With the 2020 election cycle well underway, many are turning their attention to the various endorsements and stances of political candidates on issues impacting schools. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the RPS (Richmond Public Schools) endorsements that Virginia educators and parents should be aware of.
Overall, it’s important to note that RPS is a district that has struggled with low funding and high needs, particularly among students of color and those from low-income families. As such, many RPS endorsements are focused on those candidates who are most likely to push for funding and programs that can uplift underserved communities.
One particularly significant endorsement in the 2020 cycle comes from the Richmond Education Association (REA), which has thrown its support behind Dr. Cameron Webb for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. As an educator himself and a strong advocate for public education, Dr. Webb has pledged to fight for increased funding for schools at every level, including for RPS. Specifically, he has spoken out in support of policies centered on teacher pay, rural school resources, and student loan relief for educators.
Another endorsement that RPS supporters may be interested in is that of the Virginia Education Association (VEA), which has endorsed several state Senate and Delegate candidates. Among them is Ghazala Hashmi, a candidate for the state Senate’s 10th District who has built her platform around creating more equitable opportunities for all Virginia students, regardless of their background. Hashmi’s views align closely with RPS’s own priorities, including increased funding for low-income schools and a greater focus on supporting students of color and those with special needs.
Meanwhile, in the race for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District (which encompasses part of Richmond), Abigail Spanberger has earned an endorsement from the National Education Association. Spanberger is a former educator herself, and has pledged to focus on issues like reducing class sizes, strengthening early childhood education, and providing more resources for students living in poverty. Given that RPS has some of the highest levels of poverty among Virginia school districts, Spanberger’s platform is one worth watching.
Finally, RPS advocates should also take note of down-ballot candidates. The Virginia House of Delegates is a particularly important venue for education policy, given the body’s control over funding decisions. Among the notable candidates in the 2020 cycle is Alex Askew, who is running in the 85th District. Askew has spoken extensively about his desire to increase teacher pay and create a more inclusive learning environment for students who come from marginalized backgrounds. He has also worked to increase access to school-based health care services and has pledged to fight for additional funding for schools in low-income areas.
No matter which candidates teachers and parents choose to support, it’s clear that this election cycle has important implications for RPS and for public schools throughout Virginia. With the right elected officials in place, there is hope that the district can begin to address its most pressing concerns and provide a more equitable education to all students.