Guest Column: In defense of LaVonne Sheffield
By Dyanna Chandler
She arrived in the city, April 2009, with a lofty peer recommendation, unanimous approval of the governing board, overwhelming acceptance by community leaders and residents proclaiming “Hosanna—Hail to our Savior.”
She began her work swiftly and efficiently, adhering to a directed mandate of change in the academic status quo; crafting a visionary plan to restore a dysfunctional education system, always focusing on academic success and equitable treatment for all children. Her passion and path centered on children and not adults.
Swift implementation of fiscal responsibility, teacher/administrator accountability, creation of centers of learning and not police states, professional development, methods to prepare pupils for college-level academic course work/future success were effective and measurable. Her love for children fueled the change, which, although successful, promoted the ire of a segment of the populace accustomed to preferential treatment, selectiveness and exclusion. The detractors yearned for the old path, which ultimately results in academic upheaval and failure. This persistent vocal minority deflected the attention of the community from academics for children to adult-oriented agendas. The group loudly shouted, protested and insistently demanded that she be crucified. They sought diligently, for false evidence to dismiss her. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
Valiantly, she preserved a calm and composed manner throughout the impeding turmoil with a group of committed supporters; further seeking refuge, comfort and affirmation from a group who should have been “the vocal majority,” the black ministers, elected officials and residents. However, their support was marginally visible and virtually non-existent.
Finally, after a nearly two-year journey of consistently pursuing a goal of educational excellence everywhere for all children, she proclaimed: “Your will be done—it is finished!”
Dyanna Chandler is a former journalist and currently a grant writer. She is also co-chairman of Ellis Heights Neighborhood Group.
From the May 4-10, 2011 issue