Levar Stoney’s campaign for Richmond mayor released his education platform on Wednesday, outlining challenges facing Richmond Public Schools and the solutions he would pursue if elected.
“The mayor of Richmond does not have executive control over the school district, but [Stoney] believes that the mayor can change the trajectory of our schools and the students within them by working to improve the overall quality of the child’s life,” the former secretary of the commonwealth’s platform says.
The six-page document outlines five challenges contributing to the school system’s struggles: discord among the mayor's administration, City Council and the School Board, a large percentage of students RPS serves who are living in poverty, the school system's difficulty retaining principals and teachers, outdated facilities and funding operations.
To address those challenges, Stoney lays out 10 solutions. Those include advocating for the Virginia General Assembly to change its funding formula for local school systems, expanding in-school support services as well as after-school programs, and increasing participation in career and technical education courses, as well as the percentage of RPS students who attain advanced diplomas.
Matt Corridoni, the campaign’s spokesman, says the platform has been a work in progress since Stoney announced his campaign in the spring. It was developed with input from students, parents, teachers, principals, academics and others, Corridoni says.
“If you’re really serious about being the next mayor of Richmond, then you need to have a comprehensive plan to address the concerns that people have, and this is the main concern,” Corridoni says.
Thad Williamson, a University of Richmond professor and former director of the city’s Office of Community Wealth Building, advised Stoney’s campaign as it drafted the platform. Williamson says the document is “a good start” at moving the conversation about city schools from generally agreed upon problems toward identifying specific solutions.
“What’s interesting about this is, at least to my knowledge, it's the first detailed stab at what role the mayor can play in improving public education, given that the mayor doesn’t control the schools in the city system,” Williamson says.