Once upon a time I ran a news site, now I just have opinions on the news. 

Good morning, RVA: Schools data, taxes & budgets, and a really BIG show

Good morning, RVA! It's 59 °F, and it looks like there’s still a pretty good chance for rain today. Temperatures near 70 °F, though.

Water cooler

The federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has released a new batch of data illustrating racial disparities in our nation’s school systems. You can pull up Richmond Public Schools’ data and look at all sorts of things like enrollment by race/ethnicity, educational equity, and a discipline report. You should take some time to poke around, but a few quick things stand out:

  • Black students make up 74.7% of the District but receive 88.5% of the in-school suspensions, 93.9% of the expulsions, and 89.9% of the referrals to law enforcement.
  • Schools not offering Advanced Placement or IB courses have an enrollment of 94.8% Black students.
  • White students make up only 9.4% of the District but make up 35.6% of the students enrolled in the gifted and talented programs.
  • Despite a district-wide enrollment of 12.7%, almost no Hispanic students are enrolled in Calculus, Chemistry, or Physics.

There’s lots more to look through and I’m sure I missed some important takeaways, so please let me know if you see something worth sharing as we work towards a more equitable school system.

The most recent iteration of Richmond’s cigarette tax is dead, and yesterday I got into a little bit of why each Councilmember voted the way they did (YES: Hilbert, Larson, Agelasto; NO: Addison, Gray, Robertson, Newbille, Trammell, Jones). In addition to explaining why they voted for or against new revenue for crumbly school facilities, a few councilfolk vowed to do this or that—at some point—to help reverse the effects of decades of underinvestment. I think we should hold those councilmembers accountable to their promises, and the first step in that is remembering what they said! To that end, I cut out each of their closing remarks and made a YouTube play list of them for your enjoyment. To watch them all would take just over an hour, and that’s a lot of time, so maybe start with Newbille, Robertson, and Jones.

Gary Robertson at Richmond Magazine looks at the tale of two meals taxes, Henrico’s and Richmond’s. This quote from Henrico County Manager Vithoulkas should ring in your ears as we move forward on funding school needs in Richmond: “When I first met the company representative with Facebook, when they were seeking to build their largest data center somewhere in the world, they didn’t ask about our tax rate...Their concern was, ‘Tell me about your schools.’”

Henrico County passed their budget last night says the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Michael O’Connor—and it did not include Supervisor Courtney Lynch’s request for increased teacher pay. It did, however, include the $1.2 million for expanded bus routes which makes that officially official! Yesssssss.

Have you seen the new monument to Virginia’s native tribes on the Capitol grounds? It’s pretty neat, and after walking through it (well, around, in, and back out of it) I wondered what the artist had in mind when designing it. Brent Baldwin at Style Weekly sat down with them to discuss just that.

Early reminder! ART 180’s Really BIG Show takes place this Saturday from 1:00–4:00 PM at the Science Museum. Come check out what kind of art Richmond’s amazingly talented youth have been working on!


  • Squirrels had their game against Bowie postponed, and will try again today at 11:05 AM.
  • Kickers host the Toronto FC II tonight at 7:00 PM in City Stadium—you can get your tickets online.
  • With a 3-4 loss to the Giants, the Nats have now dropped four in a row. They’ll try to break that streak today at 3:45 PM.

This morning's longread

‘I Fundamentally Believe That My Time at Reddit Made the World a Worse Place’

A dark view of Reddit from a guy who used to help run Reddit.

The incentive structure is simply growth at all costs. There was never, in any board meeting that I have ever attended, a conversation about the users, about things that were going on that were bad, about potential dangers, about decisions that might affect potential dangers. There was never a conversation about that stuff. The only time we would ever hear anything from the board on that stuff is when there were huge press debacles like the Anderson Cooper thing. In that case, we would get a call from the people who were being negatively affected by the press basically wanting to know how they should answer and what we were going to do about it. The kind of classic comment that would come up in every board meeting was, “Why aren’t you growing faster?” We’d say, “Well, we’ve grown by 40 million visitors since the last board meeting.” And the response was, “That’s slower than the internet is growing; that’s not enough. You have to grow more.” Ultimately, that is why Ellen and I were let go.

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Good morning, RVA: Meat juice, OJ, purple stuff

Good morning, RVA: No cigarette tax, cash bail changes, and community art projects