for the money line, because teachers are more valuable than any other profession. You want better schools? Vote for people who aren’t afraid to make tax money go into schools. Even if it means more taxes. You don’t like waste or mean principals? Chase those suckers out of town. 200 community members making a ruckus can certainly make a principal disappear and get about 4000 voters to oppose a school board member and they will quickly be ousted. The problem is that most people want to whine when things are bad rather than go to work. As for other parents not doing what they should, keep in mind many of our students live with grand-parents, in group homes, or are homeless. Yes, it’s true. Don’t give up the fight Gray. Keep organizing.

    23. #23 • gray •

      teacher, I know for a fact that the teachers at Cary left because of the principal there -that is exactly what they told me.

      At another school in the east end, two teachers told me they felt untrained to work in a city school and unsupported and that is why they had chosen to leave. Some of the teachers I’ve spoken with in private schools, offering significantly less pay, said they left public schools because they no longer wanted to teach to the multiple choice tests.

      It certainly wouldn’t hurt to pay higher salaries -might attract the more experienced teachers. We should also look at the city schools where teachers are happy and ask why? Not all RPS loses teachers in droves.

    24. #24 • gray •

      Carol Wolf and Kimberly Bridges,

      I think it is truely democracy at work when I see our elected officials on our community blogs answering questions and posting information. Thank you. Please check out the good discussion regarding school enrollment over at CHPN here http://chpn.net/news/2008/07/30/west-joins-school-choice-organization/ . I believe West’s idea of vouchers will only encourage more families to opt out of public schools.

    25. #25 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Gray,

      True Democracy is not a “spectator” sport. No matter what fine names we give to our institutions, or who we elect to represent us, “we, the people” need to listen to one another.

      Good people — you, Don Harrison, Jon Baliles, John Murden, John Sarvay, Ross Catrow, Chris Dovi over at Style Weekly, Terry Rea — have all helped me understand the immediacy and the importance of the internet in helping our communities come together.

      So, I must thank you and all the “bloggers” who cares enough to take the time to discuss what really matters. Thank you.

    26. #26 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      TYPOE: aargghh

      So, I must thank you and all the “bloggers” who care enough to take the time to discuss what really matters.

      Thank you.

    27. #27 • Just144ice •

      Teach # 22: If memory serves me from past campaign work, many of Richmond’s voting districts hinge on only hundreds of votes, maybe 400 instead of 4000 when it comes to a school board race. This is how feeble political machines of barely competent neighborhood “leaders” allign with particular candidates and keep them in office. My point is that the balance of local power can be off-set with targeted community organizing. This school board behaves like an entrenched group more concerned with keeping their seats than improving the schools.

    28. #28 • mom •

      I have a question regarding the draft and secondary schools – currently my son attends an out of zone secondary school. We did not participate in a lottery when he was admitted last year. Would this mean, if the draft was adopted, that he could loose his spot as an 8th grader if his name was not chosen (or, like Hanover County out of district students, once you are in middle or high you are in for the duration)?

      Thanks.

    29. #29 • Jonathan Mallard •

      I’ve posted my thoughts on this issue on my website. You can see them here: http://jonathanmallard.com/open-enrollment-policy-discussion/

    30. #30 • Bert Berlin •

      I hope you don’t mind if a blogger from south of the river joins in.

      I think that this discussion shows that the draft “Proposed Procedure for Open Enrollment” is a bit confusing. The main problem is that it deals with more things than open enrollment.

      Priority 1 has nothing to do with open enrollment. It is an entitlement growing out of the No Child Left Behind law. Under NCLB, when a Title I school does not meet its Annual Yearly Progress requirement, parents must be notified and they have the right to move their child to another public school within the district. In the City of Richmond the schools from which parents are entitled to move their children under the NCLB Public School Choice provision are Chandler, Elkhardt, Brown and Boushall middle and Reid and King elementary schools. (Chandler, Reid, King and Boushall met their AYPs for 2007 and may be on their way out of the Public School Choice requirement.)

      The last part of Priority 2, dealing with specialty secondary school programs, also has nothing to do with open enrollment. These are programs in which children compete for admission and qualify on the basis of merit.

      As for true “Open Enrollment,” we are dealing with situations in which parents choose not to use their neighborhood school and instead apply for their child to be admitted to some other public school in the city. Under the draft children may be admitted to a school other than their neighborhood school when space is available, subject to a lottery when there are more applicants than available spaces. Under the draft, parents must transport their child to the open enrollment school and admission is for one year only.

      I have a few questions about open enrollment:

      1- Why do we have it? RPS’s attendance zones are based on the assumption that children will attend their neighborhood school. Yet, some children are permitted to attend schools outside their attendance zone. Is it intended to fill schools that would otherwise be under-attended? Is it intended to provide school-choice for some of the parents in the city? Is it consistent with RPS’s stated goal of “making all schools exemplary?”

      2- What is the origin of open enrollment? It is not something that is common in other school districts. In most districts children attend their neighborhood school unless there is some legitimate reason to enroll them elsewhere (location of parent’s job, location of child care, etc.)

      3- How were the open enrollment schools chosen? Ignoring megazones, the open enrollment elementary schools are Fisher, Southampton, Cary, Fox, Munford, Bellevue, Ginter Park, Whitcomb and Woodville. Is it intended that these will remain the open enrollment schools under the new draft, or will all schools be open enrollment?

      Other observations:

      a- If we’re going to talk about racially segregated schools in Richmond, we need to look at the entire system. According to the RPS website, for school year 2006-07 (the most recent year posted) only about 7% of the entire student population attending Richmond Public Schools is “white.” This means that, no matter how those white students are distributed throughout our schools, RPS is a segregated school system.

      Putting that in context, if about 35 to 40 percent of the city’s population is white I would expect that about 35 to 40 percent of our school population would be white. But our school population is only 7 percent white. This means either that white people in Richmond are particularly infertile or that they are not sending their kids to RPS. I suspect it is the latter. If we are going to integrate Richmond’s public schools, we must find a way of convincing white parents that their children will receive a quality education in those schools.

      b- As to relegating “poor children to poorly performing schools,” the issue is more complicated. First, how do we determine that a school is performing poorly? Not by SOL scores. Schools don’t take SOL tests; only children take them. So, if children in a particular school do not do well on SOL tests, does that mean that the school is performing poorly? Many poorer students start kindergarten unequipped to learn. They have not had the benefit of one or two years of preschool. They start school behind and it takes them many years to catch up.

      This does not mean that RPS can use the poverty of its students as an excuse. What it does mean is that if we are serious about giving our children in Richmond a quality education we need to start educating them at a younger age. We have to make sure that they start kindergarten as well prepared to read and do math as are middle-class children. Will this be expensive? Yes. Can we afford it? The real question is can our children afford our not doing it?

      c- Are we in Richmond serious about the goal of making all schools exemplary, or is it just another slogan that we frame and hang on the office wall of all of our schools? To me it is unthinkable that we need an open enrollment policy that allows some children to escape their neighborhood schools. We cannot continue to accept it that students attending two different elementary schools receive vastly different educations. So, let’s stop worrying about open enrollment and get on with the task of making sure that all our schools are good as we can make them.

    31. #31 • Guilty Mom •

      Regarding Gray’s post #23: My daughter’s teacher from last year took a pay decrease to leave the public schools and go to a private school because she actually wanted to spend her days teaching, not disciplining.
      I am one of the problems, taking my kids out of the public system and putting them into private, honestly because the public schools seem to be beyond help. I’ve heard too many horror stories regarding th system and I can’t risk my children’s future

    32. #32 • gray •

      Guilty Mom,
      Has long as we have the NCLB and the current policy of bringing the bottom up to pass the multiple choice SOLs, the urban public school system will remain beyond help. Bushes policicies are a deliberate attempt to kill public education.

    33. #33 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Dear Friends,

      I am on vacation right now and have limited access to e-mail. Dr. Brandon and the school board attorneys are preparing full answers to the questions that require a legal and authoritative response. I am assured that all concerns will be addressed in preparation for the LLPC Committee meeting on this topic scheduled for 8/28/08 @ 11:30 pm on the 17th Floor of City Hall.

      I received some answers to our questions earlier, which upon analysis, simply engendered more questions. Once those questions are answered, I will happily post everything I know (and don’t know).

      Meanwhile, anyone who wants to know the history of “open enrollment” in Richmond’s public schools should consult an excellent book titled “The Color of Their Skin: A History of Richmond Public Schools from 1954 to 1989,” by Robert Pratt.

