We can have amazing schools that develop students to be critical thinkers, community builders, and architects of our future. We can have a public school system with arts, science, and athletic programs, where young people can pursue their interests and build skills and discipline that will serve them their entire life. We can have schools with amazing working conditions and fair compensation that promote teachers who make careers in single schools and offer our students stability. We can create tracks for cafeteria workers and instructional assistants with long-term relationships to neighborhoods are trained to become teachers. We can have schools that are community hubs, where the student art exhibits are neighborhood events, where high school basketball games bring everyone together, and GED classes and English classes are offered at night.
HOW DO WE GET THERE?
Robust Funding | Democratic Governance | Student Civil Rights | Teacher Free Speech
1. ROBUST FUNDING
For too long we’ve allowed wealthy special interests to dictate the agenda of our city while sacrificing the needs of our schools. Our students deserve more, and we deserve a political leadership willing to demand the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes to fully fund our schools. Our campaign commits to pushing the school board to take a more proactive role in fighting for full funding of our schools at the city level. We will ensure the school board puts forth a needs-based budget, which promotes democratic process centered around meeting the needs of our district. We will directly advocate to raise our corporate tax rate for the first time in forty years and raise the income tax rate on earners making 200k a year or more.
2. DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE
Democratically-governed schools allow the community to have voice and develop solutions that benefit all of us. Eleven years ago corporate leaders in Richmond moved to abolish our democratically-elected school board. This is consistent with efforts across the country of corporate education reformers pushing for mayoral, and in some cases state control, of our schools. These moves happen at the expense of the political voice and power of those who will be directly affected by decision-making: often communities of color and teachers. Educational policy analyst Diane Ravitch has warned that Richmond may be the next battlefront between the community and corporate interests that seek to privatize our schools. Our campaign commits to fighting privatization of public schooling in all forms, demanding democratic community control of our schools. We will oppose corporate management of schools, disempowerment of our teacher workforce, and privatization of school services.
3. STUDENT CIVIL RIGHTS
The right of all people to access a high-quality public education is a fundamental tenet of democracy. Our schools should offer all students a safe environment in which to learn and grow. This means protecting the safety of all students in their classrooms, including students who, for whatever reason, need support adapting to a classroom environment. Our campaign commits to the reduction of classroom referrals to law enforcement through school staffing with full-time trauma-informed care specialists and restorative justice practitioners who can serve as a non-disciplinary first responders in a classroom conflict. We commit to the broader reduction of the school-to-prison pipeline by re-negotiating the criteria under which arrests of young people from school can be made.
4. TEACHER FREE SPEECH
Our teachers’ working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. We recognize that our teachers have an important social role and are uniquely situated to report on the needs they see emerge in their classrooms. Our teachers bring craft and expertise to their work every day, and our school district will be served by ensuring their security when they speak out. Our campaign commits to supporting an empowered educational workforce by putting forward a teacher free speech resolution that ensures the rights of teachers to speak publicly about their needs and the needs of their students.
"We are going to build a multi-racial movement of parents, students, educators & community, that wins funding and builds the high-quality public schools our students deserve."
The state has decreased support for Virginia's public schools by about $1 Billion compared to pre-recession levels
Total state direct aid to Virginia's public schools in billions of FY 2015 dollars
Source: Virginia Department of Education Direct Aid Payment Calculation Templates, Final Direct Aid FY 2009-2015 and Projected FY 2016 Note: State support at pre-recession levels (the top line) was calculated by applying the amount the state spent per student in 2009, inflation adjusted, to the average daily membership for each successive year.