What would MLK say?

by James C. Sherlock

It’s Black History Month. Even in Richmond.

As a contribution, I am going to review the facts on the ground in Richmond — in its most crime-ridden neighborhoods and its worst public schools.

Which are overwhelmingly Black. And co-located.

In a city with a Black mayor and a Black school board. And a Black Commonwealth’s Attorney, Colette Wallace McEachin, who, since 2019,

has helped to make Richmond a safe, just and equitable city for all, including victims, witnesses and offenders.

Her office offers many alternatives to incarceration for most non-violent offenders.

She really wrote that. And she has “worked toward dismantling “the school to prison pipeline.” Excellent news.

But, in the real world, Richmond schools and many neighborhoods are beyond tragic.

That doesn’t mean order cannot be restored. Or that poor Black children from dangerous neighborhoods can’t learn.

NYC charter schools have proven for years that Black kids from the very same type of disadvantaged, dangerous neighborhoods that some of the Richmond kids call home can succeed at the highest level.

It just means the Richmond kids from tough neighborhoods don’t learn.

We are going to look at what are measured as the 10 most crime-ridden neighborhoods in Richmond, where the kids from these neighborhoods go to school, and the performance of those schools.

And see what we see.

It is a nightmare.

To get our list of the most dangerous neighborhoods, I have used a 2022 list from a website called upgradedhome.com.  It is a useful read.

Those neighborhoods must not be in Ms. McEachin’s part of Richmond.

About Hillside Court, with only 700 residents, the website writes:

Sometimes called “Killside Court” by the local teens, Hillside Court is considered to be the most violent part of Richmond by a landslide. A violent crime rate that’s 600 percent over the national average, gang activity in plain sight, and rampant drug use have made this a place that both police and people try to avoid.

You get the point.

So how did schools, who don’t get to see these kids until they are 5 or 6 and have them 35 hours a week 9 months a year (not counting chronic absenteeism), get to be the namesake of progressives’ “school-to-prison pipeline”?

That slogan and Ms. McEachin caused Richmond to remove the cops from the public schools in the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city. In 2020.

Good job.

Police. Richmond residents and their city council representatives may wish to see about increasing police presence in those neighborhoods.

It would help if they had enough cops. And if Ms. McEachin had their backs.

A year ago the Richmond police force had 137 vacancies, or 18% of the force. They left in droves after the summer of 2020.

The City Council was not expecting an uptick in hiring. The mayor’s budget for police was flat in FY 22 from FY 21, which was lower than FY 20.

Schools. Overall, Richmond Public Schools are horrible.

But we are here to see where the kids in these high crime areas go to school.

Those schools are worse.

10. Woodville: Woodville Elementary, Henry L. Marsh Elementary, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle, Armstrong High.

9. Fairfield: Woodville elementary, Fairfield Court elementary, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle, Armstrong High

8.  Gilpin.  Armstrong High, Albert Hill Middle, Binford Middle; Henderson Middle; Overby-Sheppard elementary; George Washington Carver Elementary

7.  Belt Center.  Elizabeth D. Redd Elementary, George Wythe High, Westover Hills Elementary, Lucille M. Brown Middle, Swansboro Elementary

6.  Oakwood.  Chimborazo Elementary; Armstrong High, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle

5.  Jeff Davis.  J.L. Francis Elementary, Oak Grove Elementary, Thomas C. Boushall Middle, George Wythe High

4.  Creighton. Henry L. Marsh Elementary, Woodville Elementary, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle, Fairfield Court Elementary

3.  Mosby. Henry L. Marsh Elementary, Woodville Elementary, Fairfield Court Elementary, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle, Armstrong High

2.  Broad Rock. George Wythe High, Armstrong High, Lucille M. Brown Middle, Swansboro Elementary

1. Hillside Court.  Oak Grove Elementary, Thomas C. Boushall Middle, George Wythe High

So, 19 schools serve ten neighborhoods where it may not be safe to walk down the street in the daytime. Or park a car.

So school is supposed to be safe?

