Open Letter on Richmond School Funding from APV
For Public Release:
The Alliance for a Progressive Virginia supports a strong commitment to public education in general and especially as it pertains to the Virginia public schools.
Since the 2008-9 financial crisis we have watched as the Commonwealth’s public schools have taken blow after blow as priorities were shifted and funding cut.
With this recent past in mind, we are deeply concerned about proposed, substantive redevelopment in the downtown area of the city of Richmond and its possible impact on our troubled local school system. While a majority of Richmond voters have repeatedly demanded fundamental improvements in Richmond schools, they have been answered, not with plans to recruit qualified teachers, repair substandard buildings and cut wasteful top-heavy administration, but instead with aggressive development schemes initiated in the business sector and supported by Richmond City officials who seem to view education in our city as an afterthought to the chimeric pursuit of “growth”.
It is time for our city to realize that we need working services here, now! The long-term dream of enticing low service/high tax base, young professionals to the city with the targeted development of one and two-bedroom luxury apartments and gimmicks like easy (arguably unnecessary), transportation from city-sponsored breweries to a single west end shopping center are not sufficient. If anything, this attempt to cater to a single demographic has led to “growth” in ways that have transformed our city into a place that often seems barely recognizable, and one that does not support vulnerable communities, affordable housing or local business.
Richmond already attracts young, educated professionals with lavish support for our local universities, a thriving food and art scene and a long tradition of gracious living in a welcoming community. The question is how will we retain them when they want to start families? Young families should be an anchor and base for the city but instead we continue to see them migrate to surrounding counties where the school systems are alive and well, taking their tax dollars with them.
It is time for Richmond to stop entertaining tax-funded mega-projects that enrich the business community while leaving the majority of Richmond citizens with little in the way of tangible, positive outcomes. We have seen this movie and all of its remakes time and again, and we know the ending. We keep asking our citizens to pay for boondoggles like for instance, the Redskins training camp complex while essential services are left to atrophy. It’s time to say enough is enough.
The Alliance for a Progressive Virginia supports a thorough and transparent vetting of the proposed Navy Hill/Coliseum project in terms that the general public can understand and respond to at every phase of its potential development. While APV supports Councilperson Kim Gray’s proposal for an independent research team to investigate the particulars of the project on behalf of City residents and would encourage all Council members to support her proposal, we are dismayed and disappointed that once again tax dollars must be spent in order rein in a project we never asked for. Citizens need to have access to meetings at times and at places that accommodate working people, during which they are able to ask questions and receive honest answers, rather than a glossy sales pitch.
We need a lot more information and oversite than we’ve gotten and we need to keep our eye on the ball: Schools and public services must be our top priority!
President, Alliance for a Progressive Virginia.