Solar School Politics: Sturtevant, Carr, and Magruder

In case you did not know, Glen Sturtevant is Oregon Hill’s state senator for the General Assembly.

This morning, his name appeared on a Richmond Times Dispatch editorial about the Put Schools First/Richmond School Modernization referendum that will be on the ballot on November 7th. (interestingly enough, this column appeared briefly a week or so ago on the Times Dispatch website with Delegate Loupassi’s name instead of Sturtevant’s.)


This summer, dozens of citizens — spurred by the Richmond Crusade for Voters, the Sierra Club and others — braved 100-degree temperatures to gather signatures to put an end to the past six decades of government inaction. A record number of Richmonders — 15,000 — personally signed the petitions needed to get the school modernization initiative on the ballot. It should be crystal clear to all elected city officials that the citizens are tired of talk and want action. The charter change is very simple. It asks the mayor, after consulting with the City Council and the School Board, along with allowing for public input, to develop a fully funded school modernization plan for consideration within six months of the charter change becoming effective.

Although the editorial lauds ‘bipartisanship’, local Democrats continue to be less than welcoming to this grassroots referendum. In contrast, the Richmond Green Party has endorsed the referendum. From their press release this past July:

The Richmond Greens recognize that the decades of neglect and mismanagement of Richmond’s public school system is not solely the fault of the City of Richmond or Richmond Public Schools alone. The actions (or inactions, in some cases) by the Virginia General Assembly have exacerbated the issues affecting our public school system. However, we believe that anti-poverty initiatives need to include the modernization of school facilities to ensure our children have a better opportunity to unlock their utmost potential.

The modernization of our school buildings is not only essential to a quality education, but also promotes economic, racial, and environmental justice. Modernizing our school buildings will give the City the opportunity to invest in solar power and other “green” technologies to help reduce operational costs and combat climate change. It will also free students from the distractions of leaking/falling roofs, pests, and health issues (e.g. mold contamination) that seem to be exclusively present within school facilities mostly attended by African American students. And finally, Mayor Levar Stoney will have the chance to prove his commitment to enhancing education for children in every zip code of the City.

The Richmond Greens support the Put Schools First petition drive and will provide our support whenever possible. Efforts are currently underway to help our candidate, Montigue T. Magruder, win his House of Delegates race. As we inform the public of his candidacy, we will continue to inform voters about the Put Schools First petition to raise help raise awareness. We would like to extend our thanks to the Richmond Crusade for Voters and Sierra Club for leading the petition drive and would like to work with them on future endeavors.

So, a couple of things to watch:
Will Delegate Betsy Carr continue to say that she has not read enough to take a stance on the referendum? She will be at a neighbor’s house this Wednesday as part of a meet’n’greet. Magruder has one scheduled for Nov. 1 at the Bits and Pixels store in Carytown. Will the corporate media continue to largely ignore the political race here between Democratic Carr, Green Magruder, and Libertarian Crocker? (Both Magruder and Crocker support the referendum).

If the Put Schools First/Richmond School Modernization referendum passes this November, will local environmental and faith-based groups join the Sierra Club Falls of the James in calling for energy conservation, green building, and solar roofs to be part of Richmond school modernization?

We know that Dominion and the Richmond Children’s Museum are partnering to put small, ‘experimental’ solar on a few school roofs, but citizens should be demanding that Richmond install large,’working’ solar arrays on public schools (and elsewhere). Other Virginia localities are in the process of doing so now, often at their students’ urging.