Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Me? For the School Board?

A loyal reader named Gray commented on a previous entry and ended with the following language:

James River Maven, you should consider running for School Board. And I enjoy your writing.

Gray, I am so glad that you enjoy my writing. I try hard to make it meaningful and enjoyable. Hopefully, once in a while I give you a bit of a chuckle.

But, Gray, if you like me, why would you suggest that I run for the School Board? I know lots of school board members and they are always working hard and feeling frustrated. After the events of this past week, I’m sure that there are lots of citizens of Richmond who would just like to flush the whole School Board into the James. Being a member of the School Board these days is not the best way to win friends and influence people. There is also strong division on the board. There are factions working against factions. Some members are more concerned with their own agenda than with the well being of our children.

Gray, what could the maven do to make things better on the board and in Richmond Public Schools? I couldn’t even win the Peoples Magazine “World’s Sexiest Man” contest. (They picked, of all people, Matt Damon, although I will demand a recount.) So why do the citizens of Richmond need me on the School Board?

1. I would demand accountability, not only from myself but from all other members of the board and all officers and employees of Richmond Public Schools. Working for the citizens of Richmond is a privilege, not a right, and everybody who is enjoying that privilege must meet the highest standards. We most be proactive in protecting the taxpayer’s money; we can’t just sit around waiting for the next audit.

2. I would demand excellence from all our students. We have been too tied up in meeting SOL and No Child Left Behind standards. These Commonwealth and federally imposed standards only require our students to pass. Our students must be striving for A’s, however, not just for C’s. We must subject our students to more stringent course requirements; we must abandon the idea that somehow Richmond students are incapable of excelling.

3. I would demand excellence from our teachers and administrators. Our students deserve the best. When necessary we must retrain our teachers in modern and effective teaching methods. We should recognize those teachers who are doing the best job and work with the others to bring them up to our high RPS standards.

4. I would demand that the members of the board treat each other with respect. I certainly expect that intelligent, caring people will have differences of opinion. However, the citizens of Richmond have a right to expect that their elected officials will act like adults.

So, Gray, with that kind of agenda would I do well on the School Board? Would I even be elected? Many voters expect candidates that know all the answers and will promise to fix everything. Gray, I have lived long enough to know that I don’t have all the answers. I also will not make promises that I cannot keep. The only promise I would make to the taxpayers is that I would do everything I could to make RPS a school system we can be proud of. RPS must provide all children in the city a world-class education. RPS must become such an excellent system that parents will move from the suburbs to the city to get their kids into our schools. Gray, to become a great city, Richmond must have great schools


Anonymous said...

Go Maven!


Gray said...

I’m not voting for someone interested in winning friends. After all school board is not a social club. I’m looking for wise leadership. I agree with you on the NCLB and SOL standards –a strict adherence to these policies can do more harm than good to inner city and rural schools. And the promise you did make is a good one. Regarding the “Sexiest Man” contest: If you are confident enough to demand a recount in going up against Matt Damon then your looks are good enough to influence people.

Anonymous said...

I notice you're not making any demands of the parents of the children. I believe that's one of the biggest problems in education anywhere, and it certainly isn't better in the city.
How about demanding that the parents do their part to support their children's education by teaching them basic manners, some sort of respect for authority, and participating by volunteering their time?