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On June 26, 2006, the Governor's wife took to the Op/Ed page of the Times-Dispatch to criticize Jim Nolan of the T-D for reporting about the relationship between Richmond's poverty, sickness, and poor education and the (very high) crime rate,  and me for saying that cops with kids would be reluctant to live in Richmond because of the public schools.

Ms. Holton told how she is "delighted" by the education her three children are receiving from the public schools in Richmond and she invited her readers to check out the "many great opportunities in the city and throughout the region," presumably including those schools.

Doubtless most residents of Ginter Park who are a former judge and are married to the Governor (who is a former Mayor of Richmond) will find "great opportunities" in the schools in Richmond.  Ms. Holton, for example, has one child in and another about to enter the Maggie Walker Governor's school.  The opportunities there are particularly "great" because that school is operated by a regional school board, not by the Richmond Public Schools.  Perhaps that is why Ms. Holton discusses schools "in Richmond" and not the "Richmond Public Schools."

Parents with less exalted connections will find the opportunities in Richmond schools less "great":

In terms of the English test, Richmond is in an eight-way tie (with Bath, Covington, Winchester, Norton, Fredericksburg, Danville, & Grayson) for 27th from the bottom (worse than 80% of the divisions).  On the Math test, Richmond is in a seven-way tie (with Greensville, Alexandria, Westmoreland, Wythe, Nottoway, and Suffolk) for 23d from the bottom (worse than 84% of the divisions).

  • Richmond's SOL scores would be far worse except that Richmond is getting rid of almost half of the kids who enter high school:

In 2004, Richmond's best high school, Community, was 52 points above the state average score of 1017; Open High was 56 points below; the other high schools ranged from 180 to 276 points below the state average.

To provide some context, Longwood (as of 2003) required a 950 minimum SAT score for admission of a student with an "A" average; for a "C" student, the minimum score is 1010.  The Richmond SAT average for 2004 was 115 points below the Longwood requirement for admitting an "A" student and 175 points below the minimum for a "C" student.

In her former position, Ms. Holton was obliged to review the evidence before making her judgments.  I suggest that she return to that practice and consider the way Richmond affects ordinary citizens before she promulgates any further judgments about the "great opportunities" in Richmond schools.


Note added on 6/10/14: Jack Berry, of Venture Richmond, quoted in the T-D this morning:

Asked about revitalizing downtown while people routinely move out of the city as their children age into the school system, Berry said that downtown will have to focus on those too young or too old to be concerned about the school system, at least for now.

“Folks are going to move to where the great schools are,” Berry said. “They’re not downtown.”


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Last updated 06/10/14
Please send questions or comments to John Butcher