Tuesday, April 29, 2014

All of Open’s Alums Should Be Proud

In the ‘50s and ‘60s Massive Resistance and White Flight made the people building the ticky-tacky housing developments, shopping centers and roads into zillionaires. And, as we all know, politicians tend to follow where the money goes and what its holders dictate.

Then, in the ’70s, busing -- however well-intentioned -- exacerbated the exodus trend that was shriveling Richmond’s tax base. Somewhere along the line the people in power in Richmond obviously gave up on public education in the city. They developed a coping policy. After all, they were sending their kids to private schools, so what did it matter?

So what began as bigoted white parents wanting to avoid sending their children to school with black children changed over the years. It morphed into all sorts of parents wanting to avoid a demoralized public school system with diminishing resources and facilities that were falling apart. The suburbanites in the surrounding counties steadily saw the city, itself, as a lost cause and that attitude proved to be contagious.

Still, over the last four decades in Richmond, we’ve had plucky Open High as an elite public school option. For the most part it served smart kids with smart parents who hadn't given up on public education. That’s why it’s so noteworthy that the student march to City Hall to protest the deplorable conditions in some other public schools is a movement that apparently started at Open.

All of Open’s alums should be proud of what their present day counterparts have set in motion. Seeing these kids today standing up for all of Richmond's students is a sign of hope. The seeds for the march on Apr. 28, 2014 were planted in the early '70s. 

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