      Please continue to post questions, concerns and suggestions about how RPS can better meet the needs of our children and community. Many thanks to John Sarvay for allowing this forum and to everyone for weighing in. ~ Carol

    34. #34 • teacher •

      Interesting points have been made. Mr. Berlin is right about the Title 1 piece and it is interesting to note that more schools in Richmond would be Title 1 if the students would simply apply for free/reduced lunch. However, this of course would mean that more schools would be subject to losing Federal funds due to failure to make AYP, in addition to other sanctions, see Petersburg for an example.

      As to the race issue. . . first of all, our schools aren’t that dangerous. Secondly, the city of Richmond is failing to educate its adults as well as its youth and thus what role models have our impoverished students?

      What our paranoid white parents fail to realize is that by keeping their kids out of our schools they increase racism, fail to provide an opportunity to share cultures, and take their dollars out of our schools, so they become even worse. You know school funding is per pupil based right?

      Why is per pupil cost so high? Have you seen the number of special ed. students in our schools? Wonder why they are special ed.? I doubt it is because they are eating lead based paint.

      Yes, it is true, the good ol’ boys are alive and well. They waste our money and call in their cronies rather than employing highly qualified individuals. Yes, they have their small groups that make 3-4000 votes in a district enough to get them elected.

      Would Coca-Cola be the corporation it is today if the people running it were elected by the general populace? Would an appointed school board avoid cronyism? I doubt it.

      There is no quick fix, but sure as I am a teacher, white kids, latino kids, and all the others need to be in our schools.

    35. #35 • jonah •

      Bert Berlin, Thank you for your thoughtful and knowledgeable response.
      I agree completely, prek is the answer to alot of these issues. But this thing people don’t realize is that unless the program is Headstart, there is no transportation. The VPI program is underutilized in RPS by the kids who need it most for only one reason — the schools don’t provide prek buses.
      Also, our prek teachers neeed extra training and support. And teachers salaries need to increase to keep more good teachers at RPS.

    36. #36 • Guilty Mom •

      Teacher- I agree completely! I am a paranoid white mom. (And I am Gulity Mom, not proud about it)However, it’s not a question of race with me and RPS. The grand total of white children at my daughter’s private school to 3; 2 of which are mine, so this is not about race. And trust me, as the money for that school comes out of my account every month, it hurts!
      My issue with RPS is their inabilty to put the needs of students first. I do not lay all the blame at their feet. NCLB has been a ridulous farce. The second farce has been the peeing contest that goes on between RPS and City government.
      I know that there are excellent teachers and adminstrators doing excellent things in our schools, and I applaud their devotion and commitment. There just aren’t enough them out there, and again, I’m not willing to risk my children’s future

    37. #37 • GetRealRichmond •

      I must take issue with Bert Berlin’s effort to continue to BLAME the high per pupil costs of RPS on the “Special Ed” population.

      Of course, Berlin and RPS administrators want to blame these costs on those least able to defend themselves. Perhaps, someone can explain why it is that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of “special ed” students who DO NOT TAKE SOL tests, but whose successful completion of alternative SOLs count towards the highly touted MIRACLES claimed by Deborah Jewell-Sherman. Would that someone would also connect the dots that reveal a drop-out rate worse than a graduation rate that ought to inspire everyone on that alleged school board to resign.

    38. #38 • teacher •

      In defense of Mr. Berlin, he didn’t blame special ed. for rising cost of education. I said that part of the reason the per pupil cost in Richmond is so high is because of the large number of special ed. students in RPS. This isn’t blaming, this is stating the facts. Additionally, RPS has very old decaying facilities which cost more than modern facilities to maintain.

      As to students not taking the SOLs, that is not true. All students are taking them. Perhaps with the exception of severely mentally impaired. Though in the past you may have been right, I have witnessed the change first hand.

      Guilty Mom, imagine what you and the other parents are spending on private school could do to improve the quality of a public school… Do you get a tax rebate from the city for your expenditures on private school or do you end up paying for a public education you aren’t utilizing? It reminds me of the babysitting problem. Both parents get jobs to pay the bills but then have to spend half the salary of one worker on babysitting. Seems to me a househusband/wife would be the better choice.

    39. #39 • GetRealRichmond •

      Teacher,

      You might be married to Berlin your defense is so swift and equally wrong. Ever heard of VGLAs? Or VAAPs? Our special ed teachers sure have.

      Spare us the moralizing about babysitting problems, puh-leeze, with the undercurrent of telling someone how to arrange the duties in their marriage.

    40. #40 • GetRealRichmond •

      Further, spare us the platitudes about the aging facilities. If only RPS “maintained” its aging facilities! The fact that the schools are not in compliance with ADA ought to give evidence to that lie.

      These thoughts on the “aging facilities” require that I amend my earlier comment about the lousy school board members.

      Wolf is the only one who doesn’t just settle for the lies and excuses. One brain, however, doesn’t absolve the rest. Thank you, Mrs. Wolf.

    41. #41 • teacher •

      Firstly, GetRealRichmond, being nasty is not very useful. Secondly, one school board member doesn’t have all the answers. Third:

      From the VGLA manual,
      This assessment is only available to eligible students with disabilities and eligible students with limited English
      proficiency (LEP). LEP students in grades 3-8 who are at level 1 or level 2 of English language proficiency (ELP) may
      participate in the VGLA for the reading test.

      By the tremendous numbers of Limited English Proficiency students enrolled in RPS I am sure there is sooo much impact.

      Not to mention that even LEP students can’t graduate without taking the SOLs in English.

      Fourth, from the VAAP manual:

      The student must have a current IEP or one is being developed; demonstrates significant cognitive disabilities.

      Do you think the teachers are running around trying to document every student so they can obtain an Individualized Education Plan?

      Many, if not most, students with IEPs still take the SOLs without accommodations.

      Some schools have designs that make ADA compliance nearly impossible.

      Yes, repairing old buildings costs more than making modern ones and furthermore problems such as asbestos abatement, mold, poor HVAC systems, and other such joys of old buildings costs more to fix than is worthwhile. Not to mention that the building are hideous and poorly designed to function as schools. I imagine you’re still driving an Edsel.

      Frankly, your sexist comment that implies I am a woman (Berlin’s wife) is really unbecoming of someone who is trying to make an intelligent argument.

      Maybe your one brain should have thought about the importance of having plenty of signatures in advance of the deadline. Let me guess, the dog ate the homework?

    42. #42 • John •

      Good morning, your friendly neighborhood moderator here. Just a quick request for everyone to feel free to chime in, argue, disagree or pat each other on the back but in the process let’s try to avoid the personal attacks. There’s some great discussion happening, and I’d hate to see it get lost amidst a lot of teeth-gnashing.

    43. #43 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Thanks, John. For the record, as has been reported in Style Weekly, the Richmond Free Press and the RT-D, the record must note that either the representative from the 2nd District [Lisa Dawson] and/or/both the representative from the 6th District [Chandra Smith], had both opportunity and motive to remove two full sheets [50 signatures] of signatures from the papers that I left unguarded during a Student Discipline Committee meeting.

      I do not know for a stone-certain fact that either [or both] of my colleagues actually ate or otherwise removed the sheets. I do know that they each had opportunity and motive and that the signatures somehow disappeared from that room that afternoon.

      Because my “brain” is not wired as to anticipate this sort of a campaign trick, the citizens of Richmond and the Third District will either have to write my name in or accept that Mrs. Dawson and/or Mrs. Smith helped to ensure that there would only be only one name on the ballot this November.

      Perhaps I should feel “flattered” as my dear, departed friend Oliver Hill once advised: “When people resort to cheating in order to win, they are admitting that they cannot beat you legitimately.”

    44. #44 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      As to the accuracy of the remainder of the remarks tendered by Mr. Berlin and “Teacher,” I ask that the readers of this blog check out the Virginia Department of Education website and other “fact-neutral venues.” I do hope our special ed teachers who have experienced a dramatic increase in the number of students will help educate the public about the nuances of the language of the special ed regs and the increased workload (without commensurate pay increase).

      Anyone who honestly believes that building new buildings costs less than repairing and modernizing old ones should check out how much Chesterfield County is paying for new schools.

      I have repeatedly thanked John for providing this venue to allow questions and discussion of RPS policy matters to take place.

      I would not have indulged my penultimate posting had the information not appeared in the three other venues. Likewise, the ADA information is a well-documented matter of law and even the RT-D has praise today for the result of my efforts and those of Vicki Beatty to demand greater accountability and transparency from RPS.