Chickens and eggs. So, what do we have here? Who are the chickens and who are the eggs?

The kids are certainly eggs.

In the chicken category we have parents, neighbors, the school board, the schools and lack of public safety which is the responsibility of the city council.

Questions include:

  • Why, exactly, did the nine members of the school board run for the job? That is a serious question.
  • What does the Superintendent’s weekly calendar look like? When do the worst schools come up? Same questions to the school board.
  • As for the principals, how in God’s name can one preside over one of the schools listed here day-after-day for years and not lose one’s mind? Especially now that restorative justice won’t let them kick a bad kid out of school without a U.N resolution.
  • Any other thoughts about teacher shortages?
  • Why does not the city council flood those neighborhoods with cops?  Sorry, forgot, too many quit.
  • Where are the community organizers? No neighborhood watch possible when bullets are flying? Not possible to ID the shooters to the cops?
  • Can the school board invite the most successful urban charter school managers to help — at least to consult on new policies and methods? (Sorry, lost my way for a minute.)
  • Is everyone planning to vote for Ms. McEachin again?

The press are apologists for the causes of the nightmare. Another chicken is the press.

When was the last time the Richmond Free Press called out this Black catastrophe? Stories on Marsh Elementary’s new playground won’t get it done. In 2020, the editor weighed in:

We were pleased with Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras’ announcement last week stating that he will ask the School Board to remove police officers from city schools.

That was certainly the major problem with Richmond schools — too many police officers.

The Black press looks away and deflects blame, as does the Richmond Times-Dispatch. They follow the same playbook as Democrats in the General Assembly use in education.

They repeat endlessly that bad schools are a funding problem. Only. Progressive dogma: If a government program fails, raise its budget.

Violence is blamed on guns and the right.

Unless someone from a protected class pulls the trigger. Which is the case 100% of the time in those most dangerous neighborhoods. Then it is the fault of the gun.

And their mantra is that charter schools take money from the public schools. Like those listed above.

Bottom line. Richmond Public Schools is a self-perpetuating system that has no observable purpose other than to sustain itself at ever-higher costs.

Those violent neighborhoods are artifacts of too many out-of-control adults producing too many out-of-control children supported by bad public policy, too many apologists, crazy-bad schools, fear, and not enough cops.

And a Commonwealth’s Attorney who writes what she has written on her home page.

But there are good adults in there, and good kids who deserve a chance to learn. But they are scared, and should be.

Who is looking out for the good kids in bad neighborhoods who just want a fair chance in the world?

When is it their turn for “equity”?


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Comments

33 responses to “Richmond’s Crime-Infested Neighborhoods, Terrible Public Schools and Equity”

  1. DJRippert Avatar

    700 people generated 2,666 violent crimes in a single year? Dear Lord.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      The meaning of career criminal.

    2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      That is not necessarily the case. 700 people live in the project. Most probably, a whole lot of the violent crimes were committed by folks from outside the project.

      Also, 2,666 is a rate. It is not clear what is the ratio. 2,666 per xxxx population.

      1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
        James C. Sherlock

        Does it matter?

        1. Not Today Avatar

          Yes, it matters. It also matters whether or not communities are over/under policed because we know drug use is just as rampant in the burbs but often has an Rx attached.

          1. sherlockj Avatar

            Any thoughts about the kids who are collateral damage?

          2. Yeah, you are right, it does matter. The numbers are counts, not ratios, and that is even more chilling.

            Your conflation of illegal drug use with prescribed medications not so much. You will get no objection if your assertion is that there is abuse of prescriptions in the burbs. However, open illegal drug dealing is a primary conflict with police and puts a lot of people in jail. As long as we elect people to enact laws and hire other people to enforce them that will continue. That is not the equivalent of prescription abuse.

            Whether drug use should be illegal is another question. There is a pretty good argument that decriminalization that turns drug abuse into a personal health issue rather than criminal would be a big step forward. Virginia has taken the first baby steps with the decriminalization of pot.

        2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
          Eric the half a troll

          “Does it matter?”

