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?