“Every Learner. Every day. Everyone.” These words embody our mission – that at Charlottesville City Schools, we want to support all of our learners.
How are we doing on that? By some measures, we’re doing great. Our graduation rate rose to 92.6%, and for black students, that rate has risen 25 points since 2006. Data shows that as students move through our schools, they show strong growth. As we’ve emphasized social-emotional learning and added supports for positive behaviors, our suspensions have dropped significantly.
However, by other measures, we still have work to do. On Virginia’s “standards of learning” tests, our African-American students are often not meeting the state’s standards. While we and others see these tests as faulty, even so, this is a sign that needs attention. Similarly, we want to diversify the students who enroll in advanced and AP classes, who participate in our gifted programs, and who attain the state’s advanced diploma.
We take these matters seriously. To familiarize yourself with our approaches to promoting equity, please visit charlottesvilleschools.org/equity. We create opportunities and supports throughout our schools, and we work with local and national partners to study and address underlying issues.
Relatedly, you might have followed community discussions about our schools’ dress codes and whether they ban hate symbols that were displayed during the violence in August 2017. Presently, there is no explicit ban in the Albemarle or Charlottesville code, but our School Board stated that symbols of hate are not appropriate in our schools. We and Albemarle County Public Schools have agreed to work together to explore not only the issue of hate symbols, but also the larger question of how we can better serve all of our students.
To further explore these topics, we invite you to a community forum on Tuesday, October 23, at 7 p.m. We help our children learn and grow. Our community and schools will learn and grow, too.
Dr. Rosa S. Atkins