06 Oct 2020

Election 2020:

Opinion: Washington Teachers’ Union’s Endorsements on SBOE races

The Hill is Home reached out to Laura Fuchs to give her opinion on the SBOE races. Laura is a teacher at H. D. Woodson High School and is chair of the Washington Teachers’ Union Committee On Political Education (COPE). You can follow her on Twitter at @DCWard7teacher.

The DC flag. Photo by Mr. T in DC

Recommendations for who to support on the DC State Board of Education from the Washington Teachers’ Union.
Our Process:

  1. We issued a questionnaire to all candidates. Responses are available here: bit.ly/WTUQuestionnaires
  2. We held a labor-facing candidate forum to hear from the candidates.
  3. We held discussions with WTU Members who voted in 4 separate meetings to come to a consensus on who we support which was approved by the WTU Membership.

Our Recommendations for State Board of Education

At Large: Mysiki Valentine
WTU Questionnaire Score: 97/100
Mysiki Valentine is a product of the DC Public School System attending both DCPS and DC Public Charter Schools. Mysiki has been a staunch advocate for many issues, including our schools, for a long time. Hailing from Ward 7, he is the voice we need to counter privatization and fight for fully funded neighborhood schools for all. In his questionnaire Mysiki states: “Students, parents, and caregivers ought to have access to by-right, high quality, public schools from cradle to grave. As the At-Large member of the State Board of Education (SBOE), I will be a staunch advocate for budgets that reflect
the reality that in order for us to have strong communities we need strong schools.” Mysiki Valentine is the voice we need to advocate and fight for our public school system for all of our students. He will make sure OSSE and our system are accountable to the people!

Ward 2: James Harnett
WTU Questionnaire Score: 98/100
James Harnett is a student at George Washington student and an elected ANC Commissioner. A dedicated progressive, he understands that the role of an elected official goes beyond the direct policies they can vote upon and must use the position as a bully pulpit to advocate for all students and against Mayoral Control. In his questionnaire James states “Anytime we centralize oversight power in one body, we are asking for trouble. Mayoral Control of OSSE and DCPS means that there is no real way for State Board Members or any other authority to make decisions or conduct oversight on behalf of our students and schools. OSSE must become an independent agency with
oversight from the DC Council and the State Board. The State Board also needs to see its
powers expanded to conduct oversight of the Mayor and the Chancellor.” James Harnett is a young, fresh voice who understands that mayoral control does not work and that it will take a unified and active effort to make our system work for our students.

Ward 4: Frazier O’Leary WTU Questionnaire Score: 98/100
Frazier O’Leary is a recently retired veteran educator from DC Public Schools. Frazier understands how policies from the State Board of Education affect our classrooms. He stands strongly against rating our schools using test scores and the need to fund our classrooms, not central office. Frazier states “I want every child in the District of Columbia to receive a high quality education and have the same resources as those of
his or her peers. I have always been and will continue to be a fierce advocate for the system to live up to these ideals. I am a believer that the State Board of Education should have more input in the educational lives of our children and will continue to push for this change in our system.” He is running unopposed and the WTU stands behind his
continued service on the Board.

Ward 7: Eboni-Rose Thompson
WTU Questionnaire Score: 89/100
Eboni Rose Thompson is the long-serving chair of the Ward 7 Education Council. A daughter of a current WTU Member and champion for our neighborhood schools, Eboni Rose has stood alongside the WTU in the fight to modernize Ward 7 schools, get more
funding and improve the neighborhood public school feeder pattern East of the River.
Eboni Rose states: ““The data is not the problem. The problem is we do not use the data we have. OSSE has more data on student mobility in SLED than we use. Reporting transparency would more clearly show the uneven burdens placed on schools, especially neighborhood schools East of the River who face the challenges that come with being on the receiving end of churn. I believe this data can be used to resource schools properly during the budget process, as well as to identify and call out bad actors. Our public education system needs to support students who are impacted by mobility. Churn is a threat to graduation. We need to make sure resources follow
students whenever and wherever they go.” Eboni Rose Thompson is who we need on the State Board of Education. She has a proven commitment to our public schools as a daughter, student, advocate and civic leader throughout her life. She is who we need to champion Ward 7 students.

Ward 8: Carlene Reid
WTU Questionnaire Score: 97/100
Dr. Reid is an experienced educator with 15 years of experience in Special Education. She has served at the local, state and federal levels in the District understanding the policy from a wide variety of perspectives. She accompanied us on one of our car caravans, speaking strongly in front of the Chancellor’s house. This kind of passionate leadership is what we need to fill the seat vacated by our ally Markus Batchelor. Carlene Reid states: “When I worked for DCPS I was a member of the Council for School Officers
(CSO) and as a member heavily relied on D.C.’s elected leaders to be accessible to hear the concerns of union members as a collective body. Regardless of my endorsement status, I vow to keep this cohort of unions proactively engaged around issues by notifying these groups of upcoming topics and burgeoning concerns around education. I feel that it is paramount unions and their members have a adequate time to weigh in on
all policies, position statements, and votes from the state board of education.” Dr. Carlene Reid has the insight and knowledge of the policies the State Board of Education deals with, and brings an expertise on Special Education that is very needed.

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