Socioeconomic Integration and the Greater Richmond School District: The Feasibility of Interdistrict Consolidation

Barry Gabay *

Stark disparities in public education within the Greater Richmond area are commonplace and have been for over a century. Richmond Public Schools primarily consist of an impoverished student body attending dilapidated schools. Meanwhile Richmond’s bordering suburban counties, Chesterfield and Henrico, generally enjoy state-of-the-art learning facilities attended by far more economically diverse student bodies. Today’s inequities can only be understood with recognition of a history of institutionalized segregation in the Richmond area—a history that is ingrained within the municipal offices, along the public transportation system, and, especially, inside the schools. The problem is that in the Richmond area, a child’s place of residence, rather than his academic aptitude, greatly determines his educational ceiling, and the setup of local governments within Virginia inflames the problem.

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* J.D., 2015, University of Richmond School of Law; B.A., 2009, University of South Carolina. The author is intimately familiar with Richmond Public Schools, having received the majority of his pre-collegiate education from schools in the system and graduating from the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond, Virginia. This comment was inspired by the lifelong dedication of the author’s parents, Barry B. Gabay and Downy Roberts-Gabay, to the students of Richmond Public Schools, and it benefitted from the guidance of the Rev. Benjamin Campbell, Professor Kimberly Robinson at the University of Richmond School of Law, and Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University.