Most students try not to think about school during the summer. But a number of them took to the streets on a sweltering August day to talk up public education to people who might normally enroll their children in private or parochial schools.
Clad in T-shirts promoting “The Choice,” about 100 students, parents and administrators went door-to-door on a recent Saturday, asking Richmond homeowners to give their neighborhood schools a second look. Joining them was Virginia’s first lady Anne Holton, a product of city schools.
The $50,000 campaign by a school system still trying to rebound from a long history of racial segregation and white flight is an example of efforts under way in several cities to retain students. School districts are highlighting improvements to halt declining head counts so they can retain their funding, especially in light of drastic state budget cuts.
“People are still stuck with perceptions of yesteryear, and are not really aware of what we have to offer today,” Richmond Superintendent Yvonne Brandon said. “It’s not perfect, but be a part of the solution and become invested now.”
Like other urban school districts, Richmond, where 88 percent of students are black, 7 percent are white, and 71 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, has struggled on many fronts.