      I agree with, John. Issues, not insults.

    45. #45 • teacher •

      Ms. Wolfe,

      Have you got some data regarding the long term costs of building repair versus the long term costs of building a modern facility and maintaining it? If not, your argument holds no value.

      Plant services has stated this, officials, who will remain unnamed, from the top floors of city hall have stated this. Logic works you know. Let’s take Kennedy High School for example. That building has so many problems that are expensive that it can’t even be sold. No one wants to pay for the abatement issues. Repairing hard wood floors in a school like Albert Hill would cost much more than a modern floor.

      I’m not interested in insulting you, but don’t you think a loss of two sheets of signatures would have been insignificant if you had prepared a little more adequately? Is it that difficult to have recognized that having more than enough is better than having just enough?

      Sorry if that hurts your feelings, but I get the notion that if you were so much in demand you’d have had plenty of signatures to spare. If you are in fact so popular, you’ll have nothing to fear as the number of write ins will be overwhelming to your opposition.

    46. #46 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      “Teacher” or whoever you are,

      Get your facts right.

      1. The name is spelled W-O-L-F. No “e.”

      2. The school you are referring to is the old Armstrong — not Kennedy.

      3. Individuals from Plant Services and the 17th floor of City Hall have played fast and loose with the truth for years, facts well-documented by City Auditor Umesh Dalal. See the two most recent audits.

      Finally, ignorant people with no command of facts do not hurt my feelings. You do try my patience.

      I have never claimed to be popular. I have always voted my conscience and fought for our children, teachers and families. I had plenty of signatures collected [far more than the 125 required], but the “disappearance” of 50 certainly presented far more challenge than I was able to surmount, to be sure. The registrar can confirm that I fell 14 signatures short.

      As to whether I fear a write-in campaign, I have not declared that I am running a write-in campaign. If citizens of the Third District write my name in it will NOT be because I asked them to do so, it will be because they realize they have the power to do so and choose to exercise that power. Or not.

      I have worked hard on behalf of our community and will continue to do so, regardless of people like you who find it easy to hurl anonymous accusations and insults. I stand by my record as a School Board member and will discuss and debate issues with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Just get your facts straight, first. ~ Carol Wolf

    47. #47 • teacher •

      Well Mrs. Wolf, thanks for revealing that side of your personality that people are familiar with. Argumentative and trenchant.

      I’ll admit that I made a mistake on the name of the school, but will you admit that 50 signatures could be obtained easily and you would have been wise to have had more than 200 signatures when a measly 125 are required. You said you lost 50. You had months to prepare. How hard can it be to have had this done in advance?

      You are one of the people who approve the hiring and firing of RPS employees; therefore, if you think the executives and plant services are liars why haven’t they been fired?

      Being anonymous is necessary as there are individuals like you who would take a personal vendetta out on my employment. I am protecting my family. I’ve been around long enough to know how these things go.

      So long. I am sure your collaborative style of leadership will be missed after November.

    48. #48 • gray •

      “…there are individuals like you who would take a personal vendetta out on my employment. I am protecting my family. I’ve been around long enough to know how these things go.”

      Teacher, you are right, there are individuals in RPS who have a personal vendetta out on certain employees, parents, and even students but Carol Wolf is not one of those scum buckets. In fact, Carol Wolf is the one that helps people who are being targeted by RPS employees and more would be accomplished if RPS administrators stopped participating in the school culture of lies, cover ups, and cronyism. And yes, there is a lot of cronyism in RPS…what else would explain the completely inept employees in charge of our children like the one ordering a teacher to pray at school, or the huge principal literally cornering a small teacher, placing a teacher in a time-out, or yelling at PTA parents. My favorite was the human resource guy acting all suprised by my family’s story regarding a bully principal when in reality he had already heard similar reports from teachers and parents. Yes there are some real shitty folks in RPS but Carol Wolf is not one of them.

      I also would recommend parents to check out the VA Department of Education website. Just recently I read through some school report cards and it looks like there are some schools that are definitely safer than others. I was wondering about the incidents involving weapons reported, especially at the elementary level…when we read those numbers, by weapons, do they mean anything that could be used as a weapon like a fork or does it mean things like guns and knives? Are elementary kids bringing real weapons to school?

    49. #49 • teacher •

      Well, we all have our supporters and detractors. However, preparation and collaboration go a long way in my book.

      After all, isn’t that an important part of leadership?

      Gray, nothing you said surprises me. I worked with a principal who was clearly racist. I reported a teacher for smacking a student, nothing happened. Yet, the mantra is always: You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. There is truth in that as well.

      Schools are not an employment agency. We should rid ourselves of those who aren’t involved for the right reason. But I don’t want to hear any of that you don’t get into education for the money crap. If doctors and lawyers get paid well for being highly trained, shouldn’t teachers be equally trained and paid? I can’t say how many times people have said we deserve to be better paid, but I can tell you how many times I have seen a citizen initiative to raise teacher salary: zero.

      Let’s boil it down to this. . . RPS has a lot of problems both in and out of the system, but until the citizens of Richmond start working more intently to fix it, nothing much will change.

      On a positive note, nice opening of the Olympics eh?

    50. #50 • gray •

      A pay raise should definitely be given to the qualified and educated teachers, especially the ones wanting to teach in the inner city schools. I’m tired of seeing the young teachers for only a year or two before they start applying for county jobs.

    51. #51 • teacher •

      Can you blame them? What does RPS have to offer? The altruist is also capable of a panic attack.

    52. #52 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      teacher,

      ‘Tis been said, “facts are stubborn things.” If you view my insistence upon facts as argumentative, then please know that I gladly accept your observation as a compliment.

      As to describing me as “trenchant,” I thank you for that compliment as well.

      trench·ant
      –adjective 1. incisive or keen, as language or a person; caustic; cutting: trenchant wit.
      2. vigorous; effective; energetic: a trenchant policy of political reform.
      3. clearly or sharply defined; clear-cut; distinct.

      Now, can we get back to the business of discussing open enrollment policies?

      BTW, Gray, thanks for the support! I absolutely agree that we should offer our highly-qualified teachers — young and old — signing bonuses and increased pay for renewing their contracts.

      I, too, am tired of losing our best and brightest to the counties. A telephone call to principals David Hudson (Holton), Michael Kight (Hill), Denise Lewis (Brown) and former Henderson principal Dr. Dionne Ward (now asst. Supt. for Secondary Education), will also confirm that I successfully fought to increase their pay as well, lest we lose their talents to the counties. ~CW

    53. #53 • gray •

      Carol Wolf,

      We need more like you on Board, especially in the struggling zones. Now if we can get those representing the cushier zones to fight for the poor ones or to atleast see and acknowledge the major differences between schools -how one elementary school will have an entire computer lab whereas another school is lucky to have one working computer in the classroom or how some schools retain their teachers when others witness a yearly mass exodus. Another awful difference is how lesser qualified staff armed only with multiple choice tests and the zero tolerance displinary policy are sent to work in poorer schools. Under such crappy care and inept leadership, students are criminalized for normal childhood behaviors, hence the extremely high suspension rates at the elementary level.

      For those who believe all schools offer an “exemplary” education, I ask of you to hang out for atleast one full day in a poor school, in a rich school, then in a diverse school with an exceptional leader. Choose a day after January when the SOL ever nine week testing begins. Drop in unexpectantly and don’t allow the principal to alert the staff. Have lunch in the cafeteria. And if it is library day, chances are you’ll get to see a movie or another worksheet.

    54. #54 • teacher •

      Well, there you go misunderstanding the context of things. I certainly meant it in the spirit of caustic, vitriolic, and ignoble.

      Good for you raising principal’s salaries while the fact remains for the last several years teacher salaries haven’t kept up with inflation and the changing of the steps has meant that teachers have up to 8 years of experience are only making 2,000 more than those with zero experience. Ridiculous!

      Gray, although I agree with many things you say, may I have your work address so I can drop in on you unexpectedly sometime and critique your work? I’m sure I am as qualified to critique your work as you are mine.

      I’m certain you would enjoy that as much as I do.

      Mrs. Wolf, we don’t need more of arguing, we need more effective leadership.

      Frankly, I’d like to know what qualifies you to run a school system anyway? Do you have a degree in anything related to education or public administration? Do you even have an advanced degree?

