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Richmond 7th District School Board race

Ronald E. Carrington | 10/25/2018, 6 a.m.
For Broderick, the key is organizing priorities for limited resources; Burke attributes success on board to experience, engaging the community; ...

He would like to see elected officials who represent the city on the local and state levels to champion raising Virginia’s corporate tax rate for more money for public education. He said the corporate tax rate hasn’t been raised in 40 years and is one of the lowest in the country.

Mr. Broderick, who has not accepted any corporate contributions, believes one person, one vote is important for true democracy.

His advocacy journey started in Philadelphia, when the school system proposed to close 37 schools. He was part of a group of 19 that participated in civil disobedience in favor of keeping the schools open.

From there, he moved to Durham, N.C., where he worked as a learning assistant in an elementary school for a year and volunteered as an advocate with the Durham Association of Educators.

Running for the Richmond School Board, Mr. Broderick has focused on things that he said must be done to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline that he said has disproportionately impacted students at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and Armstrong High School in the 7th District.

“At the core, we need more adults in the (school) buildings, particularly reading specialists, social workers and guidance counselors,” he said.

“Because there are not enough adults in the building, the RPS and building staff are relying on the Richmond Police Department to do the work that should be done by regular staff,” he said. “The RPD is used to enforce school policy — and that is an inappropriate role.”

Although Mr. Broderick has not visited any of the district schools, he said ongoing community discussions and negotiations should take place with the city police to discuss the appropriate role of school resource officers.

“It also causes a conflict when children needing one-on-one attention are not getting it, which leads to acting out and the problem escalating,” he said.

He also believes restorative justice programs are part of the solution.

“When I think about restorative justice programs, I mean funds and dedicated staff but not a process where we give overworked teachers more on their plates that they have to do.”

Mr. Broderick also expressed concern about Superintendent Jason Kamras’ leadership and decision-making.

“I think there has been too much unilateral decision-making,” he said, referring to work hours for teachers and what time the school day should start for high schools. “What we saw was two different policy changes, both attempted unilaterally, yet formally requiring School Board approval.

“Those are decisions would have benefited from a structured dialogue starting three months earlier, as well as getting parents and teachers to chime in on what is best,” he said.

He said he is concerned that the School Board will be relegated to a “adviser role” if budget figures aren’t attached to items on the strategic plan.

“The real question to a strategy is not listing what you want for Christmas, but how do we organize the priorities with the resources we have,” he said.

“I am somebody who is prepared to do the work, offer leadership, fight and implement real community-generated solutions,” he said. But, he added, “we will consistently need people to show up at School Board meetings, City Council meetings and state legislative meetings.