Thursday, October 30, 2008

What This Campaign Is Really About

Now, that we are down to the last five days in the School Board race, this maven is thinking again about how I got here in the first place.

Why am I running?

· I am running for the children of Richmond. Although Richmond Public Schools has made considerable progress in the last four or five years, and although there are particular schools or programs that are outstanding, I am convinced that many of our children are not receiving the quality education to which they are entitled.

· I am also running because my religious upbringing taught me that if I see injustice in the world I am obligated to do something to fix it. To me the fact that the quality of education that children in Richmond receive varies significantly with the school they attend is a significant injustice. The fact that some of our children finish their education in Richmond (either by dropping out or graduating) without receiving the skills they need to make it in the world is also a significant injustice. We need to do better.

· Further, I am running because I am deeply concerned with the fact that middle class families are leaving the city to seek what they feel are better educational opportunities for their children. I am worried that if this trend is not reversed, we will end up with a very family-unfriendly city. We must stop this middle class hemorrhage.

· Finally, as a taxpayer, I am running to change the business climate at Richmond Public Schools so that waste and mismanagement of the taxpayers’ money stops.

What I will do? If elected,

· I will work with parents and school principals to make neighborhood schools work for all our children. Our neighborhood schools can be the core around which we build healthy and safe neighborhoods. Getting parents involved in our neighborhood schools will strengthen their ties to the neighborhoods and will improve the learning experience for everybody’s children.

· I will add funding to the Richmond Public School budget for four International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programs. I intend that one of these programs will be implemented in a fourth district school. I have previously explained why I think that the International Baccalaureate approach to learning will teach our children how to think, how to gather information, how to make decisions, how to understand that everything is related, how to communicate and how to relate to a world of different people from different cultures. International Baccalaureate Revisited.

· I will bring accountability to Richmond Public Schools. My twenty five years experience with the Government Accountability Office in Washington has given me the knowledge and skills necessary to uncover and eliminate unlawful and wasteful spending in government programs, including Richmond Public Schools.

· I will involve the entire Richmond community in providing a high quality education to our children. Neither a new Superintendent of Schools nor the nine members of the School Board will be able to make the changes we need to make Richmond Public Schools great. We need the involvement of our next mayor, the city council, the PTAs, the Richmond Education Association, the business community, our three universities, faith and civic groups, parents and those without children to join in this endeavor.

· I will bring new ideas to Richmond. Since my children did not grow up in Richmond, I have experienced what other successful school systems are doing. I have already suggested 1-changing curricular emphasis from teaching children only the facts they need to pass SOLs to teaching them the skills they need to compete in a global market place; 2-further rewarding our teachers and administrators by offering them an optional merit pay system that will enable them to earn larger pay increases each year; 3- creating “hybrid” or contract schools, in which school principals are given greater autonomy to achieve certain goals and have the opportunity to earn greater compensation based on how well their school performs; 4- creating an “Order of Richmond Heroes,” and offering bonuses to quality teachers who will agree to teach in our more difficult schools; 5-extending the school year or the school day to provide more learning time for our children.

Why I am the best candidate

· Unlike other candidates who talk about their “passion for education” or who run on slogans, I have demonstrated my commitment to the children of Richmond by working as a volunteer in Richmond Public Schools for almost as long as I have lived in Richmond. I have worked in Westover Hills, my neighborhood school, and in Carver School, which is located in one of the poorer neighborhoods of our city. My experience has enabled me to understand the issues that school administrators and teachers deal with on a daily basis. I have also been active in Friends of Fourth District Schools, which is working to improve all the schools in the district.

· I have established relationships with others committed to bringing great schools to Richmond. These relationships will help me build community support for making our public schools the best in Virginia.

· I am a uniter. I will work to get all the stakeholders in RPS to understand that they are all in the same boat and must work together for the good of our children. I will convince parents in all economic circumstances that they are not adversaries fighting for a limited piece of the education pie.

· I understand that politics is the art of getting things done. The word “compromise” is part of my vocabulary. I also understand that I do not have all the answers. I will work well with the other members of the school board.

· I am impatient. I am tired of continuous discussions and planning. We know what has worked in other school systems. It’s time to stop planning and start acting.

So, dear reader, that’s what it’s all about. By late Tuesday night we will know which of us the voters of the Fourth District have chosen to represent them on the Richmond School Board. We will also know who they elected to serve them in such lesser offices as president, senator, representative, mayor and councilperson.

1 comment:

Terry Ellen said...

First, I must find a descriptor equivalent to "her maveness." Thinking about my summer as the defendant in a $30 million+ lawsuit, how about Mr. Sue-ee?

OK - Mr. Sue-ee and I here in Christiansburg (aka Carters, across from McCauleys) wish you well and look forward to your election on November 4. You and President Obama...