10 Oct 2020

Election 2020:

Opinion: Why I Support Jacque Patterson for SBOE At-Large

The Hill is Home reached out to Jessica Sutter, the Ward 6 representative to the DC State Board of Education, to get her opinion on the At-Large SBOE race. Jessica is a former middle school teacher, professor and education consultant who holds a PhD. in Education Policy from the University of Maryland. This is Jessica’s opinion and does not necessarily reflect that of the DC State Board of Education.

As a member of the DC State Board of Education, I am proud to represent all of the families of Ward 6, wherever their children attend school, and all of the students attending Ward 6 schools, no matter where in the city they live. As my neighbors think about how to cast their ballot for the DC State Board of Education At-Large Representative this year, I have a few thoughts I hope they will consider.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Sutter

We need parent voices on the DC State Board of Education.

In the 2018 elections, four experienced former educators won seats on the SBOE dais. I joined Emily Gasoi (Ward 1), Frazier O’Leary (Ward 4), and Zachary Parker (Ward 5) in bringing our collective classroom experience to debates and decisions by our policy-making board. Unfortunately, we currently have only one parent of a school-aged child serving on the board.
We have no parents who are people of color. No parents with students enrolled in DC Public Schools. No parents of students living or attending school East of the Anacostia River, where the largest share of school-aged children in DC live. We would benefit from adding strong parent representation.

We need people who have a record of commitment to children and families in DC.

The SBOE is the voice of public education for our constituents. The At-Large role requires a member who understands how DC’s unique education landscape works and who has established relationships with educators and community organizations across all eight wards. We would benefit from a representative who understands that we cannot disconnect essential education policies from the other issues that affect children and families in DC. With responsibility for being a voice for schools and communities citywide, the At-Large representative would ideally be someone with significant experience in community engagement.

We need people who understand the limited but essential role of the SBOE.

The SBOE does not have power over school budgets, personnel decisions, or school facilities
modernization. Our board focuses on policy – state standards of learning, statewide accountability for school performance, high school graduation requirements, and accreditation standards for teacher licensure programs. This is a job for policy wonks. We need people who understand and want to play a role in those policy discussions and decisions for the next four years.

For all of those reasons, I am personally casting my ballot for Jacque Patterson for SBOE At-Large.

He’s a parent. He moved to DC as a single father and now has an adult daughter teaching in our schools and two school aged children attending a DCPS school in Ward 6. I am supporting both Jacque Patterson and LaJoy Law (SBOE Ward 8) because I think we need more voices of parents of color – Black parents, especially- as elected policy makers in DC.

Jacque has a long history of education and civic activism in DC. He has served as ANC Commissioner, worked for Martha’s Table, Rocketship PCS & now KIPP DC, deeply focused on the needs of children & families East of the River. I trust that, even when we do not see eye-to-eye on all policy matters – and we don’t – we share essential values around the importance of focusing on the needs of those most marginalized by our public systems.

Jacque is a quintessential policy wonk, with the degrees to back it up. He holds a BA in education, a Masters in education leadership and is currently a doctoral candidate at American University. He served in the Chancellor’s Parent Cabinet, was appointed to the SBOE’s ESSA Task Force and serves on the LSAT as his children’s school.

Finally, Jacque’s campaign manager, Nathan, is a young man I have known for 14 years & met when he was a middle school student. When he told me he was supporting Jacque, I knew that I would, too. Nathan is a DC native and came home again to serve his city after earning his undergraduate degree and teaching credential out of state. Knowing that Nathan believes
Jacque is the right choice for DC gives me great confidence that Jacque will be a strong representative for the children and families of the District.

Jessica Sutter is a Capitol Hill resident, former middle school teacher and serves as the current Ward 6 SBOE Representative.


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