Charlottesville City: We discriminate, but we have good reasons

| May 17, 2009 | 20 Comments
The City's New Seal

The City's New Seal

With abhorrently astronomical drop out rates, a phlegmatic school board, and dangerously derelict disciplinary policies, it’s no wonder that many thinking taxpayers abandon the sinking ship that is the Charlottesville City Schools.

The City of Charlottesville hates the fact that so many potential indoctrination hostages (aka eligible government-school students) opt-out of our deficient division in favor of a quality, private education. And now, the City has found a way to punish for their civic disobedience, those tax-paying citizens who choose to have their children privately educated, all in the name of City-compelled “fairness.”

Yes, if you want to buy a Summer Pool Pass at a discounted rate, you must be a “Charlottesville City Student.” What does that mean, you ask? Well, we did, and according to a May 12, 2009 email response from Charlottesville’s Chief Policy Defender, Ric Barrick, here’s who qualifies for the “sale” price:

Students currently enrolled in the City of Charlottesville School System and homeschooled children with Charlottesville addresses.

Hey, doesn’t that debar a huge number of Charlottesville kids (i.e. those attending private schools)? Why on earth would we exclude children whose parents pay copious city taxes, but don’t dun a dime’s worth of City public education resources?

Let’s hear the city’s official line via a May 14, 2009 Barrick email:

In effect, the difference in the rate for city student/home school students and private school students is $4 for the year at the pre-season sale rate and $9 per year at the regular rate.

Historically we don’t see a lot of traffic at the pools by private school students so we were targeting our largest users and those who we felt needed the assistance the most.+ The City is comfortable with our proposed pass structure and also feel it is very affordable across the income spectrum as compared to other cities our size.+ The reason we began this new approach was an effort to ensure that we provide access to those where income is a barrier.+ This is the first year for this structure and we are certainly open to expanding it if we see participation changes this summer.

Grammatical incompetency aside, let’s analyze, for any symptom of logic or coherence, Barrick’s tortured defense of Charlottesville’s blatantly discriminatory policy:

First point: The difference is small so that private school parents really have nothing to complain about.

This dismissive and specious argument portrays the wronged party (private school parents who seek the discount) as petty and unreasonable in their request to be treated equally. It is offensive at its core.

Second point: Not many private school kids use the pools, so we chose to target (incentivize) kids who already are our customers. (i.e. targeting the market you already have).

So, who’s the marketing “genius” that came up with this ruse? Targeting your existing, full-paying market with an unnecessary discount, while intentionally neglecting a substantial-sized, non-participating (and thus, non-paying) market shows that the City’s promotional department is “stuck on stupid.”

Third point: We’re giving the discount to those we feel need it most.

Beware a “feeling” government! What evidence backs this preposterous pretention? Many home-school families are economically comfortable. (Who else can afford a one-income existence in this tax-hungry metropolis?) And, many kids attending Charlottesville City Schools are from well-to-do “University” families.

In contrast, many kids attending private schools do so on a scholarship or after great financial sacrifice, and their families may in fact need the “help” withheld from them by Charlottesville’s progressive social engineers.

Fourth point: If more private school kids use the pools during the summer, we might consider offering them a discount.

To quote our sapient City Manager, Gary O’Connell: “Does that make sense?”

If this “discount” is really meant to help those the city “felt needed the assistance the most,” it should not be used to reward people already using the pools and to deprecate those who aren’t. But isn’t that precisely what Barrick’s response intimates?

So why did City Manager O’Connell and his merry band of policy wonks exclude (i.e. give the discount to) home schoolers (whom City government despises even more than private schoolers) from this blatantly discriminatory policy:

Because private schoolers do not have a legal defense association;

Because private schoolers do not constitute a vocal or visible constituency that might make trouble for City Council;

And because, in their infinite arrogance, City officials thought they could get away with it…

You don’t have to be a private school family to be outraged over this prejudicial policy. If you want to be a voice for real fairness, call City Manager O’Connell at (434) 970-3101 and tell him to STOP DISCRIMINATING against private school kids and their tax paying families.

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About the Author:

Rob Schilling is founder of The Schilling Show Blog and News; host of WINA's The Schilling Show, heard weekdays from noon to 2 PM; husband; father; and community watchdog.
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20 Comments on "Charlottesville City: We discriminate, but we have good reasons"

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  1. Cville Eye says:

    Why is there a seasonal price structure on the pools anyway? Do the costs of maintenance and mangement go down during the summer? I would think not since more pools are open and more people are employed. Sounds like another attempt by the City to make people think it is doing something for them. It seems there are a lot of people on the City’s payroll who really have little to do and a lot of time to brain storm about solutions to non-problems.

  2. Schilling Show says:

    Maybe for the same reason we have seasonal water rates. Ummm, what was that reason again?

  3. Cville Eye says:

    I believe the water rates are lower in the winter while UVA is in session and higher in the summer. The passes however are higher in the winter and lower in the summer. I don’t think there’s any reasoning here whatsoever but the policy certainly fools a lot of people.

  4. rick_sincere says:

    Why not just provide a discount based on age? Any Charlottesville resident younger than 18 years would qualify — or younger than 17, 16, 15, whatever works best. (You could also provide a senior discount for residents older than 65, for instance.)

    Distinguishing among types of schooling makes little sense.

  5. Cville Eye says:

    Because that would be close to the way it has always been done and the staff person with the idea couldn’t have evidence to support his keeping his job. Wait until they start tinkering with the free summer bus passes program.

