About the Race
The election for the 4th District representative for the Richmond School Board takes place on November 3, 2020, during the general election. Teacher and activist, Deanna Fierro, is running against incumbent Jonathan Young.
About the District
Richmond is an independent city and the Commonwealth’s capital. It lies on the fall line of the James River between Chesterfield and Henrico counties. Richmond City’s population is roughly 200,000, although the greater metro area has a population of over 1 million. The 4th District trends Democratic, with Rep. Don McEachin (D) winning over 70% of the vote during the 2018 congressional election.
Deanna Fierro is a Virginia public school teacher who recently earned her master's degree in Education Leadership from VCU. Fierro has also advocated for students and educators throughout the state, helping to organize the 2019 RedforEd March in Richmond to urge legislators to increase public school funding. She has also served as her district’s zoning representative to the school board, where she advocated for a facilities plan that would help decrease overcrowding in classrooms. She has also filed a federal complaint on behalf of Richmond's English as a Second Language (ESL) students because of the lack of funding and resources.
Fierro’s platform has three central pillars: retaining educators, attracting families to the Richmond school system, and building communities. She believes that retaining educators will lead to significant improvements in the quality of education at Richmond public schools. In order to retain more teachers, Fierro believes it is essential Richmond establish collective bargaining for educators, develop a plan to collect their input before implementing policies that change day-to-day school operations, and create a system for collecting exit interviews so administrators can identify retention issues.
She believes that families and communities will be best served by increasing equity in Richmond’s schools and make learning equally accessible to all students in the city, particularly for students who have special needs or are not proficient in English. Fierro wishes to address these issues by creating a community engagement plan that allows families to have input on school decision making, develop strategies to close education gaps caused by systemic disparities, and identify a process to uplift underserved student populations.
Fierro’s opponent is incumbent Jonathan Young, who proposed open enrollment for all students at all Richmond schools as a replacement for rezoning proposals in 2019. His plan also involved closing five Richmond schools, despite the issues Richmond schools already faced with overcrowding.
Given her commitment to improving education for ESL students, her support for educator collective bargaining, and her innovative approach to equity in education, Deanna Fierro is the most progressive choice in this race.