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Charlottesville City Schools Holds Forum to Discuss Racial Achievement Gap

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ProPublica's article highlights the racial inequalities in the city ProPublica's article highlights the racial inequalities in the city
Juandiego Wade Juandiego Wade
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

People came out in droves to Charlottesville High School to make their voices heard following a recent scathing article depicting inequities in the city’s school system.

The article, published by ProPublica and done in tandem with the New York Times, stated Charlottesville City Schools showed one of the biggest racial achievement gaps in the country.

The forum on Tuesday, October 23, offered a chance for people to learn about how the school system plans on addressing the education gap and give feedback for further improvement.

"We know that we're not the only school district in the country that's dealing with this, but we feel that this is an opportunity to address it - to have this open discussion, it’s really galvanizing us,” Juandiego Wade, the city’s school board chair, said.

One of the largest education achievement gaps in the country is right here in Charlottesville, and now the school system is looking to rectify that.

"We felt that after this article that we needed to take this effort to do this, to be as transparent as possible, to be open as possible, because it’s not everyday something like this gets on the front page of the New York Times," Wade said.

Now, Charlottesville City Schools is working to get some direction on how to address these issues.

"Everything needs to be looked at and that involves education - from the parents to the teachers to the curriculum, everything,” Janette Martin of Charlottesville’s NAACP chapter said.

Attendees at the forum broke up into small groups to address major topics outlined in the article.

Some say this is a step in the right direction for the school system.

"It’s opening up the can,” Vzena Howard, who lives in Charlottesville, said. “Where the conversations maybe were quiet conversations, now it’s out there publicly and more people can get involved and have more input in it."

Howard's family has been in the Charlottesville school system for three generations. "I see some things that's changed and some things that haven't that were going on when I was in school and that was years ago, but now everybody's speaking up,” she said.

Wade says there’s a lot more work to be done. "It didn't happen in the last few years, in the last hundred years, so it’s not going to change overnight, but we're committed to doing everything we can to address it."

The next community equity form will be at Charlottesville High School on November 27.

Charlottesville City Schools has also created a website with more information regarding that article. Click here to see data collected on equity in the school system.