  6. Sean McCord says:

    It’s not true, Rob. As a member of the Parks and Recreation Citizen Advisory Committee, I can assure you that we have no intention of excluding private school students from the discounted season passes. I explain more on my own blog, here: http://citizenmccord.com/2009/on-pool-passes/

  7. Schilling Show says:

    Glad to hear things have changed, Sean. However, you should speak with Ric Barrick. I asked him directly about this, and he insisted it was true, and that he confirmed the policy with Brian Daly. See his 5/12 email to me:

    On May 12, 2009, at 02:38 PM, Barrick, Ric wrote:

    No, students in private schools are not eligible for that discount.

    From:Rob Schilling
    Sent:Tuesday, May 12, 2009 2:30 PM
    To:Barrick, Ric
    Subject:Re: Pool Fee Inquiry

    What about private schooled kids?

    So, according to the City spokesperson, it was true that private school families could not avail themselves of the “sale” price. Since we ran the story, the policy has been made more inclusive. Please see the change in terminology on the city web site from the original text (pictured above in this story) to what now appears.

    Regarding the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, Ric never mentioned them to me directly, so I did not reference them in my original story. But, did he put the blame on PARAC when he spoke with NBC 29′s Henry Graff. Please contact Henry for details and confirmation.

  8. Sean McCord says:

    Yes, Rob, the seasonal pass webpage now reads “Charlottesville City Student – valid for any student (excluding college students) that has residency within the City of Charlottesville”. But please understand that this is a semantic clarification, and that it was never the intent of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee to exclude any city student — public, private, or home-schooled — from the discounted rate. In fact, it was fully our intention to make the season passes affordable and attainable to as many city residents as possible. To imply that we were part of some larger conspiracy to punish families who choose to take their kids out of public school is simply silly. There must be better ways for you to get attention.

  9. Schilling Show says:

    Typically liberal response: completely ignore stated facts; respond emotionally; attack the message bearer; blah, blah, blah…

  10. Chiefcookandbottlewasher says:

    Sean, you are embarrassing yourself. ROB never said that your advisory committee made a policy that excluded private school students—RIC BARRICK apparently 1) told Rob that private school students WERE MOST DEFINITELY excluded from receiving discounted swim passes (see email above); and 2) told Henry Graff from Channel 29 that it was your advisory committee that set this exclusionary policy. Personally, when I heard Graff say this I said to myself that it was just the city’s (i.e. Gary or the Head of Parks and Rec) way of blaming someone else for their gross error. THE CITY, NOT ROB sloughed the mistake off on you and your cohorts . Please read and listen carefully in the future before attacking someone for nothing.It’s amusing but very unfair.

  11. Sean McCord says:

    If Rob had just repeated this erroneous information, then I would have no beef with him. If Ric Barrick reported that the Parks & Rec Advisory Board had proposed excluding private school students from the discounted season pass rates, then that is something we need to take up with him. But Rob did write:

    ‘The City of Charlottesville hates the fact that so many potential indoctrination hostages (aka eligible government-school students) opt-out of our deficient division in favor of a quality, private education. And now, the City has found a way to punish for their civic disobedience, those tax-paying citizens who choose to have their children privately educated, all in the name of City-compelled “fairness.”’

    To state that the City is punishing families of private-school students by not allowing them to purchase discounted pool passes also implies that the Park and Rec Advisory Board would have to be part of some larger conspiracy, which is asinine. The only embarrassment I feel is for Rob Schilling.

  12. Schilling Show says:

    @Sean McCord

    Sean McCord :

    To state that the City is punishing families of private-school students by not allowing them to purchase discounted pool passes also implies that the Park and Rec Advisory Board would have to be part of some larger conspiracy, which is asinine. The only embarrassment I feel is for Rob Schilling.

    No such implication was made. However, if you inferred it from my comments, then the problem is with your lack of reading comprehension. Are you a product of government schools?

  13. Cville Eye says:

    It is quite common for the final result not totally reflect the recommendations of a city committee and I believe the resulting policy did not reflect the intent of the Parks committee. For example, at the last Council meeting, the Housing Advisory Committee and the CDBG Task Force made recommendations for spending $600K+ of the Housing Fund. The staff then recommended to Council to not fund two of the recommended projects. Council did not fund them. I think there was a great deal of confusion once the city staff got hold of the policy and posted it on the website.

  14. Chiefcookandbottlewasher says:

    What Cville Eye said.

    Sean, it sounds like you are taking this personally and are fearful that the commmunity will think that your group was behind the terrible policy. You are protesting too much and may cause the very problem you are trying to prevent (drawing too much attention to who was responsible for this policy may get people thinking it WAS your group when they never would have thought of that).

    SURRENDER, SEAN!!!!!

  15. Gary says:

    Rob, you wrote:Beware a “feeling” government! What evidence backs this preposterous pretention? Many home-school families are economically comfortable. (Who else can afford a one-income existence in this tax-hungry metropolis?) It is my understanding that several families in
    this area are making large sacrifices to home-school their children.
    I am not sure that they are economically comfortable. Can we at least
    agree to give them a tax credit for home schooling?

  16. Chiefcookandbottlewasher says:

    Gary, what is “preposterous” about the sentence “Beware a feeling government?”

    Color me confused……

  17. Schilling Show says:

    Gary, yes, tax credits; I agree wholeheartedly! My point was not that all home school families are comfortable, but rather, that the city’s differentiation on the basis of economics was not warranted in any of the considered schooling scenarios.

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