You can count on me to reclaim the promise of public education for all of our children. The “Principles that Unite Us” align powerfully with my experience, beliefs and core values. These principles I will stand for as your mayor of the District of Columbia.
As the Nation’s capital, we should be leading the way on public education, using proven, state-of-the-art strategies to meet the profound needs of our students. Instead educators have been forced to operate on a one-size-fits-all basis more suited to the Industrial Age than a Knowledge Based Economy. No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have narrowed the learning experience of our children to a factory conveyer belt of test prep and rote memorization.
Parents, teachers, students and community have less voice now than ever. Mayoral control and the elimination of the school board brought decision making behind closed doors and made the system less accountable to the public. Reforms imposed from above threaten to turn public education into a business where choice and privatization trump professional knowledge and public civic engagement. The truth is parents don’t so much want choice as they want good neighborhood schools within easy walking or biking distance of where they live. You can count on me to rebuild the spirit of civic responsibility and commitment to public schools that is our democracy.
First, I will act to protect and re-establish neighborhood DCPS schools in every community as schools of right. Charter schools are here to stay, but should not be in a position to compete directly with and destroy neighborhood schools.
Second, the voices of teachers and parents must be at the table when important decisions are made. I will establish mechanisms to make that happen. I believe it is wrong to marginalize veteran teachers, administrators, and school staff, and ignore parents and students -- those who know the most about the school’s social and cultural context -- in favor of outside corporate sponsored entrepreneurs and other reform advocates.
Third, I believe it is misguided to expect educational fixes to solve intractable socio-economic problems. Blaming DCPS schools for student standardized test scores is like blaming hospitals for illness. In high poverty neighborhoods, I propose that schools co-locate needed wrap-around services so that school teaching staff are not expected to grapple alone with poverty related issues that show up in the classroom.
Fourth, Public education must be more than obedience training. I believe there is too much emphasis on standardized testing and student learning for the sake of assessment. To ready our children for today’s knowledge intensive economy, schools must nurture and support higher order capabilities like critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. I will make it clear to the chancellor that we want a renewed emphasis on creative and skillful teaching, on professional growth for educators, and on respect for the craft of teaching. I will expect an evaluation of IMPACT and other reforms to make sure that they are building respect and support for the complexities of teaching and learning.
Fifth, I believe that families have to be our partners in education and must be welcomed into schools. I will try innovative approaches to engage hard to reach parents including recruitment of “relatable” parents from the same neighborhood and background, and provision of incentives like SMART cards, whatever it takes to connect home and school.
Sixth, while DC Public Schools and charter schools are probably not underfunded, there is growing community concern that the dollars aren’t reaching the classroom. I will demand an analysis of where the money is going and how it could be better spent.
And finally, I will allocate resources to promote what DSCP is doing right. I am concerned that the relentless attack on teachers is being used to justify a reform agenda bent on privatization. It has demoralized teachers, students and parents.
We must act to protect and defend public education, and that means changing course. That is what makes this race for mayor so important. I am the only candidate who is committed to making changes before it’s too late and putting the public back in charge of public education.
Illegal drug dealers in open air drug markets near schools (ie: Unit b/o M St NW, near two public schools) lure students (primarily young #BlackMenAndBoys) with fast — if not large sums of — money away from their education. That pipeline/pipedream needs to be shut down as well.