The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.
In response to School Board Member Reid Goldstein’s column yesterday, let’s talk about schools in Arlington.
First, here are some numbers to provide some perspective. The FY 2021 adopted budget was set to spend $670.3 million. When it was passed, the School Board projected enrollment at 29,142 — an increase of 1,122. The total cost per student was projected to be $23,001.
The official count for our closed school buildings enrollment on September 30th was actually 26,895 — a decrease of 1,125. The total cost per student for this school year is actually $24,923. Few school districts in the country match the resources of Arlington Public Schools.
Instead of talking about how the school board intended to use these resources to solve the current COVID challenges, Mr. Goldstein’s spent 710 words opining on the current buzzword on the left — “equity.” In fact, he did not mention COVID once in the entire piece. It reads as if it was written in January 2020, not January 2021.
At the end, Mr. Goldstein sums it up with these words, “Equity is the path to equality of opportunity for our students.” Providing equality of opportunity for our students is certainly something Mr. Goldstein can find agreement on across party lines. So how should we go about it?
Here are a couple simple suggestions for where Mr. Goldstein and the School Board can start.
Suggestion number one: Outline a plan to get our kids back to school in person as soon as possible.
Last spring, many of our kids received virtually no instruction between March and June. Teachers were not allowed to teach new curriculum. Grades were not given for the fourth quarter, not even on a pass fail basis. Assignments and class attendance were essentially optional.
Over the summer, parents were told our children would be able to return to school to begin the academic year. Then we were told it would be later in the fall. Then we were told it would be for the second semester. Now it looks increasingly unlikely that it will happen at all. The stress of the past three academic quarters is highest on parents who do not have the luxury of working from home during this pandemic.
There is no doubt that some children from all socio-economic backgrounds are not faring as well at learning in a virtual environment, and some are regressing. Studies show the academic results are the worst for the children who Mr. Goldstein professes to be the most concerned about.
After 10 months of virtual learning, certainly APS should have figured out how to return to the classroom by now. And the scientific studies suggest it can be done safely. It should be priorities one, two, and three.
Suggestion number two: Stop making excuses.
Mr. Goldstein suggests that Arlington County policies on density may be the reason our children are not receiving the equality of opportunity they deserve. However, APS is spending nearly $25,000 to educate each child in the county this year. And Arlington taxpayers have been funding our school system at generous levels for years.
If our current Arlington School Board cannot figure out how to achieve equality of opportunity with these funding levels, maybe we need new school board members?
Mark Kelly is a long-time Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
An alleged shooting threat briefly sent students practicing on a school field indoors tonight.
Good Wednesday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
(Updated at 6:35 p.m.) Black and Hispanic students remain more likely to be suspended from Arlington Public Schools than their peers, according to new data. Specifically, Black students make up…
Whether it’s T. Swift tickets, cash money, or a prime parking spot, most DMV-area residents agree that time is actually their most valuable currency. A universal experience of car owners…
At Generation Hope, we’re dedicated to supporting teen parents in college as they work toward earning their degrees. We are in need of caring child care volunteers for upcoming events on Saturday, October 21st (in Washington, DC), and Saturday, November 4th (in Arlington, VA). Join our growing volunteer community and support us at an event this fall!
At all of our events, we provide free onsite child care for the children of the teen parents we serve, creating a nurturing environment for the kiddos while their parents learn valuable life skills and build community.
If you enjoy working with children and are looking to make an immediate impact in your community, please visit https://www.generationhope.org/volunteer to learn more.
Join us for Arlington’s biggest civil rights & social justice event of the year. The banquet is back in person at the Arlington Campus of George Mason University.
Our keynote speaker this year is Symone Sanders from MSNBC and former Chief of Staff for Vice-President Kamala Harris.
The Master of Ceremonies is Joshua Cole, former state delegate, NAACP President, and local pastor.
Tickets/seating are limited. Purchase your ticket today! Sponsorship opportunities available.
Live standup comedy starring John F. O’Donnell (Comedy Central)
Friday, October 20
Headliner: John F. O’Donnell
John was a correspondent on the radical comedy news TV show, “Redacted Tonight,” for 5 years. Recently, he released his debut one-hour standup special,