By Phil Cefaratti, Independent city council candidate (File photo)
To the editor:
SchoolDigger.com ranks Alexandria City Public Schools 94th out of 123 school jurisdictions in Virginia. That ranking already incorporates the new Standards of Learning scores that currently are advertised by ACPS as “#GreatResults” in signs that have been placed near schools and businesses all over our city. I understand tooting one’s own horn, but I certainly hope we don’t hang signs at each entrance to the city touting, “We’re 94th!”
Alexandria’s median household income is in the top 50 for all county and city jurisdictions in the country. The D.C. metropolitan area is well within the top 10 for most well educated. Yet, with these resources at our disposal, we have been unable — for decades — to make the quantum leap necessary to provide our children with an education other jurisdictions would envy.
Many of my clients (and trust me, other real estate agents encounter this too) routinely ask me to help them move out of our city and into Fairfax County, Falls Church or Arlington County because of the low quality of the schools in Alexandria. I have never had any client ask to move to Alexandria because of the quality of the schools.
Schools Superintendent Alvin Crawley and school board chairwoman Karen Graf are working to make changes. But they can’t do it all by themselves. As a city councilor, I will work with them tirelessly to dramatically improve the education our children receive.
Crawley and Graf are to be commended for their work to date. But until we acknowledge our deficiencies and make fundamental changes, simply putting up those aforementioned signs effectively says we’re living in Fantasyland.
As the Independent candidate for city council, I say the time for change is now. We must invest across the board, to include: increasing teachers’ salaries, moderate building renovations (unlike the complete rebuild of Jefferson-Houston School) and, just as importantly, build up joint programs with the department of parks, recreation and cultural activities with no cost to participate in our city’s sports and after-school programs, to ensure at-risk children receive guidance and mentoring that go beyond school walls.
I am running as the Independent candidate for city council. I have received great support from residents, including Independents, Democrats and Republicans. Residents have told me about their frustrations with politics as usual regarding schools in our great city. If this letter rings true to you, I need your support, too.