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A Voter’s Guide To the D.C.

State School Board Race

The WAMU Voter Guide for each State Board of Education candidate in each ward that will
elect a school board representative on Nov. 6. It highlights the amounts raised by each
candidate and a summary of their responses to key issues.

​Ward 1 Candidates
Candidate Callie Kozlak Jason Andrean Emily Gasoi

Amount Raised According $18,140.61 $65,349.66 $29,384.00

to Oct. finance reports.

Are you currently satisfied  YES: ​More or less - YES: ​I support Mayoral NO:​​ ​While I agree there
with the ​structure of M
​ ayoral  there is value and control, under which executive have been some
control of schools?  efficiency in having a management of the education improvements over the past
centralized system that can system is assigned to the Mayor 11 years of education reform
leverage dedicated and oversight responsibility to in DC, I also think there is an
resources for health, the DC Council. We should inherent conflict of interest
facilities, transportation, continue to find ways to when the State
parks & rec, public safety increase the transparency and Superintendent both reports
to holistically support our accountability in our system. to the Mayor and is charged
schools. Nonetheless, with evaluating the
balance of power among effectiveness of the Mayor’s
governing bodies is policies. There is fear among
healthier for advocacy. My some of “returning to how
approach will focus on things were” before Mayoral
empowering kids and control if we change course,
communities, not the but there’s no reason to
power structures of believe that we can’t keep
government. what’s working, while also
pursuing changes that make
our system more
accountable, more
responsive to stakeholder
needs, and ultimately, more

Are you currently satisfied  NO:​​ ​I would like to see YES:​​ ​Our priority must be to NO:​​ I'd like to see the state
with the role of the State  the Board have more keep politics out of education, to board have more authority in
Board of Education? regulatory power to shape the greatest degree possible. promoting independent
policy like Boards in other Simply giving SBOE more research on what's working
states. Nonetheless, I want authority will only further and what isn't. The State
to focus on using the politicize education Board needs to be able to
current power and platform policymaking. Instead of giving initiate work, conduct
of the Board to stay 100% SBOE more authority, Council investigations, and pursue
focused on solutions and should allocate more resources lines of questioning on behalf
improvements for kids and so that SBOE can more of their constituents on any
communities. effectively do the job with which subjects of concern.
it is currently tasked, including
its role as a primary conduit for
serving as a voice for the
residents of our respective

What is one of the biggest  GENTRIFICATION: ACHIEVEMENT GAP: POVERTY:​​ ​I think

issues impacting students in  we have an incredibly The persistent achievement gap stressors related to poverty
your area and how do you  diverse Ward and an between children of color and and other out-of-school
plan to use the state board  opportunity to integrate our white children continues to be factors that impact students’
seat to impact that.  schools so that kids are not an issue. To address that issue, ability to learn and thrive are
growing up racially and I will use my SBOE seat to one of the biggest issues. I
culturally isolated. I will use advocate for equitable funding am currently on the DCPS
my seat on the board to in schools, additional out of Community Schools Planning
take a hard look at equity school time funding, and Committee and I will continue
gaps, meaningfully engage additional mental health support to advocate for strengthening
communities and in our schools and communities. and expanding our
educators, and determine community school
what conditions and inputs partnerships, which bring
it will take to support the targeted wrap around
unique needs of students services and enriched
and create high-quality curriculum to students, their
schools across the city that families, and the community.
serve as magnets for
families from all different

board did not approve a new
policy the state RIGOR​:​ I don’t think we RIGOR:​​ C
​ redit recovery RIGOR:​​ O
​ SSE’s credit
superintendent wanted to should take ideas off the policies should outline when a recovery proposal did not
implement regarding credit table for supporting student student is eligible to take the ensure that content in Credit
recovery. In your opinion, pathways to college and course, what courses are Recovery courses would be
what should the ideal credit career ready; and considered to offer similar levels comparable in quality and
recovery policy include? recognize that students of rigor when compared to the rigor to regular course
and families face a host of underlying course, and how content. The ideal credit
situations that may impact credits in the credit recovery recovery policy would specify
their ability to excel in a course are earned. the standards and require an
more traditional pathway to assessment that determined
graduation. An ideal policy students growth after taking
should provide flexibility the CR course.
but ensure rigor of credit
recovery courses by having
DC teachers and trained
educators lead on
developing course content
and curriculums.

