. . . . Now, more so than any time in the last six years, the attention of the School Board and much of the city has turned to Binford and its future. I’m glad for the attention, but I fear that the focus is misdirected. After participating at the informational meeting on Monday, November 24th, and reviewing the four proposals presented by the School Board, I find none of the proposals compelling. They are under-defined and feel desperate. . . . .
. . . . Because the elementary school zones were re-drawn last year, it would make sense to re-draw the middle school zones so that community ties nurtured during elementary school years can be translated to middle school. Families whose children know each other are more inclined to send their kids to middle school together. Redrawn middle school zones must preserve community ties and racial diversity so that our city isn’t further divided. . . . .
. . . . . We need to see our schools as opportunities for fostering more socially-integrated networks for our children and for us. Part of the responsibility for these networks lies with our schools and the School Board. Part of the responsibility lies with the community itself. The problem at Binford isn’t just the School Board’s. The problem is ours. . . .
. . . . The school and the School Board ought to invest in strengthening partnerships with the community and families who reside there. What are frequently listed as problems can just as easily be seen as strengths. Binford has the smallest enrollment of the RPS middle schools. That means a more intimate learning environment, greater individual attention, smaller class sizes, and a better student-teacher ratio. . . .
. . . . Families like mine need to be invited to invest in our community through commitment to its public schools. Joining together around our public schools is one avenue for cooperation, but it requires a posture of humility, listening, and mutual respect. I want my children to be prepared for a globalized world not merely through a curriculum that touts global awareness, but through a school community that reflects the varied diversity that makes our city great. . . . .
. . . . . This is not a simple problem. There is not a simple solution. It requires strong and committed leadership. I urge the Richmond School Board to act decisively and quickly. Those of us in the Binford school zone with rising sixth graders are weighing options for our children right now. It’s impossible for us to consider hypotheticals that are fuzzy on specifics. Many of us are deeply invested in our neighborhood and are committed to RPS. . . .