Phil Cefaratti Responds to Fact Check on Alexandria City Public Schools

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Phil_Cefaratti PortraitPhil Cefaratti, who is running for Alexandria, Virginia City Council, sent in a response to a fact checking post from Melynda Wilcox at Port City Notebook we posted about at this link.

Phil writes:

When Fact-Checkers Don’t Get Their Facts Right (or How to Turn Statistics on Their Head)

It was bound to happen. Someone has finally decided to attack me on my number one issue: Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS).

I am championing the drive to improve our school system. Some people don’t want to believe there are issues, since their children are getting a good education. That simply turns a blind eye to those who aren’t receiving a good education or having a positive experience with our schools. There is no reason for people to get defensive about arguments and proposals that will actually increase funding for teachers, programs, and infrastructure that focus on our ultimate goal: greater student success for ALL students.

Here are the claims: 1) “Phil Cefaratti, an independent who ran unsuccessfully three years ago.” Actually, I ran unsuccessfully six years ago in 2009. It was a very different world, and I ran on very different issues. 2) “Cefaratti does not cite a source for his claim regarding relative ratings.” While this is true, the real truth is out there.  Check out http://www.schooldigger.com/go/VA/district/00120/search.aspx (amazingly, since this summer our ranking has dropped from 94th to 100th) and also former schoolboard member, Mimi Carter’s website (https://mimicarter.wordpress.com/my-platform/) , which I found after deciding schools are my number one issue,  and details much of what I’m addressing. 3) The author states I am making “outrageous claims about Alexandria public schools.” I don’t believe my claims are outrageous. I do believe they are honest, direct, and present an unfortunate weaker side of Alexandria few want to acknowledge.

In the end, the author makes a fallacious argument by equating increasing enrollment to improved school quality. Instead of looking at enrollment numbers, which don’t prove a correlation, look at the demographics of Alexandria as a whole versus the demographics of ACPS. You will see a stark representation of who must send their children to ACPS; the small minority of residents who have options, but choose to send their children to ACPS, such as the author and Councilmembers Wilson and Lovain; and those who have a choice based upon their financial well-being, who choose to send their children to private schools.

We must address the fact that our schools do not compare favorably to Fairfax, Arlington, Falls Church, and Loudoun. People actually move to those jurisdictions specifically because of the quality of the public schools. We must accept responsibility that this issue does exist so that we may address it together for the benefit of our children’s future success…ALL children. Other City Council candidates agree with me…maybe they’re just a bit more politically correct.”

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Cactus Tony

I disagree with Cefaratti on much but he’s right on this one. Enrollment in ACPS, particularly at the middle & high school levels is driven by people who have no other choices, not by those who are drawn to schools of an excellent quality (though to be fair, I suppose even the worst ACPS school is far better than the conditions many are facing in their previous situations). The Port City Notebook author has shown repeatedly that she lives in a bubble (literally and figuratively) when it comes to the realities of ACPS. I’d like to suggest she spend a… Read more »