The Virginia State Board of Education on Tuesday identified the 37 schools statewide that are considered to be priority one schools, meaning they are in the bottom five percent of schools receiving federal funding.
Of that number, the city of Richmond has 12 schools on the list, a totally unacceptable number, according to Jeff Bourne, Richmond School Board Chairman. Title I is a federal designation for schools in which the majority of students live below the federal poverty line.
The results came about because of the scores the schools received on the Standards of Learning tests last year. As part of Virginia’s waiver from federal No Child Left Behind requirements, those schools must use state-approved turnaround partners to quickly improve their performance.
The listing of the priority schools cannot have come at a worse time, but no time is really a good time. We have a school board that has been devastated with internal shakeups, and a City Council that would rather spend money on baseball stadiums than education.
The most revealing comment comes from Richmond School Board member Kristen N. Larson of the 4th District, who said the inclusion of six middle schools on the list made her think it was time for a whole new way of thinking.
"Trying to solve old problems with the same solutions is not the way to go,” she said. “At a number of our schools that have been struggling for years, I think we need to do something bold and different."
Larson went on to say that we need to look at other cities and in other states to see what is working best. This may be true, but with the foot-dragging going on with this council, it may be too little, too late.