To the Editor:
Reflect back to November 2013, Mayor Euille had just won a 4th term in an uncontested mayoral election — a landslide victory and his agenda had been totally embraced by the populace. However the one thing that the mayor wanted more than anything else was to cement his legacy as one of the great leaders of Alexandria. Without a written report from an engineer or lighting specialist, Mayor Euille declared that “light technology had improved so much that the city could now light Parker Gray Stadium for Friday night lights” so, in his words, “we could grow closer as a community. We also heard the speech that “promises are made to be broken.” With unprecedented hubris the mayor set the stage for a public debate focusing on the breaking of promises and disrupting the tranquility of neighborhoods.
The mayor is gone having been defeated in a landslide victory by Allison Silberberg. Mayor Silberberg is an advocate of tranquility in the neighborhoods as well as reasonable and thoughtful development. However others have emerged in an effort to continue Mayor Euille's legacy.
The placement of lights at T.C. Williams should never happen — the field location is too small and in some areas the field is less than 30 feet from the neighborhood homes. A much larger question is why would the city (School Board from their slush fund) fork over $6 million-plus to do this project when T.C. Williams High School is ranked 319 out of 322 high schools in Virginia, our school district Alexandria is ranked 92 out of 130 Virginia school districts, and our graduation rate is 79.6 percent vs Arlington at 92.8 percent and Fairfax at 92.75 percent. What may I ask is our objective in education? Is it not to be at least on par with our neighbors in scholastic achievement? Could that $6 million-plus be better served increasing our academic standing particularly in the general studies program which our former School Board member Justin Keating labeled the “bottom of the barrel.”
I have come to view T.C. Williams High School as a “private school in a public system” — the honors and advanced placement students are catered to but the general studies classes are ignored. We search for more honors programs to suit the high achievers but turn our back on those in need. And yes — there is even talk of a “middle college” wherein students could enroll and complete two years of college requirements so Mom and Dad can save two years of college tuition. Who benefits from this plan? The academic program at T.C. Williams is directed to the high achievers. To increase our standing and make us competitive with Arlington and Fairfax and we need to look at the general studies program and focus our attention on these students.
What about the issue of football and academics at T.C. Williams? In 2014 there were 28 students that were academically ineligible to play football but were granted waivers to play — if the waivers were not granted there would be no team, so why do we need a new stadium? Who gets the blame for this — the student, the coach or the school?
Sports do serve a role — a competitive role as well as a social role in high school. This $6 million-plus must be allocated to help the students succeed in life. Currently we do not match up with any other schools in our area and if the policy of the school is to educate every student and leave no student behind then turn out the lights and keep the promises made to our students, parents and neighborhoods. Spend the money on the schools.
William A. Goff