Ambiguous News in Richmond

The Times-Dispatch this morning reports that Richmond has (at last) decided to do something about its ongoing educational disaster.

The RT-D quotes interim Chief Academic Officer Victoria Oakley: “The bulk of our work needs to be with these partially warned and the schools that are in denied status to move them to full accreditation.”

We might hope they would revise that statement to “The bulk of our work needs to be with these partially warned and the schools that are in denied status to move them to full accreditation.”

If Richmond tackles the hard problem – the schools whose repeated failures have landed them in the accreditation basement – they will necessarily solve the easier problems at the same time.  If they attack the spectrum, there will be a temptation to focus on the easy wins.  That could impair the effort in the schools where it is most needed – and where nearly half of Richmond’s students languish in failed schools.

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(2017 data here and here)

Please recall that they are dealing, in the worst case, with this appalling situation:

http://calaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/image-142.pnghttp://calaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/image-143.png

The (perhaps) good news in the story:

[The] work involves meeting with school principals to make individual plans and see where intervention or professional development is needed. Schools are creating progress plans that will be tracked monthly.

There are at least two ways to translate that bureaucratese:

  • If it means “hold our principals accountable for retraining or firing the ineffective teachers,” it may be the harbinger of a genuine effort to fix even our worst schools.
  • If it means more bloated plans, it sentences thousands more of Richmond’s schoolchildren to ineffective teaching on into an indefinite future.