Ricardy's Platform: "One Fairfax" Is About Removing Gaps in Opportunity

Anyone who follows basic education in the United States knows that there is an achievement gap that correlates with either socio-economic status or race. What someone may miss is the fact that there are likewise opportunity gaps. We can talk however long we want about how poverty negatively influences education but if we neglect to see that children of privilege are often receiving more opportunities, there is really no hope in reducing the achievement gap. It is really simple. One of the major reasons why there is an achievement gap is that there is likewise a gap in opportunities. On November of 2017, the school board in Fairfax County adopted a resolution called "One Fairfax" which includes "Education that promotes a responsive, caring, and inclusive culture where all feel valued, supported, and hopeful, and that every child is reached, challenged, and prepared for success in school and life." It is a good resolution, but we cannot deny the fact that Fairfax county still has a long way to go to establish equity in its public schools.

One specific case is the county's advanced academics program. This program is a glaring example of inequity in education as outlined in a previous post on this blog. It is a very clear example of gaps in opportunity when the affluent or children from either white or Asian families are over-represented in advanced academics. Addressing this inequity is not an easy task. The situation in Fairfax county is quite similar to that of Bellevue district, a wealthy suburb of Seattle in Washington State. Median incomes are comparable, but both districts have households that are considered poor, and both districts are witnessing a change in demographics.

Arianna Prothero of Education Week recently wrote an article about Shomari Jones who is currently the director of equity and graduation success in Bellevue. Jones has been recently recognized as among the 2019 school leaders to learn from.

Above copied from Education Week

The title of the article, "Waging a Fight for Equity Amid Affluence" in my opinion, actually brings it close to home. The challenges we currently face in Fairfax county are similar to those of Bellevue. What this means is that we could really learn from Shomari Jones. And the article points out to these lessons from Jones:

Above copied from Education Week

Mason District of Fairfax county is about to select a member of the school board. One of the candidates is Ricardy Anderson, which I strongly endorse. Looking at her platform (shown below), one can see that Ricardy is consistent with Jones' lessons.

Ricardy’s Platform for Fairfax Schools


Ricardy J. Anderson, Ed.D.

To ensure that Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) offers opportunities for and equitably serves all students, I will initially focus on the following priorities:

· Strategic Implementation of One Fairfax: I want to make One Fairfax a reality for Mason Kids by equitably equipping our teachers and staff with needed resources to facilitate the delivery of personalized and individualized instruction to students in 21st century facilities. We must stop the practice of asking our PTAs/PTOs to provide funding for essential resources and services to schools. We must establish the expectations that research based and effective strategies will be provided at all schools across the county.

· Protect Needs-Based Staffing: We must ensure Title I and other needs-based funding are aligned with Mason District needs.

· Teacher and Staff Compensation: Teacher quality significantly impacts student achievement. We must invest in our teachers and in our facilities to provide the students of Mason District with quality learning experiences. We must ensure adequate staffing to prevent irresponsible student ratios, especially in high-needs areas.

· Professional Development and Support for Teachers: To retain the best and most talented staff in FCPS, we should employ proven methods to support teacher development and growth, such as a Peer Assistance Review Program.

· Middle School Start Times: The Fairfax County School Board successfully adjusted high school start times to better align with educational and sleep research recommendations. To achieve this goal, our middle school students and teachers were impacted with even earlier start times. I am committed to working with parents, administrators, and transportation professionals to ensure that FCPS adheres to the school start time recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the Centers for Disease Control.

· Best Practices/Minimum Standards County-wide: When schools are consistent in their practices teachers, students, and parents benefit. Research-based approaches such as Professional Learning Communities impact teacher expertise and improve student progress. County-wide expectations in the areas of communication, security, and programming would significantly reduce inequity among our schools.

By supporting efforts that strengthen our schools, our community will grow stronger!