      If not, why not step aside for someone qualified? You wouldn’t push a heart surgeon aside to complete a bypass now would you? So why do that here when education is so important to so many?

      Of course there is a time to fight, but making peace and collaborating can sure get a lot more done, but that appears to be something you’ve not learned in addition to how to secure enough names to get on the ballot.

      But hey, I’m the ignoramus here, right?

    55. #55 • gray •

      Hey teacher,

      You’re watching and educating our children and our tax dollars are paying your salary, so yes we should be able to drop in and see what is going on anytime we want. When parents look for a pediatrician or a babysitter, do they just hire anyone and not bother with recommendations?

      I’ll tell you what teach, when you leave your children with me and pay my salary, I’ll let you come in and critique my work.

    56. #56 • teacher •

      Then why require qualification and licensing if anyone can come off the street and accurately evaluate what we do?

      Because you went to school doesn’t mean you have a clue as to what goes on on the other side of the desk.

      Of course you listen to recommendations, but that doesn’t mean you take the doctor’s stethoscope and show him how to use it. Somehow, people think they know everything about education without the slightest bit of research or practice.

      Certainly if the doctor is pulling out the bone saw when you need a wart removed, you can tell something is wrong, but parents come in a building, get a snapshot that may not represent the daily routine and then go blathering about how awful things seem. You wouldn’t take a surgeon’s license away because a patient dies on the table, but you want a teacher’s blood if a student drops out.

      The 50 cents your taxes contribute to my salary doesn’t entitle you to be my boss or qualify you to critique me on a professional level.

      Think about the golden rule. You basically admitted you refuse to follow it. You don’t want me to drop in on your work anytime unannounced and critique you, then don’t do it to us.

      After all, your presence is more likely to disrupt the flow of the classroom than assist. Otherwise, I’d be happy to come look over your shoulder at work and see if you are equally productive.

      No, we have nothing to hide, though some bad teachers might, but we deserve the same amount of respect you do. Don’t we?

      Enjoy the Olympics!

    57. #57 • gray •

      Pay my salary teacher then you can drop in on my work.

      I’m not watching the Olympics.

      Where do you teach teacher? You know that I’m a parent of RPS kids but I’m not convinced of who you are.

    58. #58 • gray •

      Teacher,
      In post #15, you said yourself, “Why not go to a school, walk around, and document who is not doing his job?”

    59. #59 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      teacher, teacher, teacher …

      This name-calling game of yours must stop. Surely you recall that old saying that mothers (and good teachers) have taught young children to say when they encounter name-calling-bullies: “I’m rubber and you’re glue, what you say bounces off me and sticks on you.”

      Enough, already. You conveniently ignore facts and when presented a dictionary definition of a word you used, let loose with a string of angry epithets. I have apologized to the citizens of the Third District and the City of Richmond for failing to turn the required number of signatures. I take total responsibility.

      Most people have not only accepted my apology and explanation, but have expressed thanks for my hard work on the board and sorrow that the politics of City Hall and School Board might deny them my leadership. But those who follow the news know that in addition to dissenting from certain actions of the School Board and City Administration, I have led my board to several key 9-to-nuthin’ votes and have helped to bring in millions dollars to our school system, notably several million of medicare/medicaid funds that went unclaimed until I arrived on the board and most recently $7 million in ADA funding.

      Your comments to Gray reveal that you don’t much care for parents who have legitimate questions about how you do your job. Your comments to me reveal you don’t much like the idea that citizens might elect someone who doesn’t have an “advanced” degree who stubbornly believes FACTS — and not collaborative fictions should be used when making decisions about our children and our tax dollars.

      Unlike in China, where dissenters who dare to question the actions of government are jailed (or worse), the right to dissent is as American as the 4th of July. This right is preserved in our judicial system where “dissenting” legal opinions have frequently proven to be prescient to future generations.

      One of the things I dearly love about America is that people can have differing opinions. You have a right to yours and others have a right to theirs. Yet, it seems obvious that even if I could walk on water, you would complain that WOLF can’t swim.

      Teaching is a noble profession, but it does not give you the right to insult the parents and citizens who elected me to make sure that those entrusted with our children and our tax dollars are doing what they are supposed to do.

      Could we please have a higher level of discourse here, one that seeks facts and solutions? ~ CWolf

    60. #60 • Anonymous •

      It seems to me that teacher is a fantastic example of what is wrong with the whole school system- insulting, resistant to change, and defensive to the end about how only professionals can run the system. If that’s so, then what would you call the people that have been running the sytstem until now? Professional is not a word I would use.

    61. #61 • edg •

      It seems to me both sides have traded insults here.

    62. #62 • teacher •

      If not professionals, then who? Is Joe or Jane Public qualified to run a school system?

      I’m not advocating a lack of public input, I’m supporting a system that makes sense. One ran by people who are qualified to do so. If all you are bringing to the table is a high school diploma, then I don’t think you have any business deciding what happens with 250 million a year in tax funds.

      Why is education the only business that everyone thinks they are qualified to do?
      Mrs. Wolf, have you ever been a teacher?

      Of course your entitled to your opinion and misinterpretation, but it doesn’t mean we have to listen to it.

      Yes, I said go to the schools and see what’s happening. No, I did not say drop in unannounced. No, I have nothing to hide and I welcome parental involvement. However, if you think I am going to let someone who lacks knowledge about how to do my job tell me how to do it then you are out of your mind.

      Hasn’t there been enough failure caused by an elected school board to signify a growing need for people qualified to do the job? Look at the president for a fine example.

      Let’s take the Personalized Education Plan for example. How do you plan to implement something like that effectively? It’s hard enough for teachers and administrators to get an IEP done right and now you want the equivalent of one for every student? Are you sure you know what you’re doing?

      Can’t get ADA compliance, but there is money for this that and the next principal’s salary.

      I don’t think a level of respect for teachers equivocates a disrespect for parents who have legitimate questions.

      You ought to read Socrates. He would have told you to let those qualified lead. I don’t think that kind of logic can be argued with, but if you want, suit yourself. Clearly, you are unqualified. Why not accept that?

      Mrs. Wolf, I am beginning to suspect that you are an egotistical, cavalier, know-it-all, whose unilateral decision making processes have only contributed to the fragmented system you have left us.

    63. #63 • GetRealRichmond •

      Seems to me Wolf is wasting her time trying to reason with people who aren’t inclined to listen.

    64. #64 • GetRealRichmond •

      Teacher,

      I am beginning to suspect that you are a cyber-bully and an ignoranus. Get ovah, yerself ….

    65. #65 • John •

      I’m sure this is a mild discussion as far as public weblog communities go, but I’d appreciate it if folks would stick to the issues and topics without slipping in digs and asides about each other.

      I can always just turn comments off and make this a dull, one-way community news board. I’d prefer if it were a two-way, community-driven discussion instead.

      Thanks,

      Your friendly neighborhood weblog editor

    66. #66 • gray •

      Teacher said, “No, I did not say drop in unannounced. No, I have nothing to hide and I welcome parental involvement. However, if you think I am going to let someone who lacks knowledge about how to do my job tell me how to do it then you are out of your mind.”

      Teacher, in my post #53, I was suggesting unannounced visits so one can see the differences in the schools over all, not to critique an individual teacher and tell her what to do. No where did I say that. Also you should know that many RPS claim to have an open door policy, meaning parents can stop in whenever they want (within reason).

      I agree with teacher on the IEPs for every child. RPS still hasn’t figured out how to do this well with the special needs students. Matter of fact, I spoke with a father last night who is pulling his slightly autistic daughter out of RPS because he said, “her IEPs have been crappy.” His family is moving to Henrico this month.

      IEPs also require parental involvement, something that is lacking in our neighborhood school. A teacher told me that only four parents showed up to one of the parent teacher conferences. That is four out of sixteen students with parents giving a damn.

      Speaking of “lacking knowledge,” we have a School Board member unable to write using correct grammar and the nine week tests downtown administrators dole out to the schools are filled with gross errors, misspellings, and poorly written paragraphs missing verbs. I counted atleast eleven errors on one of my daughter’s nine week tests.

      Two candidates I know running for School Board are incapable of writing a coherent sentence. We should ask all candidates to write an essay in class giving us reasons why we should elect them to School Board.

    67. #67 • teacher •

      I know people who are administrators that are illiterate, both downtown and at the building level. Yet, it has always been my experience that administrators seem to believe they don’t need to communicate. Instead they hand down their great ideas.

