/Mamie-Taylor.jpg” alt=”" width=”180″ height=”137″ />For a while there, it wasn’t clear whether there would be a challenger for the 5th district School Board seat. But, Mamie Taylor has earned the endorsement of the Richmond City Democratic Committee, and her signs have started popping up around the neighborhoods. And now, we have our interview with the challenger. Read and respond, and most importantly, vote.
1) Why do we need a new School Board representative in the 5th district?
A new School Board Representative in fifth district is needed because our current school system is failing our children and we need a representative who is willing to take a hands-on approach to help turn things around. Richmond Public Schools has some of the lowest test scores in the state and our current representative says that there is no need for concern and that we are moving in the right direction. We need a representative who is going to support Charter Schools, and not work behind closed doors to take away viable options. We need a representative who is going to address the lack of overall parental involvement in our schools and the social issues that many of our students are confronted with and that therefore contribute to a high dropout and low graduation rates. With 83.1 percent of the budget going to salaries and health care, we need a representative who is willing to cut from the top, and not the areas that directly impact our students; like teachers, plant services and transportation. We need a strong leader who is committed to putting the needs of our children first, and I am confident that person is me. I have children who have graduated from and currently attend Richmond Public Schools and I sincerely believe in public education in this city. I am also a former educator, and I know that it is imperative that we include parents, students and overall citizenry, as well as the business community, in the decision making process.
2) What is your most significant qualification for the job?
What qualifies me most for the job is that I am first and foremost a mother. I have three children, all products of Richmond Public Schools, and I understand that education starts at home and it is also developed in our schools and our communities. I am also a former educator with Richmond Public Schools with over 7 years of experience as a teacher and volunteer. Because the playing field for our young people is not leveled, I am equipped to ensure that all those with a vested interest in our children’s education are brought to the table to make educational decisions that will develop better social skills for our students, enhance their ability to think critically and provide the resources they need to obtain educational success.
3) Should Cary Elementary remain open? Why or why not?
Yes John B. Cary should remain open. Overall school performance, the physical condition of the building and enrollment are all factors in making such a decision. In addition, how an empty building left to deteriorate in a thriving community is a factor as well. With the committee’s recommendation to place all students from the Maymont neighborhood in Fox, it’s not feasible at this time to consider closing John B Cary because the number of students that would be considered for other schools are unknown.
4) The Byrd Park neighborhood is currently split between two schools. The rezoning task force recommending zoning the whole neighborhood for Fox, but the School Board did not vote on the proposal. How would you address this issue?
In order to address this issue, and understanding the significance of strong neighborhood schools, I will need to know how many students will be attending fox elementary. The necessity for smaller classrooms that will be conducive to learning, teaching, and discipline is also imperative. Knowing this to be a reality, we must evaluate, analyze and consider another school or another facility, and if the population will have a negative impact on student achievement.
5) Clark Springs Elementary has a very low enrollment rate from its eligible households and yet, it’s over-crowded. Can you explain it, and how would you change it?
First, Clarke Springs had an influx of students as a result of the closure of Thirteen Acres and its’ placement of those students into the Clarke Springs facility. Clarke Springs being overcrowded also presents an indicator that there must be an unaccountable number of students being bused from other areas. First we must review why and where students are being transported from other areas of the city. This indicates that the downsizing of transportation is a problem for RPS. And lastly, we need to look into where the eligible households are located as it relates to the proximity of Clarke Springs versus other schools.
6) What can be done to keep parents from relocating to the counties in pursuit of more appealing school options?
Making all of our schools a viable option for each and every family is the best option for retaining parents. We need smaller class sizes, more parental involvement, more viable middle school options and to do more of what we’re doing well; giving parents what they expect academically. We also need to expound on that with more enrollment slots in the IB and alternative programs. Until we make sure that all of our children are receiving a quality education, the possibility of parents seeking greener pastures will continue to exist.
If you didn’t get your question submitted in time to be included in the interview, post it in the comments section and we’ll see how Ms. Taylor handles late homework assignments.