A conversation with Carletta Wilson

05/29/2008 8:06 PM by

A neighborhood parent and I sat down with Carletta Wilson, candidate to be 7th District School Board representative, for about an hour at Buzzy’s on Tuesday evening. Wilson, well-informed and ready to discuss anything that we brought up, was patient as the parent & I jabbered back and forth and scattered questions at her.

What follows is *not* a literal transcript of Wilson’s words unless actually quoted, but are the gist of what she said from my notes.

Wilson is the President of the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School PTA and has a child at the school. Employed as the Administrative Fiscal Assistant for VCU Athletics, she is also Region 1 Chair for the State Special Education Advisory Committee.

Should Bellevue be closed?
We should not close Bellevue. Keeping Bellevue open likely will not be enough, we might still need to consider resuming elementary classes in the round buildings at MLK. Given the crowding in the system in the East End, building a new school in Fulton should still be on the table.

What do you think of the megazone policy?
I am opposed to the megazone lines, there “needs to be an open policy across the board”. We need to make every school just as equal as the next.

What do you think about the Patrick Henry Charter School Initiative?
I have mixed opinion on charters. Research on the subject shows some positives, but not consistently. I am a believer in choice, though. Economics prevents choice for some people, the public system with the charter now offers more choice.

How do we find the balance? I am glad that the charter came in, now we (RPS) have to step up our game.

How important do you think it is to attract folks that have fled or avoided the public school system?
It is very important, this would be beneficial to all, and would help foster economic and racial diversity.

To do this, we need to follow whats going on in the world, structure our schools the way that the world is structured. There needs to be mandatory 2nd language classes and we need to keep up with technology.

Look at the East End elementary school. People say that these are the worst schools, but if you look at George Mason or Chimborazo, these are not bad schools.

What specific actions should be taken to move RPS forward?
We should look at the needs of each school and look at programs that are already working at individual schools. For example, there is a mentoring program at several of the elementary schools that is effective, we need to have this at more schools. Can we get what is working in all of the schools?

We need to more strongly utilize instructional specialists. The principals need the authority to fire/hire.

We need to offer more support to the teachers in the classroom. We need to hire more experienced teachers, this will also help to build confidence in the community.

Lets raise expectations over all. Raise the bar the for the new superintendent. The top needs to push excellence.

The meat of the job is becoming more proactive in how we do things. We need schools, we need to renovate, we need ADA compliance.

We can look at short term ways to make things better, long-term we need to have a unified vision of what we are working towards. We can’t continue to jump from initiative to initiative.

IB can start at the elementary level, as a whole school or sections in schools;

This may be hard, but is not as complex as it sounds. “We have a lot of good people in the system”.

Which of the current board members do you most admire?
Wolf for outspokenness, West the same (whether you agree with him or not, he was willing to state his piece).



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