      I apologize if this has become an unbearable bickering fest, but the fact is that West and Wolf dissent when everyone else agrees. See their votes against Braxton for board president as well as their votes against Jewell-Sherman’s 2008-2009 budget.

      I’m not saying they don’t have good ideas, I am saying they don’t know how and when to collaborate.

      I am also saying that if Richmond wasn’t the home of the crony, an appointed school board could work. That is if people who are most qualified for the job could be appointed rather than so and so’s buddy.

      Additionally, just walking into a classroom is a serious security issue. Teachers and students have been attacked by unruly parents.

      I hear you on the people running for board. I was at the forum for them a couple weeks ago and some of what they had to say was such a clear view of their total lack of qualification that I couldn’t believe it.

      Back to the original point of this thread… school choice…. why should one school be so much worse than another that someone needs a choice? Shouldn’t they be equally good. If not, shouldn’t we move those people who are doing a great job to the places that need their leadership? It’s almost a joke that our best teachers get positions that they least need and our weakest teachers get the toughest spots. Schools that no one wants to work at are usually filled by new teachers. In high schools, new teachers usually get the more difficult classes to teach. There is something wrong with our culture in schools. Not all of them, but quite a few.

    68. #68 • gray •

      And some of those “toughest spots” are filled with substitutes -downtown doesn’t even bother to send the school full time teachers. This is happening at a middle school in our end of town.

      I like Wolf -she really is serving in the best interest of RPS students and I wouldn’t want her to agree with a group when they are wrong.

      Right now I’m down on West. I don’t like it that he is working for vouchers, i.e., dismantling RPS while serving on School Board. Check out the link in post #24.

    69. #69 • teacher •

      I’m familiar with it but school uniforms is a great idea for our students. They need to be prepared for the work force.

    70. #70 • gray •

      I also oppose uniforms. Here is the link to that thread http://chpn.net/news/2008/06/30/goldman-and-west-to-propose-school-uniform-policy/ .

    71. #71 • Roxie Allison •

      Self expression is important; however, conformity is also necessary. Uniform allow students to look beyond dress and what dress indicates to focus on those elements that are needed to excel in school and on the world’s stage. Making learning first and foremost is essential for children to work within educational settings that promote the learning, personal development, self reliance, self expression, and the acquisition of knowledge with understanding. Uniforms lifts many of the stigmas that are used to pigeon hold our children. Educators and children frequently view dress as a window into another’s life style, net worth and statue in our neighborhoods. To some, this strengthens the standings of a child with a favorable lifestyle and home life from those of humble surroundings. Thus the first step of condemnation that many never overcome is realized by children that lack the clothing of fellow classmates. Uniforms help place children on equal standing in the learning environment. Once a solid educational foundation is established (solid foundation) and the outer cover is not so important, moving away from uniforms would be appropriate.
      Uniforms are only one issue that needs to be addressed. There needs to be a citywide Richmond Public School’s dress code. Watching children leaving schools with boys’ pants sagging and girls wearing revealing clothing says to the public that our children are not ready to enter the world of work, professional development or higher education. Therefore, my recommendation is that uniforms should be worn until 9th grade and strict dress code through high school.

    72. #72 • teacher •

      Roxie,

      See my comment at the CHPN thread. I think you’d agree.

    73. #73 • Mom4Ever187 •

      We are thinking about selling our house because we are nervous about this “open enrollment” policy. What if the School Board eliminates it?

    74. #74 • Mom4Ever187 •

      Dear Mom4Ever,

      Please don’t put a “For Sale” sign in your yard because you are nervous about an elimination of this policy/changes in it might mean.

      I have heard from many people with great questions about it and I promise we’ll air all concerns and have some answers when the LLPC Committee meets on this topic on 8/28/08 @ 11:30 pm on the 17th Floor of City Hall.

      If you want to post your specific questions on this site, feel free. If you would like to send them to me directly, my e-mail address is Wolfies@aol.com. You can also call me at 264-8015 if you like.

      Thanks,
      Carol Wolf
      Third District School Board Member

    75. #75 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      I accidentally typed Mom4Ever’s info in the “name” line instead of my own. Apparently, we must both be AOL users.

    76. #76 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Forgive me, Mom.

    77. #77 • teacher •

      I wonder if mom4ever is willing to say this to the parents of the students at the school her child is zoned for?

      Would it sound something like, “We’re moving because we don’t want our children to be exposed to yours.”

      Or maybe, “Our little angel is too good to be corrupted by your little devils.”

      Or maybe, “Not my child.” “Not with those people.”

      Or am I missing something?

    78. #78 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Mom4ever,

      May I suggest that you should simply send your concerns to me directly? I have heard from several parents who have legitimate concerns about proposed changes to this policy.

      Every parent must make the best decisions they can for each individual child. No one — and no entity — has a right to second-guess a parent who is simply concerned about what will be best for their child or children.

      Please know that our School Board Committee is looking for ways to give parents more choice and more reasons to send, and to continue to send their children to our schools.

      Respectfully,
      Carol Wolf

    79. #79 • edg •

      My children have attended excellent RPS schools through No Child Left Behind. I have never asked for a favor, but worked within the system to assure they have attended accredited schools. NCLB guarantees bus service, as well, by Federal Law.

      If you live in an area that does have an accredited school, I urge you to check out that school. RPS has really been given a black eye and you might find that your neighborhood school is really very good. You don’t have to attend Fox to receive a great education in the city.

    80. #80 • teacher •

      Right on edg!

      Now that’s the most reasonable thing I have heard in a while.

      School choice is what has lead to de facto segregation and the fact that our school board members encourage this is absolutely appalling. Having lived in a large city where diversity is embraced, I can only feel ashamed of the status quo where city council members cite that schools like Fox, Mumford, Open, and Community are great schools. These schools serve less than ten percent of our students. Why shouldn’t ninety percent of our students attend great schools?

      If the administration is so great at those schools, then put them at our worst schools and get them turned around.

    81. #81 • teacher •

      As an addendum, school uniforms are in at Greene. It’s too bad RPS did its usual job of not communicating with enough of the parents, so they are shocked and have spent money on school clothes already. However, I’m glad they are starting this cultural shift away from parents being pressured by their children to purchase the fashions their kids have been brainwashed into thinking are cool. I hope they will follow through by having the middle and high school these children feed into become uniform schools as well. If I had a dollar for every time a child wore something inappropriate, made a nasty comment about another students clothes, wore something expensive but came to class without materials, I’d be making the level of pay I should be for being the foundation of society.

    82. #82 • ReachemTeachem •

      Good point, edg, but if all the city’s elementary and high schools are accredited, why is RPS still transporting kids under NCLB, that notorious UNFUNDED mandate?

    83. #83 • edg •

      NCLB only applies if the zoned school is not accredited. I was trying to encourage reader to attend their local accredited school, and if there isn’t one, to use the NCLB program to place their children into an accredited school.

    84. #84 • reachemteachem •

      I agree and thanks for the information.
      My children have attended Mary Scott, Ginter Park, Henderson and Community. All have received excellent educations!

    85. #85 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Dear Neighbors & Friends,

      If you want your questions answered in advance, today is the last call for questions about the proposed changes to the Open Enrollment policy.

      The LLPC [Legal, Legislative, Policy & Communications] Committee meets on this topic on 8/28/08 @ 11:30 pm on the 17th Floor of City Hall.

      I thank everyone who has taken the time to consider this policy and ask thoughtful questions. I have received tremendous response both on this site and at my home e-mail: Wolfies@aol.com.

      If you want answers sent to your personal e-mails, please forward your requests. Those who have already sent questions to Wolfies@aol.com will receive answers at the personal e-mails, otherwise, please check back to this site on Wednesday for answers.

      If you have any additional questions, do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail or to call 264-8015 and leave a message.

      Thank you once again for your tremendous response to this issue.

      Respectfully,

      Carol A.O. Wolf
      Third District Member
      Richmond School Board

    86. #86 • chuck •

      edg said:
      “NCLB only applies if the zoned school is not accredited. I was trying to encourage reader to attend their local accredited school, and if there isn’t one, to use the NCLB program to place their children into an accredited school.”

      This is not accurate. The requirements of NCLB have nothing to do with accreditation. Those are two different set of benchmarks. A school can be accredited and not meet the NCLB benchmarks and conversely, a school could meet the NCLB benchmarks and not be accredited.

