RICHMOND CITY SCHOOLS: THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO BE SILENT OR PETTY [OPEN THREAD]

Like most of you, I’m still processing the news that Superintendent Dana T. Bedden have been relieved of his duties as of June 30th. I’ve made a few call to friends that I know are close to the situation and what I heard (as most of you already know) is story after story of petty personal issues getting in the way of service to our community and children. It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that the biggest problem that Dr. Bedden faced was one of poor personal relationships and lack of mutual respect, and that goes both ways. A lot of people who I spoke with (off the record) did feel that Dr. Bedden had no respect for them (right or wrong) and that led to lack of transparency and poor communication with those he needed to work with to be successful. And in-turn, it appears that the new School Board and a lot of people in the grassroots community, have been disappointed in Dr. Bedden to the point where it may have crossed over into a personal issue, no longer about the good of the people but really personal. All of which is just sad because, this ending could have been avoided.

What has been the most disappointing in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s announcement is the silence by members of the School Board and the outright petty comments I’ve read in social media groups, most notably Support Richmond Public Schools FB Group. On the School Board, I’m a product of hip-hop culture so I understand the meaning of: Bad Boys move in silence. But this is not the time for the members of the School Board to remain silent. They made this action with virtually zero transparency ( a chief criticism of Dr. Bedden) and some even went against what the campaigned on; explanations are expected and necessary to the community and your voters.

In regards to social media groups (all of them, not just Support Richmond Public Schools), it’s not a good look for those people claiming crazy conspiracy theories and an even worst look for those calling people racist online. I’ve lost a lot of respect for some so-called community leaders in the last 48 hours because of their ridiculous and unfounded comments. That’s not where resolution and improvement will come from.  I strongly believe that race and poverty are major contributing factors (if not the factor) that have put Richmond City Schools in the position where it is now, however, a narrative of racial division is not what is going to uplift Richmond City Schools. No one wins with that type of divisive rhetoric.

So what happens now? The community is always ahead of the media, yet it’s the media that really shines the light that gets people to pay attention. If I had a dollar for all the online comments that said this came out of nowhere. I wouldn’t say this came out of nowhere as much as I would say, this could have been avoided, on both sides. Now we have to put our trust in a brand new School Board that has made their biggest decision in secret. And to date, has not made any comments. This is going to be rocky but it’s my hope that at the end of the day the children of Richmond see improvement.

That’s my take but I want to hear yours. The floor is yours for open comment and what do we, as a community, do now?  

11 Comments

  • Jessee Perry says:

    Conspiracy theories are a product of silence. Human nature is to understand what happened when something makes no sense. A week ago there was an article about Bedden staying put in the Richmond Free Press so the winds of change came like a tsunami. Now there is a termination and silence. Trying to understand the big picture so residents can form solid opinions is necessary but not having all (or any) of the facts leads into the realm of theorizing and hypothesizing.

    Even if it is a matter of HR Personnel, having board members address that would be better than silence.

    There are education compact meetings in the 3rd, 6th and 7th districts this week. For those reaching out to their SB Reps and not getting a response, they will be at those meetings. I have dates, times, locations on them all.

  • Susan says:

    Thank you for another take in this very upsetting event. Personal issues should never get in the way of what is best for our children, because at the end of the day, that is what is most important, and why we are here.

  • Eric says:

    Thank you! This is the best response to Friday’s news that I’ve seen. I couldn’t agree more. I hope that more people like you help shape the tone/discussion of this and how RPS moves forward.

  • Ashley says:

    Here comes a huge severance package, and big spending to find a successor.

    Wake up. The people in charge are aloof and ruining it for the masses. Demand better

  • I began praying when I heard on Friday the school board was meeting in closed session for the second time. I began praying that the new school board would do what is campaigned and that was share information; transparency. The “how” it was done concerns me deeply. The time is now for the community to model what we are really about! The positive individuals must not give into the foolish comments and name calling. I read those as well. That behavior does not support children and children do not need to see that come from adults. They see enough negative already. I do believe in my deepest spirit this decision was personal. Let’s pack the compact meetings and attempt to address some issues and demand transparency if not we will always remain where we are: silent.
    We can do this and we can do this well, together. I am prayerful and hopeful for the future of our students.

  • Jennifer says:

    Content aside, the grammatical issues in this article are distracting. I did not want to read further than the first paragraph because of this.

  • Thanks for reading. I’ll do better next time (I hope).

    • Mary says:

      Wow, congrats on a wonderful response to an extremely NOT constructive criticism. Your take on the situation is much appreciated.

  • Spencer Turner says:

    From all accounts this is an inside job which has been fomented by a small minority of parents and teachers aligned with a very narrow.political perspective who were upset with the way in which Dr. Bedden and the previous School Board carried out change. That said, I am a graduate of RPS, a taught in RPS and I am now a parent and was shocked by how this decision played out and the immediate full-throated racial attack coming from supporters of the removal of Dr. Bedden and the newly annointed replacement from Baltimore. In one group, a Mr. Bighshot Bullocks (this is his FB moniker) claimed that this was part of a plan of 400 local black community members to “take back oyr schools” for black families (his words). This was very concerning as I am a parent and my children are of mixed race and multinational. When i asked if that means that the growing Latino population no longer will have voice hr incorrectly claimed that the student body of RPS was 95% black. When shown the correct demographic data which was 75% black, 14% Latino and 9% white he would not accept it. This attitude that injects such a distorted and regressive racial divisiveness into a discussion which should be about social justice and all kids is very troubling. We need to insist that any discussions about the future of our schools is data based and couched in diversity includong LGBT and disabilitiea and not about narrow, divisive political opportunism. Your article is correct and this whole episode was shameful. We will not allow this group to force anyone on us. The process for choosing the next candidate must be open and transparent. Period.

  • Pastor V says:

    My prayer is that we begin to seek truth, speak truth and operate in truth. We should always be about the stability of our future; which are our youth. The systems should never implement a plan to leave our future out but to include them in the process, meaning considering every child’s need & making the correct accommodations so they can excel. ITS NOT ABOUT US, ITS ABOUT THEM. Our children are dying economically, spiritually, academically,socially,& naturally. My prayer is that we begin to unify, strategize & mobilize a system that will secure their future. God bless

  • BigShot Bullock says:

    Marc I am disappointed in you because you don’t know the half. I was there when Dr. Bedden made promises. I voted for him to be superintendent. He told the 9 of us in his interview that he would have instant success. He also said he could do it without more funding. He said we would see academic gains immediately. Which didn’t happen. He also said that the 9300 empty seats he would launch a aggressive campaign to get those seats filled. He said that he was going put a plan together for a better athletic department. Which would boast each high school with upgraded facilities. All the things he laid out in that interview he did not deliver. He sold us a bill of goods! He never mentioned that 18 million academic improvement plan. He actually said since school system was cash strap. He was going institute the academic improvement plan though staff development. So the board was correct to let him go. They don’t owe you or nobody else a explanation why let go. Because Dr. Bedden allowed staff moral, the education of our children, and the school system decline. I never saw at one school board meeting. Now got a opinion.smh

Leave a Reply