Over the past few months, Richmond Public Schools has found itself on the front page of the paper quite a bit. From the cheating scandal, to the revelation of millions of dollars, to the improper calculation of GPAs and, most recently, the length of school days that fails to meet state guidelines. Coupled with the professional development expectations, we find ourselves discussing the issues in RPS more frequently than any of us would like. Unfortunately, during these discussions, we tend to ignore the people affected the most: the students and, ultimately, our community.
Tonight, the School Board will vote to approve the amended start times at local high schools, as well as the professional development plans suggested by Superintendent Kamras late last week. Yes, the timing and method of these changes were flawed, but these changes must be made. I have observed and participated in numerous discussions about these changes over the Labor Day weekend and most people say that these changes inconvenience teachers. But we should be discussing how the current system is failing our students. We should be discussing that our students deserve better and we should all be willing to sacrifice a little more to help them.
Research suggests that students in districts experiencing high poverty lose dozens of hours of class time per month because of stressors such as: unstable housing, lack of medical care, community violence, unreliable transportation and old, dirty schools. These are all issues that affect RPS. I am sympathetic to many of the issues and concerns that I hear from teachers; some of my closest friends and family members are educators. They all say that they became teachers because of the impact that they can have on the world. Remember that mission, BECAUSE our kids can’t wait.