    87. #87 • teacher •

      That’s so Chuck. NCLB has more to do with AYP which is annual yearly progress. Another interesting point is that NCLB has less teeth when a school is not a Title 1 school and a school becomes a Title 1 school based on the number of students who have applied for and receive free/reduced lunch. This is one of the reasons I suspect that schools may not be making a lot of effort to get that paper out to students. Although Title 1 means more money for a school it can also mean more punishment since many of our schools are not making AYP.

    88. #88 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Don’t worry, folks. The lawyers are weighing in and I will post their responses and the research I have compiled as well. Thanks to all posters’ best knowledge and effort, legal opinions and additional research, I think we should be well-prepared for this committee meeting.

    89. #89 • Kim Bridges •

      I’ve incorporated the Northside input sent by Ms. Wolf into the committee material for the discussion. Thanks for providing good input and issues to consider. And remember, any committee recommendation will go to the full school board for approval with time in advance for public comment. Stay tuned.

    90. #90 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Prior to leaving City Hall later today, I will post details of what transpires in the meeting scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. Check here for update and answers.

      Thanks so much for all your excellent questions and information.

      ~ Carol Wolf

    91. #91 • reachemteachem •

      Too All:

      The short version of what happened today at LLP Committee is simply that administration and school board attorneys need to complete the already assigned homework and answer additional questions before this committee can make any recommendation concerning any changes to process, procedure or policy.

      I am happy to report that one issue was clarified. If a child and siblings are attending an out-of-zone school, those children and are “grandfathered in” to the school.

      Other than that, nothing definitive was determined. I promise to keep one and all apprised and post answers as they arrive. I will provide a more detailed discussion of the points covered today later this evening (or early tomorrow morning).

      Thanks again for all your great questions!

      ~ Carol Wolf

    92. #92 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      I don’t understand why “reachemteachem”‘s name appears above. I posted this from a computer at City Hall. ~ CW

      To All:

      The short version of what happened today at LLP Committee is simply that administration and school board attorneys need to complete the already assigned homework and answer additional questions before this committee can make any recommendation concerning any changes to process, procedure or policy.

      I am happy to report that one issue was clarified. If a child and siblings are attending an out-of-zone school, those children and are “grandfathered in” to the school.

      Other than that, nothing definitive was determined. I promise to keep one and all apprised and post answers as they arrive. I will provide a more detailed discussion of the points covered today later this evening (or early tomorrow morning).

      Thanks again for all your great questions!

      ~ Carol Wolf

    93. #93 • teacher •

      Could it be your nome de plume?

    94. #94 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Nope. Could it be yours?

    95. #95 • teacher •

      It’s interesting that this is the second time that has happened to you. What are the odds?

    96. #96 • FighterMom4Ever •

      During Gaston, a sewer line running underneath the park cracked, and sewage damaged large sections of the park, including the tennis courts. Park officials will repair the tennis courts and the computers after they receive an insurance settlement. Tennis court repairs alone will cost $80,000, Everson said.

    97. #97 • gray •

      Megazones need to be erased. Why should a student in the eastend stand in line behind a student in Woodland Heights for a spot in Munford or Fox? I can get to those schools from Church Hill just as fast or faster. Everyone not in-zone should be considered out-of-zone and should be given equal opportunity in the open enrollment process.

    98. #98 • Kim Bridges •

      The enrollment policy draft does eliminate megazones–and thus megazone preference–so that any city family can apply for admission to any city school outside of their neighborhood zone. Based on the committee discussion, I’m updating the draft language (posted at the beginning of this article) to include both sibling admissions and “grandfathering” of current out-of-zone students. The committee also discussed how to provide secondary principals with an appropriate level of control over the number of students that can be accommodated in each academic program within a school. A number of questions were presented about NCLB transfers, but because those are separate from this process (with admission steps defined by the Feds) RPS administration will provide written responses about how NCLB tranfers are done. We can certainly post those as well; NCLB policies don’t seem to be widely understood, so we should do whatever we can to increase awareness of those policies too. Bottom line: the September LLPC committee meeting should allow us to review the updates to the draft so that the full board can discuss and vote on approval (with public comment time) in October. I may be at a conference during the regularly scheduled committee time, so stay tuned for dates.

    99. #99 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Dear Friends and Neighbors,

      Everyone present at the LLP Committee meeting agreed that the challenge of aligning open enrollment policy and process presents a confusing and complex problem.

      My ideal would be for this board to dedicate itself to ensuring that all schools in the system will be made equal, then having city-wide open enrollment would be fitting and proper.
      Theoretically, if all neighborhood schools were equal, this would not be an issue.

      While Mrs. Bridges and Mr. Braxton maintained that all schools are equal, I submitted that there is a public perception that they are NOT EQUAL, otherwise why would people want to go to a school not in their zone.

      Clearly, there are no easy answers to this one.

      But, realizing that the chasm between the ideal and the real is great, we must find a policy and a process that will move us closer to the ideal while simultaneously ensuring that Richmond’s families have the widest choice possible to make the best decisions for their children and neighborhoods.

      For example, if the board were to eliminate all megazones and megazone preference and opt for city-wide open enrollment, we would need to abandon our oft-stated policy of embracing neighborhood schools.

      Conversely, if we were to move to strictly enforce the zoned neighborhood schools and allow open enrollment contingent upon available space and the child’s family providing transportation, such a policy or process would place those families without transportation at a distinct disadvantage since they would not be able to exercise their right of choice.

      In order to have the information to make a data-driven and fair decision, I asked to know how many Nationally Board Certified Teachers are at each school, what extra-curricular and curricular-enhancing programs are at each school, the number of brand-new teachers vs. experienced teachers, number of computers in classrooms, libraries and computer labs.

      Additionally, I have previously requested information concerning already existing out-of-zone placements at each school and why, number of suspensions, number of special education vs. regular education students, teacher-pupil ratio per grade-level and classrooms, number of students enrolled in each school and number of field trips and culturally enhancing assemblies and special enrichment programs offered at each school.

      I am still waiting for this information and for additional data concerning the home elementary/middle schools of students admitted to the IB middle years and upper grades programs, Richmond Community, Open High School and Governor’s Schools.

      As stated earlier, Richmond administration and attorneys did not have the answers to these questions and those I submitted based on the concerns yo ave expressed. Since they needed more time to complete their homework, feel free to submit any additional questions you might have.

      ********** THE QUESTIONS **************

      1. I generally understand the federal requirements of NCLB as it relates to allowing children to access an accredited school. To my knowledge, the potential of such placement squeezing out other placements has existed as long as NCLB has. What seems new and of potential concern is the lottery element to the out of zone process for spaces remaining after NCLB needs are accommodated. How is this supposed to work?

      2. To begin, I am curious to understand the impetus behind the proposed lottery element. Is this out of some perceived unfairness to the current process? If so, what are the specific facts that drive the concern? I am sensitive to a fair system, but would want to know if this is necessary to achieve it. (For example, are there circumstances in which the current policy prevented people’s ability to achieve out of zone?)

      3. Can you obtain the numbers for each school that are NCLB placements, that are out of zone placements, and the number of out of zone requests that were denied (for reason other than performance or conduct issues)?

      4. My understanding is that Fox went to a lottery system some years ago. What led to that change and what difference has it made (good or bad)?

      5. As for the policy itself, a number of details related to the policy are not known: Is there a deadline for out of zone placement applications to be considered in the lottery?

      6. Does the lottery occur every year for each student/grade, or is a student guaranteed space (after NCLB placements) each successive year so long as they adequately perform and meet school expectations (as I know out of zone placement is considered a privilege)?

      7. I would have great concern if a student had to face the lottery each year (making school continuity a problem).

      8. Currently there is a general expectation (though maybe not policy) that siblings are able to follow students allowed via out of zone. Is this true? [SEE ABOVE].

      9. What is the plan for this in the current policy? I would of course be in favor of siblings being allowed to follow without having to go through the lottery. [SEE ABOVE].

      10. The 5-day notice is part of the current policy and is something we recognize can always happen, so this is not especially a concern for me. But, is there a way to ease this tension for other families?

      11. Priority 1 & 2 talk about NCLB and out-of-zone enrollments, does this mean that RPS are erasing the mega-zone lines? [THIS IS PART OF WHAT IS PROPOSED. SEE ABOVE].

      “In cases of unexpectedly larger school and/or class enrollment, principals may withdraw out-of-zone permission prior to the opening of school. Parents will receive written notice five days prior to withdrawal” – it would not give parents time to find another school or move to another neighborhood.

      12. Have you considered that an unintended consequence of this policy would cause folk to think twice before moving into certain areas if getting into a good school becomes near impossible and too risky?