          Classic…

      2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
        James C. Sherlock

        It is not a ratio, but rather a total in a year.

      3. Crime rates are usually expressed as # per 100,000.

      4. James C. Sherlock Avatar
        James C. Sherlock

        It is not a ratio, but rather a total in a year.

        1. 2,666 total crimes annually in an area with a population of +/-700 people is an extremely high crime rate.

          2,666 violent crimes in the same area is nothing short of astonishing and appalling.

          1. Not to mention the other 5,271 property crimes, That is more than 7 property crimes per year per resident and close to 1 per month per resident of violent and property crimes combined. That’s a living hell.

          2. Not to mention the other 5,271 property crimes, That is more than 7 property crimes per year per resident and close to 1 per month per resident of violent and property crimes combined. That’s a living hell.

      5. DJRippert Avatar

        I think that stat is a total. And I intentionally used the word “generated” rather than “committed” in an effort to distinguish between crimes committed by the population of that area vs committed in that area.

    3. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      The meaning of career criminal. Some can commit a half dozen or more property crimes in a night.

  2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    The situation is still pretty horrible, but it is has been getting better. As has been reported on this blog, the interim police chief has begun targeting those neighborhoods with the greatest incidence of gun violence with the result of a decrease in homicides and robberies. https://www.baconsrebellion.com/rva-5x-annual-crime-briefing-numbers/

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Good. But decrease is a relative judgment, not one that assumes some level of civilization.

      1. Actually the decrease is absolute, not relative.

        Even so, at current levels in some places it leaves the question of civilization open.

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    “But if democracy is to live, segregation must die. For racial segregation is a consentient body politic which must be removed before our moral health can realized. And we don’t have long to do this. It is urgent to do it now because the shape of the world today no longer affords us the luxury of an anemic democracy.”

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      I agree with you entirely. What we would likely disagree on is the source of anemia.

      And we would also likely disagree on the solutions to cultural and racial segregation, whether by choice or by government policy, applied by Black office holders and resulting in disadvantaged minority students.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Me? No. That was not me. You posed the question, “What would MLK say?” That’s a quote from MLK. I’m sorry it’s not the quote you’ve committed to memory and so you didn’t recognize it.

        1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
          James C. Sherlock

          OK. I agree with him entirely.

  4. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    What about 75%+ of the kids and parents who are relying on the schools to bring them out of poverty? Please do not assume that everyone in every school should be locked up. This is not the case. Most kids in these schools can only dream of a safe place to learn. Most parents want children to learn. Mostly good families are threatened by a small percentage of bad people.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Which is exactly what think I wrote, Kathleen.

      Reread my Bottom Line.

      “But there are good adults in there, and good kids who deserve a chance to learn. But they are scared, and should be.”

      “Who is looking out for the good kids in bad neighborhoods who just want a fair chance in the world?”

      “When is it their turn for “equity”?”

      When indeed?

  5. Turbocohen Avatar

    Government replaces fathers in the home. Eliminate government actions that replace daddy.

  6. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    The band played on and the fat lady has already sung. So depressing to read those statistics on the schools. Even Elizabeth D. Redd, named for my great grand aunt. That school did not fall on hard times until the past three years.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      About the time that Richmond pulled the cops out of schools and fired its truancy officers. Probably just coincidence.

  7. Thomas Dixon Avatar
    Thomas Dixon

    It would be interesting to compare these neighborhood crime and school statistics pre and post Civil Rights Act.

    1. A more apt comparison might be pre- and post- LBJ’s “War on Poverty”.

      1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
        James C. Sherlock

        Same time frame. Early Johnson Administration. Civil Rights Act needed and got Republican support in the Senate to kill a Democratic filibuster.

    2. Some of those areas have not changed much while some are very different. Separating cause and effect might be hard. However, Richmond’s public housing projects were dangerous places 60 years ago, they have not gotten safer.

      1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
        James C. Sherlock

        It is the link among the schools , the communities and the rest of government that drove me to do this research. There are a lot of chickens.

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