by Nora Pehrson
When Ward 3 residents go to the polls on November 4th, we will be voting for a new State Board of Education member in addition to a new mayor, attorney general, and at-large Council member.
The DC State Board of Education is made up of nine elected representatives, one from each of the city’s eight wards and one at-large member. It was established by the “Public Education Reform Amendment Act of 2007,” which established mayoral control over the city’s publicly funded schools.
The Reform Act transferred oversight of the public schools system from the local school board and moved state-level functions into a newly created state superintendent’s office (OSSE.) The current State Board of Education works with OSSE to implement state-wide policy, oversee school requirements for graduation, and the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Last spring, the State Board conducted roundtable discussions about boundary changes, truancy policies, and residency verification rules.
Laura Slover has been the Ward 3 representative on the board since 2008. She is not seeking reelection.
The four candidates running for her vacant seat will participate in a forum sponsored by the Palisades and Foxhall Citizens Associations tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Palisades Recreation Center.
Tricia Braun, an attorney, is co-president of Key Elementary PTA. Braun says on her website that, if elected, she will focus on achieving “high standards for students and for teachers,” improving the middle and high schools in the city, and advocating for greater coordination between DCPS and the charter schools.
Stephanie Lilley has served on two charter school boards, and in that role, she says she has helped oversee a dramatic turnaround in student test scores and overall quality at one of them. On her campaign site, Lilley says “strong schools are created from within,” and that parents, teachers and principals are central to reform. She opposes moving the school boundaries “until there are A+ Alternatives.”
Phil Thomas has been ANC commissioner for single member district 3D05 since 2010. He works as a physical education teacher at the Community Public Charter School. He supports the Common Core State Standards Initiative and is also interested in advocating for early childhood education as a way to close the achievement gap between low-income students and those from relatively affluent households. He has stated that he supports the current proposal to revise school boundaries.
Ruth Wattenberg is the parent of two DCPS students who have attended Janney, Deal, and Wilson. She says that she is looking for “a sweet spot” between the absence of accountability that plagued DCPS in the past and the over-testing that exists today. Wattenberg has worked as an education policy consultant and was the director of the American Federation of Teachers’ education division.
Outgoing Ward 3 Board member Laura Slover is the CEO of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), the organization that creates standardized tests for DCPS students.