Northam creates panel on African American history education

HAMPTON — Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order Saturday creating the Commission on African American History Education.

“The full history of Virginia is complex, contradictory, and often untold — and we must do a better job of making sure that every Virginia graduate enters adult life with an accurate and thorough understanding of our past, and the pivotal role that African Americans have played in building and perfecting our commonwealth,” Northam said in a statement.

“The important work of this commission will help ensure that Virginia’s standards of learning are inclusive of African American history and allow students to engage deeply, drawing connections between historic racial inequities and their continuous influence on our communities today.”

The commission has a July 1 deadline to make recommendations on the subject.

The 34 members of the panel are:

  • Derrick P. Alridge of Charlottesville, professor of education and director of the Center for Race and Public Education in the South, Curry School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia;
  • Rosa S. Atkins of Charlottesville, superintendent, Charlottesville City Schools;
  • Edward Ayers of Richmond, professor of the humanities, University of Richmond;
  • Jarvis E. Bailey of Fredericksburg, high school administrator, Westmoreland County Public Schools and School Board member, Fredericksburg City;
  • Maria D. Burgos of Prince William County, supervisor of global learning and culturally responsive instruction, Prince William Public Schools;
  • Christy S. Coleman of Chesterfield, CEO, American Civil War Museum;
  • Robert N. Corley III of Chesterfield, associate vice provost for academic affairs and project director, The Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative, Virginia State University;
  • Pamela Croom of Hampton, president-elect, Virginia PTA;
  • Andrew P. Daire of Moseley, dean of the school of education, Virginia Commonwealth University;
  • Crystal DeLong of Bedford, teacher, Liberty High School, Bedford County Public Schools;
  • Beau Dickenson of Harrisonburg, president, Virginia Social Studies Leaders Consortium and social studies supervisor, Rockingham County Public Schools;
  • Crystal M. Edwards of Lynchburg, superintendent, Lynchburg City Schools;
  • Anne Marie Evans of Fluvanna County, director of education and outreach–new American history, University of Richmond;
  • John K. Lee of Raleigh, professor, North Carolina State University;
  • Makya Renée Little of Woodbridge, parent advocate and Florida A&M University alumna;
  • Monica Manns of Henrico, director of equity and diversity, Henrico County Public Schools;
  • Basil Marin of Atlanta, assistant principal, DeKalb County Schools;
  • Tyrone Nelson of Henrico County, chairman, Henrico Board of Supervisors and pastor, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church of Richmond;
  • Cassandra L. Newby-Alexander of Chesapeake, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Professor of History, Norfolk State University;
  • Atif Qarni of Prince William, education secretary, commonwealth of Virginia;
  • Gloria Randolph-King of Roanoke, retired Roanoke City Public Schools administrator;
  • Rodney Robinson of Richmond, 2019 national teacher of the year;
  • Vanessa D. Thaxton-Ward of Hampton, director, Hampton University Museum;
  • Michelle C. Thomas of Loudoun County, founder and CEO, Loudoun Freedom Center and president, NAACP Loudoun Branch;
  • Dietra Trent of Halifax, former education secretary;
  • James F. Lane of Chesterfield, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction;
  • Alice Reilly of Alexandria, educator, George Mason University;
  • Renita S. Williams of Chesapeake, secondary social studies instructional supervisor, Newport News Public Schools;
  • Rodney Jordan of Norfolk, co-chair, Virginia School Boards Association Task Force on Students and Schools in Challenging Environments and School Board member, Norfolk City;
  • Cainan Townsend of Farmville, director of education, Robert Russa Moton Museum;
  • Chris Van Tassell of Richmond, program coordinator and educator, Virginia Museum of History & Culture;
  • Robert C. Watson of Williamsburg, assistant professor of history, Hampton University;
  • William E. White of Williamsburg, visiting distinguished scholar, Christopher Newport University; and
  • Jonathan C. Zur of Richmond, president and CEO, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.

Nonprofit to provide vision tests to thousands of students in area

RICHMOND — A local nonprofit is gearing up to provide vision screenings to thousands of students.

Conexus will give vision screenings to an estimated 12,000 students in Richmond, Petersburg, Hopewell, Colonial Heights and Chesterfield County this year.

Last school year, the organization screened about 54,000 children across the state and 12,006 locally.

More than 1 in 3 were referred for more screening. The national average is 25%.

“We know that about 80% of what a child learns in a normal classroom setting is through their vision,” said Conexus CEO Tim Gresham, “and we also know that the vast majority of children in our region will not visit an eye care professional before starting the year, so our vision screenings are a critical component to a child’s school year.”

Richmond taking applications for Mayoral Teacher Advisory Council

RICHMOND — Are you a Richmond teacher and want the mayor’s ear? Here’s your chance.

Applications are open for the Mayoral Teacher Advisory Council, a group of teachers who meet with Mayor Levar Stoney and offer education suggestions.

Last year, the advisory board suggested giving teachers free CPR training, which is now happening.

The application can be found online.

It closes Sept. 14.

Bike ride on Capital Trail raises money for Blackwell Elementary

RICHMOND — Ajay Brewer, owner of Brewer’s Cafe in Manchester, organized a bike ride on the Virginia Capital Trail recently to raise money for Blackwell Elementary School.

The ride was named after Brewer’s son, Parker, and also was a celebration of Parker’s fifth birthday.

Parker’s 50 Mile Bike Ride on Aug. 10 started in Williamsburg and ended at Blackwell.

The event is using a GoFundMe account to raise money for the school; to donate, go to

UR professor Mariela Mendez wins international book award

RICHMOND — A University of Richmond professor, who is an expert on the advocacy of feminist intellectuals in Latin American press of the 19th and 20th centuries, has received an international book award.

Mariela Mendez was awarded the 2019 Best Critical Monograph Award by the Association for Gender and Sexuality for her book “Crónicas Travestis: The Transgressive Journalism of Alfonsina Storni, Clarice Lispector and María Moreno.”

All students to receive free meals in Newport News Public Schools

NEWPORT NEWS — All students in one Virginia public school system will receive free breakfast and lunch under a federal program.

Newport News Public Schools received approval from the state’s Education Department to use a federal program that reimburses meals at schools with a certain proportion of low-income students.

District child nutrition official Cathy Alexander announced the news Tuesday.

The Virginian-Pilot reported that it’s the largest public school system in the state to give all meals to students for free.

Federal funding eligibility depends on the percentage of students who participate in public benefit programs that already make them eligible for free meals.

If at least 40% of students fall into that category, the schools are eligible for funding.

About 47% of students in the district met the criteria, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

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— From staff and wire reports

Politics/Education Reporter

Justin Mattingly covers state government and education. A northern New York native and a Syracuse University alumnus, he's worked at the RTD since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter at @jmattingly306.

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