Call to Action: Mason Elementary

Mason Action

“[The Richmond Public Schools are] a perfect school system because it was designed to give children of color an inferior education and put them in inferior buildings and teach them as little as possible, and that’s exactly what we do everyday.”  - Art Burton

Jackie Kruszewski from Style recorded this quote from Mr. Burton that – in my view - perfectly articulated the situation at Mason Elementary. This is an intentional situation that will only be overcome with intentional action.

Please contact the School Board today (RF homepage one-click or call) or show up to their 5pm meeting tonight (August 7th) at City Hall. Actions they will consider will be (1) board drafted options, (2) short term $105K band-aid as described by Superintendent Kranz at last Monday’s meeting, or (3) do nothing.

Mason Night

Last Monday (July 31st), was a beautiful turnout of the Mason community and Richmonders supporting action. Many thanks to Peter Paul Development Center, Church Hill Activities & Tutoring, Area 10 Faith Community, Support Our Schools, Fox Elementary PTA, Micah Initiative, STAY RVA, Principal Furgeson and staff of Mason Elementary. Four-hundred pieces of pizza, along with water bottles and snacks provided with free transportation to and from the meeting. Mason teachers facilitated a pre-meeting discussion to help prepare for public comment.

Room fills as the meeting begins (Self-taken, July 31, 2017)

Room fills as the meeting begins (Self-taken, July 31, 2017)

When I asked the room who was attending their first School Board meeting, over half raised their hands. This was a great first step for raising awareness of civic action and building a city-wide coalition.  

The Richmond media was in full force with coverage by the RTD, Style, NBC, ABC, and CBS. While we wait for RPS to post video, Chris Lombardi’s Facebook livestream captured the two hour meeting. The most heart breaking and inspiring testimony came from Mason teachers and parents on their daily struggles and hopes.

The meeting awkwardly ended with School Board Chair Dawn Paige abruptly adjourning after Jonathan Young made a motion to begin discussion on option #3 (move Mason to Franklin Military and Franklin Military to Community High). She stated that this was a community meeting to gain input and that actions would be discussed at the regularly scheduled August 7th meeting.

Two points of correction. One, this was a legally advertised public meeting where action from the School Board was possible. Two, in following Robert’s Rules for adjourning a meeting, the chair cannot solely make a declaration to stop the meeting if new business has just been presented. There would need to be a motion and majority vote to end the meeting.  

As I articulated in the last post, doing nothing is a choice to continue the status quo of a broken commitment to our children as realized through failing school facilities. The testimony received last Monday will be for nothing, unless action is taken by the School Board to being progress towards a better future.

With the start of school upon us, band-aids and supporting the future promise of a new school maybe the only action available. But, at least this is a start.

Please contact the School Board today (RF homepage one-click or call) or show up to their 5pm meeting tonight (August 7th) at City Hall. Our government will only be as accountable as we make it.