Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Patrick Henry Charter School
First, I am sorry about the off topic commentary and rants of late, but hold on for one more. Second, most of my readers do not live in Richmond, so likely this is of no interest to you unless you just love to delve into the craziness of local politics. I also have to apologize that this has ABSOULTEY positively nothing to do with food.
So why am about to post on something not of interest to most of my readers???? Because I am using the only vehicle I have to get the word out to folks in Richmond that read my blog that might have a dog in this fight. So there (kidding!!).
I would love to go into a litany about the love /hate relationship I have with the city in which I choose to call home, however, for once in my mouthy life, I will attempt to show some restraint and stick to the topic at hand, schools. Though, let me be frank, it is killing me!
Richmond, is not in a totally unique position. I believe, that in America we have a public school crisis. This crisis will rock our country in about 20 years, when we are having a hard time competing in a world economy because our kids are going to lack the critical and analytical skills needed to compete against workers educated outside the U.S. That said, Richmond seems to take special pride in cultivating terrible schools.
Then came a dedicated group of parents that wanted a change. They were tired of seeing their friends leave to go to the county once their children got school age. They loved their city and they wanted the kids of Richmond to have an innovated and cutting edge school. They have worked tirelessly, for YEARS, to bring about Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts (PHSSA). Each step of the way Richmond Public Schools has thrown up, what the average person, would see as near insurmountable obstacles. I, for one, am ashamed to say, I never thought they could do it. This band of 20 or so folks, scaled every obstacle. Their support continued to snowball and their grassroots effort took hold. Richmond wanted a change and PHSSA embodied that change. They set about doing what Richmond had been failing to do for 20 or more years. Provided an opportunity to each and every child within the city to not only an adequate education but a stellar one.
After years and years of work they are set to open their doors in July (it is a year round school). For those of you that don’t know what a charter school is let be back up a little and explain. A charter school is a public school, it is available, at no cost, to any student (in this case any student in the city of Richmond). However, the total cost of opening the doors is born by the charter school. They only get public funding once the doors are open. Once open, a Charter school still has to pay some of there own way ,unlike a public school, but that cost is covered by fundraisers and grants, not by charging admission. PHSSA has been able to secure all the funds needed to open their doors. Now, at the twelfth hour, after hundreds of thousands of dollars have been secured, Richmond Public Schools is trying to renege on funding promised and needed once the doors open. I wish I could say I was shocked I am not.
Someone asked me why, why wouldn’t Richmond Public Schools want to add to their accomplishments a Charter school? She went on to say, every area she has ever known that has had charter options has thrived. It is a good question. Richmond is an amazing city, that has thrived not because of great leadership but in despite of bad. I can’t imagine the booming city Richmond could be if it could just simply say 4 words, “We have great schools.” This really is a matter of if you build it they will come. So what could Richmond possibly stand to loose by not supporting this?
Simple, it will be a glaring monument to the fact that Richmond leaders had failed their residents. It took 20 people to do what a city either could not or would not. It will be an unquestionable documentation to the fact that Richmond Public Schools had not only failed their children but have continually done so, not for lack of resource but simply for lack of want. It is shameful and they know it.
So if you live in Richmond and want to support PHSSA please come to the school board meeting February 1st details linked here http://www.richmond.k12.va.us/schoolboardnew/index.htm