Carver Elementary’s success became ‘a target on its back’

8/9/2018, 6 a.m.

I left the Richmond Public Schools’ community meeting last week about the Carver Elementary School scandal conflicted about the entire situation. It was hard for me, as it was for many parents, to believe what we were hearing.

For years, Carver Elementary has been the jewel of RPS — and rightfully so. It had resources from the community, Virginia Commonwealth University, corporations and the city, far beyond those of many other schools. Its students performed well within the confines of the school and in activities around the city and the region.

But with its success came a target on its back. And there were those who believed that kids who mostly came out of the Gilpin Court public housing community could not do so well. That is why it is not surprising that this new superintendent, Jason Kamras, would be fed complaints about Carver.

The discoveries in the state Department of Education report are compelling. They show a disparity between the percentage of students passing tests while attending Carver and their results as they moved within the public school system, whether on to middle school or to other elementary schools.

The investigators looked at the hard numbers and interviewed Carver students and teachers — many of whom appeared disgruntled — and concluded that the administrator and other individuals conspired to fix Standards of Learning test scores. Mr. Kamras has announced that the alleged conspirators, including the former Carver principal, are in the process of being banned from working in the city school system. Many of them had stellar careers.

I predict there will be one or more lawsuits against RPS, and some who sue could prevail. Here is why:

Sometimes the numbers don’t tell the full story. There are dynamics that exist that can explain how children could excel at one school and fail miserably at another.

Also, with the best of situations, it is difficult to get the truth from a 9-year-old. I try often and fail.

I also know that within any workplace, there will be some who feel left out and discriminated against.

Be that as it may, the die has been cast. The chips will fall. Yet, the children must continue to stand tall and the reputation of Carver must remain strong.

The school should not be measured by accusations of mishandling of state Standards of Learning tests. Carver Elementary is greater than the SOLs, and students must remain proud to go to the “peanut” school.