Antione Green is working to open a second charter school in Richmond, Virginia. The school, called Richmond Urban Collective, would serve at-risk boys in grades six through eight.
Although he is
facing steep opposition from the school board in the city, Green has mobilized
parents around Richmond who are supportive of his fight to bring more quality
education options to an area that desperately needs them.
That fight may not be easy, however. Jason Kamras, the superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, said he’s “100% committed to ensuring that [Richmond Public Schools] remains a traditional public school system.”
I interviewed Green, president of the Richmond Urban Collective, to learn more about his efforts to increase the charter school supply in Virginia.
Lindsey Burke: Tell me about the education options currently available to elementary, middle, and secondary students in Richmond. Do charter school options exist?
Antione Green: Our city school system currently has
what is called an “open-enrollment process,” where families can enroll in
out-of-zone schools, based on seat availability at the desired schools.
On the high school level, we have an academically selective process for students to apply for our magnet schools and governor schools.
Yes, we have one
independently created charter school, Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts,
and a district-incubated charter to serve students with special needs.
In addition, our
school system contracts with a private company to operate an alternative school
for select students.
Burke: Is there a need for additional
education options in Richmond? What are outcomes like for students assigned to
traditional district schools in the city?
Green: We currently have no middle school
performing proficiently or meeting state accreditation standards.
In addition, we
have the lowest-performing high schools in the state, as well as the lowest
graduation rates. As a result, many
parents have chosen to disenroll their children and seek schooling elsewhere.
negatively impacts our tax base and our ability to preserve a middle class here
in our city. Our goal is to create high-quality options for parents and help
keep families here in the city.
Burke: As you’ve begun your journey to
open a school of your own in Richmond, I’m sure you’ve had the chance to speak
with many parents about what they’re looking for in a school.
What do you hear most often from families? What is most important to them when they engage in the school selection process?
Green: Yes, we have met many parents on our
campaign to win school support. Many are looking for a school that can ensure
their children, post-high school, are equipped with real-world skills.
important to many of them is that their children have an opportunity to attend
a school that matches their learning style with a customized instructional
approach and can prepare them to be lifelong critical thinkers.
Burke: What is unique about the model
of the Richmond Urban Collective?
Green: What’s unique about our model is,
first, we will be the first single-gender public school in Virginia.
Secondly, we will
operate on a year-round school calendar, as well as extended school days.
Thirdly, we will
also employ a unique instructional approach using digital resources to enhance
the academic experience.
the importance of highly effective teachers to student performance, our teachers
will have access to high-quality one-on-one coaches for the purpose of
enhancing the delivery of high-quality instruction to our students.
Burke: One day, when the school is
operational, what do you hope prospective students leave equipped with?
Green: To ultimately contribute to reversing
the dismal performance and statistics long associated with our city high
school, I want our former students to be able to contribute to the future of
our country as economically free thinkers. Period.