Education: The Great Equalizer
Nearly three years ago, I sat in my office as the new superintendent of Richmond Public Schools with members of the Office of Communications & Media Relations for my first interview. As I discussed my personal and professional journey, I recall being asked to elaborate on why I believe education is the civil rights issue of our time. Reflecting on a recent article by the Washington Post on the racial and economic segregation of Virginia’s public schools, I think back to my response then and why my belief still holds true today.
Without a doubt, I believe education is the great equalizer. Like Richmond Public Schools, many public schools across the country are faced high levels of economic deprivation that often result in widening achievement gaps. It is widely known that Richmond has one the highest levels of economic inequality in our nation. Within our region exists one of the highest concentrations of public housing on the East Coast. Over 40 percent of our school-age children live in poverty and our district’s free and reduced lunch rate stands at 77%.
While we recognize the economic disparities that exist across our country and within our region, we must move from awareness to action. Working together to narrow achievement gaps and providing opportunities for all students to succeed in a 21st-century economy is a moral imperative.
I am encouraged by the work of our parents, staff and community and civic leaders in helping to improve opportunities for our students, and very much look forward to working together with our newly elected leaders in advancing our efforts to ensure academic success for all students. As we begin discussions on our 2017–2018 budget, I invite all stakeholders to participate in our annual Community Perspectives Survey. I also ask that we remember change is a process and not an event that happens just because one ask. We are committed to ensuring your voice and opinions are included in our discussions while we continue to foster and demonstrate resilience, pride and success the norm throughout our school divisions. #WeAreRPS