      13. Acceptance at this program (IB) is based on the students’ academic, behavioral, and extracurricular performance” – some of the poor elementary RPS do not offer extracurricular activities. I wonder if kids graduating from wealthier schools with the certified teachers, technology, Accelerated Reader, arts and drama have a leg up on the kids attending poor schools with only the bare bones SOL based curriculum from Downtown. Not fair.

      14. Is transportation provided to Lucille Brown? If not, is this school eligible for NCLB students?

      15. Do the requirements of NCLB apply to all public schools, charters included since they are public schools in Virginia?

      16. What are the consequences of not meeting the state-developed goals different for Title I schools?
      Are all public schools expected to meet the goals?

      17. Are the schools and the school division penalized if they don’t? What are the consequences?

      18. Does transportation does factor into those goals or attendance zones?
      Does NCLB apply to the Patrick Henry charter school?

      19. Is Patrick Henry a Title 1 school?
      If NCLB applies to the charters and the Governors school does that mean they must give slots to kids coming from low performing schools first?

      20. Does this mean that RPS MUST provide transportation to the out of zone kids who have been accepted through NCLB?

      21. Is it true that the local school division makes the determination regarding which schools can accept students from low performing schools that must offer choice and which students are eligible to take advantage of the choice option?

      22. Is this is one of those instances where the sanction only applies to Title I school? What are the sanctions that might apply?

      23. If the local school division designates a charter school as a Title I school, is choice an option?

      24. I have a question regarding the draft and secondary schools – currently my son attends an out of zone secondary school. We did not participate in a lottery when he was admitted last year. Would this mean, if the draft was adopted, that he could loose his spot as an 8th grader if his name was not chosen (or, like Hanover County out of district students, once you are in middle or high you are in for the duration)?

      25. How were the open enrollment schools chosen? Ignoring megazones, the open enrollment elementary schools are Fisher, Southampton, Cary, Fox, Munford, Bellevue, Ginter Park, Whitcomb and Woodville. Is it intended that these will remain the open enrollment schools under the new draft, or will all schools be open enrollment?

      26. Is it true that there is no transportation for Headstart? The VPI program is underutilized in RPS by the kids who need it most for only one reason — the schools don’t provide pre-k buses.

    100. #100 • teacher •

      I’ll give credit where it is due… Ms. Wolf I respect that you recognize our schools are unequal. However, I’m a bit surprised you don’t seem to know much about Title 1. In question 19 you asked if PH Charter is Title 1… before that determination can be made it needs students, after that at least 40% of those must be identified as low-income, which is generally done by enrollment in the free/reduced lunch program. Furthermore, in response to question 23 Title 1 is made by federal determination not by the LEA. NCLB has more to do with Title 1 funding when it comes to penalizing schools than other issues.

      Yes, charter schools have to follow NCLB regulations as well. Here is a nifty little document that took me less than five minutes to find which answers your questions. http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/charterguidance03.doc

      I’d like to thank you for further supporting my argument that you have no to very little qualification for running a school system and that you should step aside for someone who would at least take five minutes to answer their own questions. Remember, as taxpayers, we’re paying 250 million a year into this system and we’d like to see it run by competent and qualified individuals.

    101. #101 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Teacher,

      These are the questions that my constituents submitted to me. I know plenty about Title I, NCLB, AYP, VAAP, VGLA, education law (both state and federal) and can, with great confidence answer each of these questions myself.

      But in the spirit of being a “team player,” I thought it best to allow our expert administrators, lawyers and my colleagues the opportunity to finish their homework before weighing in on these matters.

      I wouldn’t want anyone to be able to accuse me of being a “know-it-all” or of attempting to practice law without passing the bar exam and earning a license.

    102. #102 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      P.s.

      My questions are in the narrative that precedes the list of questions submitted by my constituents.

    103. #103 • teacher •

      It’s a waste of time to ask other people to answer questions for which you already know the answer.

    104. #104 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Teacher,

      Isn’t that what teachers do all day?

      As a policy-maker and a leader, I have learned that a little patience can go a long way to building success.

      I am confident that the administration and lawyers will provide the promised answers within the week.

    105. #105 • teacher •

      Checking for comprehension is a bit different than what you are suggesting.

      Good teachers explore concepts with their students and are open to new interpretation.

      I hope that as one who recognizes the inequality of our schools, you’ll make an effort to rid us of policies which continue to promote de facto segregation such as there are now. You should attend the school for which you are zoned. If you don’t like the school then do something about it. It’s pretty obvious that Open and Community serve as the public version of a private school.

      I find it humorous that some people are touting the percentage of high schools making AYP. If you remove Open and Community, what do you have 3/5?

    106. #106 • peacemaker •

      I found this thread interesting except for all the back biting. PLEASE restrain yourselves. Perhaps exchange email addresses and bicker on your own time.

    107. #107 • ReachemTeachem •

      http://chpn.net/news/2008/08/13/in-response-to-a-poisonous-environment/

      Peacemaker:

      Read this blog for a serious discussion of the need for people to respectfully disagree. Things have mightily matured on this thread as well. Sometimes people have to bicker a bit to work through things, but what matter most is that in the end folks can disagree without being disagreeable. The following two posts are noteworthy.

      # 56. posted by ReachemTeachem at August 18, 2008 12:43 am :

      I think the bigger thing that John Murden is asking of us is not so much for us “not to bicker,” but for us to find a way to have discussions and disagreements that are respectful of one another as human beings.

      I really appeciate the tone of what GRR has posted. Imagine what could happen if we all tried to find ways to have our differences but to be able to create something positive from those differences that could make a substantive improvement in our community?

      # 57. posted by john_m at August 18, 2008 7:26 am :

      I think the bigger thing that John Murden is asking of us is not so much for us “not to bicker,” but for us to find a way to have discussions and disagreements that are respectful of one another as human beings.

      That is well put

    108. #108 • ReachemTeachem •

      *matters

    109. #109 • teacher •

      I am not going to apologize for not being politically correct, polite, or congenial when students continue to become inmates, are passed on socially, and are generally treated without the respect that the knowledge of their being our future deserves. The incompetence that continues to drive our school system deserves no other term. The segregation that is perpetuated is unacceptable. The cronyism that remains must be routed.

      It’s time for a revolution in thought and action. The word mediocre isn’t even applicable to RPS.

      Of course there will be many who will say, I’m focusing on the negative and should be a team player and that I am a role model for many, so I should reconsider my caustic tone. I will not kowtow to the party line when it is continuing to destroy lives.

      We should be demanding better management, facilities, quality of improvement, and yet all around are people saying oh… be nice. Being nice has gotten our school system where it is. A place with two schools serving 400 students ranked as the nation’s best and yet the rest of the school system is the worst in the region, so much so that parent’s are saying they’ll put up a for sale sign if they aren’t given school choice. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. There is a lot to be angry about.

    110. #110 • GetRealRichmond •

      No one asked for your apology. But, what have you done to improve the system other than complain?

    111. #111 • Carol A.O. Wolf •

      Believe me, Teacher, I understand how you feel. But, comes a time when we need to move beyond the anger and dedicate ourselves to making the necessary change happen.

    112. #112 • teacher •

      Dear GRR…

      If only you knew. I’d like to tell you, but my job is sensitive. The fact that I haven’t left RPS given the experiences I have had is enough in itself, but I go beyond the call of duty on a regular basis. I do what custodians, security, other teachers, and administrators refuse to on a regular basis. I don’t need to prove myself. To give you an idea, there are few people who still work at the school since the day I was hired and I haven’t been there longer than 5 years. Turnover is a good indicator of the climate of the school.

    113. #113 • gray •

      There needs to be an agency outside and very separate from RPS for parents and teachers to go for filing complaints. RPS cannot be trusted to do what is right. I believe there are RPS folk in power that would rather crap on your child and mistreat teachers than fire their cruel buddies.

    114. #114 • teacher •

      I think it’s a bit more subtle than that. However, there are a lot of egos in the way of a more successful system.

      Shouldn’t we do away with school choice outside of NCLB? You live there, you go to school there, after all, what would your neighbor think if you told them your child is too good to go to the school his child is attending?

    115. #115 • gray •

      Teacher,
      I would not send my kids to a crappy school for my neighbors sake. Most families, hopefully, will put their children first over the feelings of the neighbors.

    116. #116 • teacher •

      Most families will hopefully come together to improve their mutual situation.

