Sunday, January 06, 2008

Chairing the School Board

Last year, when I read that my School Board representative George Braxton was seeking the chair of the board, I felt like calling him and advising him not to do it. I knew that in Doug Wilder’s Richmond the chair of the board would become the lightening rod absorbing all those thunderbolts from City Hall. I knew that, because Mayor Doug cannot tolerate any independent thinkers with authority in our fair city, the chair of the board would also be subject to very personal attacks from His Excellency. I was afraid that if George took the job he would get burnt out from all the political battles that he would have to fight. However, although I consider George Braxton a friend, I didn’t feel that our relationship was close enough for me to offer him that kind of advice.

Well, dear reader, it is a year later and I read in the TD this weekend that 7th District board member Keith West is challenging George Braxton for the position of chair. And, again I feel like calling George and advising him that if Keith really wants the job he should step aside and let him have it. Let Keith deal with all the fireworks from the mayor. Let Keith deal with all the politics. Let Keith deal with all the stress that goes with the job. Let Keith experience the lack of gratitude that George must feel.

But, then I started thinking. If George Braxton is replaced as School Board chair by Keith West, Doug Wilder will consider it a personal victory. And, knowing His Excellency, I assume that the mayor will publicly gloat over getting rid of that pesky George Braxton. Also, if the board does not retain George Braxton as its chair, it would be interpreted by the public as a repudiation of all that George and they have accomplished since last year. This would not be good for the city or for all our children

So, even though I think that George’s physical and mental health would be better served by him not serving another year as chair, I am not going to make that call. I think that the needs of Richmond Public Schools must come first in my thinking. George, if you read this, I think you really have to stay on and finish the job that you started last year. (My apology to Kelly and the kids.)


Paul Hammond said...

Time to get nervous again. I stand (sit) in agreement with you once more, at least in the spirit of your post. I don't know either George Braxton or Keith West, but when I get an email from the Mayor urging my attendance at tonight's school board meeting I know somethings rotten in Richmond.

Check out my last two posts, especially "Save Richmond, Click Here". I think you might enjoy them.

RVA Foodie said...

Maven, I appreciate this thoughtful post. There's no doubt in my mind that Wilder weighs heavy in any equation concerning the schools and the School Board. While I don't think swapping Board presidents is going to be a panacea, I do think the city's leadership should feel increased pressure to make significant improvements in RPS system ASAP (including construction on new facilities). So, I guess, I question is, who is ultimately accountable? When is enough enough?

ps: Thoughts on the River City Rapids and Save Richmond pieces on this?