Should schools have 5  YES:​​ The rating system YES:​​ ​While the STAR ratings NO: ​A rating system may
star-ratings? helps provide a baseline system (or any rating system for be good for rating the quality
comparison for publicly that matter) is not perfect, we of a hotel, but schools are
differentiating schools and should view it as a legitimate complex organizations based
seeing where there are starting point in the process on human relationships and
equity gaps. Such a toward ensuring uniformity and diverse individual interests
system is a means for greater transparency across and needs.
putting pressure on all both traditional and charter
public officials to ensure no sectors. The goal is to hold
neighborhood has a schools accountable and
concentration of 1- star provide parents with the
schools, while other information necessary for them
neighborhoods have all 5’s to compare and determine
– but for families, the rating which schools are best for their
system should serve as children.
one tool among many
sources to decide on which
school is best for their

commissioned research into Board should look at the The board should have a study We need a Research
teacher turnover. What other issue of school diversity, conducted to make committee to look at what
topics should the board look including policies and recommendations on how we school evaluation criteria are
into and why? strategies to integrate can more equitably fund our being used by states and
schools across the district schools. Would be helpful to districts across the country
by race and class. Scaling know what evidenced-based that have taken advantage of
bilingual education is practices can significantly ESSA to roll back the weight
another issue to ensure improve outcomes and what the of test scores in their
more families have access associated costs are. accountability plans in order
to its benefits for brain to encourage the kinds of
development, academic practices and cultural norms
performance, inclusion, we actually want to see in our
and equipping children with classrooms .
skills for a global and
diverse society.

need more oversight or All schools need more
transparency? MORE:​​ The District ESP. CHARTERS:
should be held accountable oversight. I plan to work closely Yes to both. I will advocate
to provide timely data in with DC Council, which has that charters be subject to
forms that are accessible oversight function of the FOIA and other transparency
and intuitive for the public. I schools, to make sure thoughtful requirements government
will do this by leveraging measures are in place that entities are subject to. I
federal and DC laws and increase transparency of our would also advocate for the
regulations for data schools. public release of data on
collection and reporting, teacher turnover in DCPS
meaningfully engaging the and the racial breakdown of
community for input and its teaching force.
feedback, and supporting
OSSE in the
implementation of
requirements for an
accountability system, as
well as flexible policy
options for further
identifying equity gaps.

How much testing is too  While I believe Standardized tests cannot I advocate dialing back the
much testing? How much  assessments should be capture the many qualitative weight of test scores on the
accountability should rely on  less high-stakes for attributes that make for great school report card to 55%
test?  individual teachers and schools and educators. While I and making up the difference
students, we should not believe some degree of with criteria that actually
abandon or dilute a standardized testing should be encourage the kinds of
district-wide means for retained as a tool and part of the practices and cultural norms
evaluating the progress of measurement and evaluation we want to see in our
students, breaking that process, it must be viewed as a schools. Criteria might
data down by race and part of a broader process. include teacher retention
other identifiers, using it to rates, retention of a diverse
examine the root causes of teaching staff, support for
equity gaps, and driving family engagement, and
hard decisions around social emotional indicators for
resources and students.
community-led solutions.

Fun Fact?  ALWAYS COOKING:​​ I grew up ON THE RADIO:​​ ​I wrote

watching my mom and and recorded a story for
RACING:​​ I have run 10 grandmothers cook and host WAMU about my experience
marathons, which honestly
family dinners. To keep the in Head Start experience
has prepared me for
tradition alive, I have friends
campaigning. I am finding
over every weekend for dinner.
so many parallels!

Ward 3 Candidates
Candidate Ruth Wattenberg Dora Currea

Amount Raised According $13,630.39 $12,663.00

to Oct. finance reports.

Are you currently satisfied  NO:​​ ​In order to improve YES:​​ ​Mayor control means
with the ​structure o
​ f Mayoral  that mayor is responsible for
research, data, and
control of schools?  bringing to bear all departments
overall policymaking (not
the day-to-day policy and and funded entities to deliver a
administration of the quality education. Council and
schools, which would voters should hold mayor
continue to be under the
mayor), the state
superintendent of
education should be
independent of—not
appointed by and
answerable to-- the

Are you currently satisfied  NO:​​ ​The SBOE is the YES:​​ ​SBOE's policy role
with the role of the State  should be made explicit in a
single elected body that
Board of Education? process whereby DME presents
deals exclusively with
education-- in a city for guidance and perhaps
where families and authorization an education plan
residents are often with policy goals and directives
(including programmatic
frustrated by their lack of
priorities currently only
a voice in
articulated by DCPS). This
decision-making about should set the context for the
our schools. Over time, it
makes sense to grow Master Facilities Plan and
SBOE authority, as a way budget choices.
of introducing greater
democratic input and
responsiveness into
education policymaking.

What is one of the biggest  OVERCROWDING​​: OVERCROWDING:

issues impacting students in  The greatest issue our Overcrowding is the issue for
your area and how do you  students face is that our Ward 3, but it has to be
plan to use the state board  addressed in the context of
schools are out of space!
seat to impact that.  improving quality and capacity
As the SBOE rep for
Ward 3, I have been utilization of facilities
deeply engaged in districtwide. SBOE is the ideal
working with our school venue for vetting the policy,
program, and capital investment
communities and DCPS
options in education.
to fully understand the
scope of the problem,
map out options, and
advocate for solutions.

