Fall Updates

The URGOV student team has returned this semester with some updates on upcoming elections, City Council and School Board overviews, and other news on local politics.

Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Virginia Department of Education has released new guidelines for schools pertaining to the treatment of transgender students. These new guidelines, according to Governor Youngkin, are meant to protect parent rights and keep them informed of their students’ gender identity. However, with the rollback of former Governor Northam’s policies allowing students to choose their own gender identity without question in schools, these new policies are facing criticism from those who advocate for transgender student rights. Critics say that these new policies can be harmful to students since educators have the ability to refer to students in a manner that does not conflict with their own beliefs. Furthermore, educators may be forced to out students to their parents before they are ready if they decide to express a different gender identity at school.

These policies are outlined here.

City Picks RVA Diamond Partners LLC to develop Diamond District

The Richmond City Council has chosen RVA Diamond Partners LLC from a pool of 15 nation-wide developers. The Evaluation Panel which was tasked with evaluating the RFI submissions based on the evaluation criteria is comprised of 10 members, including City Council members, city administrative staff, and VCU administrative staff. The Diamond district is in Greater Scott’s Addition and this development is a part of the city’s Richmond300 plan which is a “guide for growth [to create] a more equitable, sustainable, and beautiful future for all Richmonders; so that when Richmond celebrates its 300th birthday in 2037, Richmonders can collectively see how equity- and sustainability-centered actions resulted in a beautiful city where all Richmonders thrive.”

To learn more about this project see these links:

https://richmond.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/richmond-chooses-rva-diamond-partners-for-diamond-redevelopment-project/article_fd9ab641-7dba-5538-b62d-e7fbec06bf38.html

https://www.rva.gov/economic-development/diamond

School Board

The school board has been discussing the results of the Standards of Learning (SOL) that were recently released. Along with teacher feedback, the board discussed the poor results and has recommended for a new curriculum to be developed. The SOL for Virginia Public Schools describe the commonwealth’s expectations for student learning and achievement in grades K-12. Four core areas of English, Mathematics, Science, and History/Social Science are tested. These standards represent a broad consensus of what parents, classroom teachers, school administrators, academics, business and community leaders believe schools should teach, and students should learn. With challenges from the pandemic still being worked through, the board has recommended a change of curriculum but others are not convinced that the curriculum is at fault. The board has also recently responded to the new guidelines issued by the department of education regarding the treatment of transgender students in schools. These policies were rejected with the justification that they reverse protections for transgender students. Additionally, the board is facing criticism after RPS advocacy group Kids First submitted a Freedom of Information Act request and found the Virginia Department of Education Office of School Quality (OSQ) addressing the Richmond School Board’s governance. In correspondence between this office and school board leadership, the methods of conducting business during meetings is called into question as well as recent events where school board members have voted against recommendations from the Superintendent in a consistent majority. In response, the board chair Dr. Shonda Harris-Muhammed has said that the rules that allow anyone to call a motion at any time during a meeting will not change due to the Office of School Quality’s correspondence.

Read more about the school board here.

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