    117. #117 • gray •

      I know over at Cary, the in-zone and out-of-zone parents attempted to improve the situation but downtown did not lend their support and kept the bullying mean principal in place. For some, keeping their children in this school would be damaging to the children’s welfare and being. Not all schools are safe enviroments for our children.

      If we see a RPS employee verbally abuse students, shun teachers, “force” employees “to leave on their own accord,” cause discord between parents, students, and teachers, break laws, etc and downtown chooses to keep this type of “worker,” then citizens cannot trust using just any neighborhood school.

      Downtown needs to prove that children come first.

      The way it stands now, RPS would rather lose families that expose corruption in the RPS to the county and private schools than to actually take measures to improve things and get rid of rotten leaders/employees.

    118. #118 • teacher •

      Yes, I’ve seen some of what you are saying and this is why when it comes to government, we have to remind them who they represent. This is also why i think it is important to have highly qualified individuals running the system rather than only elected officials. There is a way to balance the two ideals.
      What is also key is that we treat schools that you describe (and crime and poverty for that matter) as something we do not fear. Just like arresting prostitutes and drug dealers does not solve the problem, transferring your children from a “bad” school does not repair the issue. If you think a school is inherently dangerous, then why would you abandon the staff in the school as well as the students who can not leave? I work in a school that is viewed as dangerous, but I don’t lose sleep at night thinking I am going to be killed.

      The bottom line is the buck stops with us and open enrollment passes the buck to those who are unable or unwilling to do the same. President Truman is probably turning over in his grave.

    119. #119 • reachemteachem •

      Teacher,

      We live in a culture that fears crime, poverty, drugs and violence.

      And no matter how highly qualified the individuals are who are running the system, no matter how highly qualified the elected officials are, facts are we will continue to battle the death-dealing inequalities of class struggle in this nation.

      We are blessed to have some sincere (and some self-righteous) do-gooders who offer to help our schools out of pity or because they want tax deductions, or both.

      These do-gooders, church people and just plain folk, some stalwart business leaders, seem to love to help out in our elementary schools, but once our kids hit middle and high school, these good citizens are suddenly too busy, too scared or just too tired.

      We have teachers in our schools, such as you, who know the score, but who remain silent. I do not know of one single teacher in this system who HAS NOT taken money out of his or her own pocket to help a child or family.

      We have teachers, such as you, who are so accustomed to feeling angry and powerless that you allow yourself to attack the parents of children with disabilities and the lone School Board member who have dared to demand change and have somehow managed to make some change happen, meager and miniscule that it is.

      We have teachers who dare to speak out and who are then driven out. We have families who suffer the horrors that Gray describes who are then “moved” to another school in the hope of silencing them.

      Until the “silent majority” of the not-really satisfied and the lucky ones with the money to move their kids elsewhere, decide they have had enough, that they are not going to sell their homes or pay private tuition, this is what it will continue to be.

    120. #120 • gray •

      teacher, you said, “If you think a school is inherently dangerous, then why would you abandon the staff in the school as well as the students who can not leave?”

      Are you out of your mind? We’re now expected to keep our children in a dangerous enviroment, like the one I described above where a principal mentally abuses children, for the sake of staff and other children? You’re nuts. No, downtown needs to fire employees like that. If you think for one second that a child should be left with cruel abusive adults then you shouldn’t be teaching anymore.

      Look my kids attend/have attended their neighborhood school but if I continue to hear anymore bull like you have been dishing out, I’ll fight for vouchers (If you look around on various threads you’ll find that I’ve been fighting against vouchers).

      No child should be left ever with an abusive adult.

    121. #121 • teacher •

      I am misunderstood.
      I’m not advocating for allowing children to be abused in any capacity. I am suggesting that the more we run from problems, the more we contribute to the growth of that problem. If you don’t believe we have run, then perhaps you haven’t heard of white flight. I do believe that by banding together and communicating we can stop the oppression that we have adequately identified. Vouchers are one more way of avoiding the problem at hand.

      I don’t feel powerless and I’m not afraid to speak out. However, I do have reason enough not to bite the hand that feeds me. I can appreciate that Ms. Wolf has done some good things, but I doubt there are many school board members who haven’t done at least one good thing for our schools, so what I am saying is there ought to be as much qualification for a school board member as there is for a medical or law board.

      I hope I have made myself clear and that you can share the logic behind my thoughts.

    122. #122 • gray •

      whew!

      Yep let’s band together and insist on better enviroment, higher standards, less multiple choice work and more critical thinking, qualified teachers and wise leaders, and let us finally rid the system of the street like thugs from the bottom up and top down. I never want to encounter again bullying and lying leaders or rabid foaming at the mouth cafeteria monitors.

    123. #123 • gray •

      And throw that “Zero Tolerance Disciplanary Policy” in the trash along with the “Three Strikes You’re Out” and the Bush, Jr presidency!

    124. #124 • teacher •

      Ms. Wolf,

      I should probably write this is an email, but I don’t want anyone to think I have a personal vendetta against you.

      Having said that, I consider your abstention on the PH Charter initiative one of the most respectful, professional, reasonable, and important actions I am aware of your doing.

      Even if the possibility of a conflict of interest law suit was at the heart of it, I think the division that has developed since the original vote is an indication of a recognition by at least some board members of the lacking, if not conflicting, research of the efficacy of charter schools and the realization of the possibility that the charter school would only further propagate the de facto segregation already evident in our school system.

      This very evening, I have spoken with many teachers in RPS who feel that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but it is important to remember that there are many squeaky wheels that are more like loose cannons. We realize that you are advocating for your precious children. We realize they are precious. However, we know that education and economics has a lot to do with why schools are the way they are. The grand question that we would like to answer is how to solve inequality/inequity in our schools. Unfortunately, many of us have come to the conclusion that there will never be an end to this problem. Perhaps this is due to capitalism. However, we have vowed never to give up fighting for equality and we are making every effort to better understand how to make this a reality.

      The fact a charter school would remove funds from public education via the reduction of enrollment in other public schools is a major reason that anyone who believes in improving public education is important must abstain from supporting charter schools.

      The fact that Mr. Day (I hope I have his name correct) left the meeting saying that “we must consider our legal options” is only a further indication of a position in which the will and effort to improve education is wrongly affected. If Mr. Day spends one dollar fighting the system, one hour rallying against it, it is time and money that would be better spent in improving the very schools that already exist.

      I sincerely hope that people will recognize this force to dis-incorporate from public school will bear fruit only for those whose interests are served by it. We can not continue to try to avoid the negative in our schools. We must face it with full-hearts and bravely work together to say the time has come for our schools to be what everyone knows they can be. There is not a lack in funding as much as there is a lack in priority. We may just have to sacrifice a little something to get what we want. Someone might have to not drink a beer, see a movie, buy a new pair of shoes, get a manicure, go to the golf club, or some other such luxury, so that we may make our schools the priority that they should be, the highest priority.

      Mr. Day, are you willing to sacrifice your efforts in one area to improve another?

      Do those of you who fear for your children dare to embrace your neighborhood school and be a part of the team who can proudly say we have chosen to stay when others have ran because we believe that though RPS is in a dark hour, the darkest hour is just before the dawn of a new era? For it is through our schools that we will solve poverty, crime, blight, pollution, and other social ills that no amount of policing, welfare, imprisonment, abandonment, and fear ever will resolve.

    125. #125 • gray •

      What if RPS administration signs a contract, promising to support parents efforts if they choose to use their neighborhood school? Keep in mind that parents previously looking for a way out of RPS will not approve of street thugs ruling their children, staff breaking the law, for example, promoting one religion in the school, or untrained/unsupported teachers focusing on those academically behind while the rest wait or fall between the cracks.

      Yes a contract would be good.

      Another good idea that a fellow parent once suggested -have parents fill out exit surveys. Find out why families are leaving their neighborhood schools. This would help RPS zone in on problem areas and fix them.

    126. #126 • gray •

      By the way, the Charter contract should be amended and approved. Expecting the charter to be ADA compliant in one year is completely unfair.

      If RPS had signed a contract like this, we would have to close 50 schools today. How many years has RPS had to become ADA compliant? 18 years? How many Richmond Public Schools can folk wheels themselves into?

      I say approve this Charter and give them a fair amount of time for ADA compliance, like 3 to 5 years. I’d like to know of the other unfair things in that contract.

      I’m thinking that our representatives want this Charter to fail because we know for a fact that most Richmond Public Schools would have failed under the same conditions and requirements.

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