Every adviser told me to cut the issues I discuss herein to three. Here’s the problem, our students’ success won’t be guaranteed by minimizing solutions to fit political talking points. So, I ignored that advice.

I do not support full mayoral control. In other words, the mayor should not have sole or primary decision making power in respect to the hiring and firing of senior school leadership personnel. But, it’s not that simple. Parents and students should also have a voice in executive personnel and budgetary matters. The Board should have the most heavily weighted votes in executive hire decision making. One idea is to have the power shared like this: 20% mayor, 20% parents and students, 60% Board. What do you think?

It is embarrassing and shameful that we live in the nation’s capital and can’t guarantee the excellent education of every student. We have no time for complacency. Equity is a moral imperative, not a catchy slogan. The digital divide is one of the most inequitable daily reminders of how we perpetuate othering. This divide grants web access to the world’s canvass only to some. We have a responsibility to ensure every DC household has high-speed internet and computer technology necessary for students to learn effectively.

I wake up every day with a compromised immune system. I know firsthand that our dreams are not possible to achieve unless we are healthy. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness cannot coexist in unhealthy environments. No student or employee should be required to physically report to school throughout 2020. Any employees designated as essential should be provided with daily new personal protection equipment for free for them and their household members – and appropriate compensation for their risk.

Students of all ages must learn the study of race, ethnicity and indigeneity with a focus on the experiences and perspectives of people of color within and beyond the United States. This is necessary to prepare students to build effective relationships throughout their professional lives. The standardized testing movement prioritizes efficiency over individual learning, severely handicapping students’ critical thinking skills. I support mandating year-round Black and ethnic studies; LGBTQ history; music; foreign language, art; civics; and sports. Students in the nation’s capital must have the opportunity to become well rounded, productive, global citizens. 

Learning is discovery.  Hybrid, outdoor, applied learning hands-on experience in the educational process is central to developing critical thinking skills.  It is critical to child development and preparedness so that every student can compete in the global marketplace. We are responsible for nurturing students’ imagination.

The IMPACT evaluation system is better than prior metrics, but we should not be satisfied with this system.  The most appropriate assessment of teacher performance ought to include a combination of external peer evaluation, student evaluation, parent feedback, and self-evaluation.

Teachers are re-certified every four years. Teacher certification must include de-escalation and peer mediation training.  In between certification, I support requiring schools to provide annual de-escalation and peer mediation training with funds provided by DC Council.

I know the pain of structural racism all too well.  I was that Black boy assumed to be in need of Ritalin because the school didn’t know how to handle me; I was regularly threatened with suspension in the first and second grade!  In high school, I was racially profiled by police in my hometown, in my own neighborhood, cornered by multiple police vehicles and held at gunpoint with my face forced to the pavement for several minutes because I “fit the description” of an alleged suspect.  When my Mom and I went to the police precinct to file a complaint there was no record of the stop from the police. This has happened to me more than once.  Where one student is treated unjustly, there is injustice embedded in the system. This reality requires us to face the hard truth and make difficult decisions. We must ensure the safety of everyone in our schools but not at the expense of their humanity.

Every student, regardless of need, ought to be able to eat nutritious meals during school hours. Oh, and let’s make the meals taste good.  No one wants to eat the kind of porridge served in Oliver.

I contracted HIV when I was 21.  This experience has introduced me to a world of compassion.  Every DC high school student must be required to complete a total training on sexual transmitted infections and safe sex practices. The expertise abounds in DC; we only need to invest in the lives of our students.  This cannot be optional and the training can’t vary depending on skill and the level of bias of individual instructors.