City Schools and Cries of Racism

Recent concerns about the Charlottesville School Board and new superintendent Scottie Griffin have taken on an oddly racist tone in the last couple of months. Parents and teachers testify that schools are suffering under the current board and the new superintendent, and an interesting trio has sprung up to defend the black, female superintendent: Reverend Alvin Edwards, Dean Rick Turner, and Councilor Kendra Hamilton, all of whom are high-profile black members of the community. Said Turner, at a September school board meeting, “People say they can’t accept her style, but they can’t accept the color of her skin.” At that meeting, community activist Joy pointedly remarked on the correlation between who applauded for speakers and the color of the speaker’s skin. Then, at last night’s meeting, only black parents and community leaders spoke in favor of Griffin, while only whites spoke in favor of change at Monday’s City Council meeting, WINA reports. Is this a problem of racism disguised as a practical problem, or is this a practical problem that some are trying to disguise as a racial problem?

WINA, Progress RSS Newsfeeds

I’ve gotten tired of loading WINA and the Daily Progress’ website repeatedly each day, so I’ve hacked together a screen-scraper to extract the news from each site to make it available as an RSS newsfeed. The website management tool used by the Daily Progress hasn’t been updated since ninteen-freaking-ninety-seven, complete with security holes, while WINA just hasn’t added a feed, so I thought I’d write something. Point your newsreader of choice at or On my end, the headlines are cached for an hour, so that I don’t place any undue stress on WINA or the Daily Progress’ servers, and I’d appreciate it if y’all didn’t set your newsreaders to query these feeds more than a few times each day. Note that the Progress feed is complete — headlines and descriptions, whereas WINA’s is headlines-only for the time being on stories where abstracts aren’t provided. Bug reports appreciated. Update: I’m avoiding schoolwork, so I made a Cavailer Daily feed, too.

City Schools: A Bad Scene, Some Say

Parents and former members of the Charlottesville School Board went before City Council on Monday night to complain about low morale among teachers, the over-testing of students, and bureaucracy replacing responsive leadership in the city schools. Former School Board Chairwoman Mary Susan Payne, Curry professor Walt Heinecke and former Burnley-Moran PTO presidents Karl and Jenny Ackerman were among those who testified that schools have come to spend all of their time on preparing students for standardized testing — the Standards of Learning and No Child Left Behind and changed their focus to the hiring of administrators, rather than teachers. Jenny Ackerman read a letter from an anonymous teacher, in which the teacher wrote that morale is at an all-time low, and that they are “being instructed to teach to the test, and that is not something I am willing to do.” Mayor David Brown spoke in support of the School Board, leaving Ackerman with the impression that he is unwilling to address the concerns of the community. John Yellig had the story in yesterday’s Daily Progress.

Follow-Up: CHS Attackers’ Ringleader

In an impressive follow-up in this week’s Hook, Lisa Provence follows up on the early 2002 kerfuffle over the black Charlottesville High School students that repeatedly assaulted white and Asian college students, apparently for fun. There were televised community meetings, meetings of the black community, accusations of press sensationalism, attempts to keep the attackers from being expelled, guilty pleas, and finally convictions. Lost in the shuffle of the whole thing were the victims — instead, the outpouring of support was directed to the attackers, with Rev. Alvin Edwards heading up a community effort to raise money for their defense. Once the white supremacists got involved and Rev. Edwards got started with his own outrageous racial comments, it really got messy. After the story ended up in the national spotlight, Lisa Provence wrote a story about the obvious racial tensions, and how they’d divided the community. As things were left, though, these were said to be good kids who did something stupid (four times). As Lisa Provence makes clear in her follow-up, about convicted attacker Vernon Howard, that clearly wasn’t true for all of them — he’s got quite a criminal record just two years later. As Howard told The Hook, in response to accusations that he got off too lightly: “Tell ’em to deal. Tell ’em to kiss my ass.” The Hook, of course, has the story.

Goode and Weed Debate

For the first time, Rep. Virgil Goode (R) debated in Charlottesville with Nelson County farmer Al Weed, who is challenging Goode for the 5th District seat. A standing-room-only crowd of 200 people, about 2/3 Weed supporters, watched the two of them go at it at the Senior Statesmen of Virginia debate, which featured Weed criticizing Goode’s legal practice as virtually non-existent and Goode criticizing Weed’s wine as sub-par. There were, of course, some substantive issues discussed, too, with the pair agreeing only on the need to permit the importation of drugs from Canada. There are six more debates scheduled throughout the district between now and November 2nd. Bob Gibson has the story in today’s Progress.