Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Neighborhood Warfare?

Very late last night, at approximately 12:45 am, the Alexandria School Board once again voted not to renew Superintendent Rebecca Perry's contract. Once again the vote was 5-4.

If you want to read more about the debate on the School Board and Ms. Perry, register at and knock yourself out. The site was set up recently by Perry advocates and a lively discussion has been ongoing about the controversy, including the legal ramifications of a possible recall of elected school board members. That will undoubtedly be the next step.

But for a moment, let's back away and ask ourselves if this kerfuffle has less to do with the merits of Ms. Perry and is more about partisan politics and neighborhood strife.

One way of looking at the donnybrook is to view the Republicans of the affluent middle district (the Beverley Hills and Northridge neighborhoods) led by former Council member and current School Board official Claire Eberwein battling the Democrats of Del Ray over school system resources for their respective elementary schools, George Mason and Mt. Vernon.

Let's not forget Jack Taylor, mogul of the local Toyota dealership. He's written indignant letters to the Alexandria Gazette and paid for big ads blasting the School Board. But at the same time he's a bosom buddy of Mayor William D. Euille. Is the Democratic party quietly cheering on the Perry supporters?

And of course, where does this leave Jefferson-Houston, the sad little orphan of Parker-Gray? Prominent members of the black community like Ferdinand Day have started speaking up for Ms. Perry, who has worked hard to raise test scores for African-American and Hispanic students. But can these voices be heard amidst the war cries of the affluent white Alexandrians?