Earlier this year the school QUALITY, GET TO ROOT

board did not approve a new
BREADTH AND CAUSES:​​ ​I applaud greater
policy the state
superintendent wanted to RIGOR:​​ ​An ideal credit flexibility for teachers and
implement regarding credit recovery policy would administrators to help students
recovery. In your opinion, assure that credit graduate. However, I agree that
what should the ideal credit recovery courses must be the vetting process with
recovery policy include? comparable in quality, stakeholders should be
breadth, and rigor to the thorough and that we need to
regular courses that they better understand the causes of
why students require credit
replace. Absent this
recovery in the first place.
assurance, the incentives
to push students into
credit recovery courses
so that they can be
pushed to
graduate—instead of
teaching them the skills
and subject matter they
need--will continue, and
we will face more
graduation scandals like
we just experienced.

Should schools have 5  YES, but:​​ ​The best YES:​​ ​Our students are used
star-ratings? to summative ratings in school
way to provide
families/residents/policym report cards. So whether stars
akers with an apples-to or letter grades, summative
apples way of comparing measures are meant to simplify
schools is to provide an evaluation of complex
transparent, separate
ratings for each school on
each of the key quality
issues: student progress
(arguably the most
important!), school
climate, well-rounded
education, and average
test score, etc. As it is,
the current 5-star rating
ignores key aspects of
school quality and then
mushes together those it
does consider into a
non-transparent rating,
which is hard to interpret
and not a reasonable
reflection of school

The School Board recently CURRICULUMS: SEVERAL TOPICS:

commissioned research into
First, there is more to do Areas for further analysis
teacher turnover. What other
around teacher turnover, stemming from STAR rating
topics should the board look
into and why? which I call “the canary in include: school climate, high
the classroom” because it school growth measures,
is a warning sign of other review of PARCC, and review
problems in our schools. of weights (growth vs
We need to learn what is achievement; at risk subgroup
causing it and what steps vs all students). The rating
should be taken to should help parents and
address it. Other teachers to identify gaps and
problems we should monitor progress to address
study include: 1) Whether them.
schools are providing
students with a full, broad
curriculum in
history/civics, science,
and the arts (not
narrowing it to mainly the
tested subjects of reading
and math) and 2) the
use/misuse of funds for
educating at-risk

Do charter schools or DCPS BOTH NEED BOTH NEED MORE:

need more oversight or
transparency? MORE:​​ ​The need for All LEAs need to be held
accurate, transparent accountable for delivering a
data is even greater in quality education. We are
our charter schools, closer to making this possible
which are not even now that the STAR ratings
subject to FOIA—and cover both DCPS and charter
were noted as a special schools with the same
concern for their lack of metrics. OSSE and the
data transparency in the Auditor are being
2015 evaluation of DC strengthened in their
schools conducted by the compliance roles to ensure
National Academy of data quality and integrity.
Sciences. I hope that the
new independent
research collaborative will
begin to address much of

How much testing is too  There should be a high As noted above regarding the
much testing? How much  quality end-of-year test in STAR ratings, there has been
accountability should rely on  multiple subjects. Beyond an effort to complement
test?  that, the large number of achievement metrics with
practice tests, test prep, growth to recognize
interim tests, etc. are improvement. There are also
clogging up the school other measures that are not
schedule and taking too based on testing in an effort to
much time from instruction.
capture the different
School accountability
dimensions of a quality
should rely on test score
progress—how much the education.
students have improved.

Fun Fact?  PIRATE CAT: ​Our cat  DANCING DREAMS:​​ ​I will

has 3 legs, which makes  be a dancer in my next life.
him a great mascot for 
Ward 3!

Ward 5 Candidates
Candidate Zachary Parker Adrian Jordan William “Bill” Lewis

Amount Raised According $44,944.03 $18,548.00 $650.00

to Oct. finance reports.

Are you currently satisfied  NO:​​ ​I believe our system NO:​​ ​I believe that politics does NO:​​ ​I believe that politics
with the ​structure of M
​ ayoral  should have checks and not belong in education. I am in does not belong in education.
control of schools?  balances, which are not support of changes that would I favor an independent
currently reflected in our see the Office of the State elected school board that will
current oversight Superintendent of Education impartially appoint the DCPS
structures. converted to an independent Chancellor and have
agency. Politics should not oversight over all public
impact education reporting and schools.
decisions and making OSSE
independent eliminates potential
political pressure.

Are you currently satisfied  NO:​​ ​As the only elected NO:​​ ​The Board should be NO:​​ ​I would like to see the
with the role of the State  State Board of Education be
education body, the State expanded to allow members
Board of Education? an elected board with ability
Board of Education of the SBOE to initiate policy
should have more versus simply vote on policy to make decisions, control its
influence and voting recommendations as own budget and be directly
authority over education presented by OSSE. As accountable to the city
residents that elect the board.
policy. elected representatives,
members have a direct line to
parents and stakeholders and
can move more quickly than

What is one of the biggest  POST-SCHOOL FUNDING:​​ ​The unlawful GRADUATION

issues impacting students in 
PREPARATION​​: ​Too use of at-risk funding, which COMPETENCY: ​I
your area and how do you 
many of our students are was designed to promote would use my position to
plan to use the state board 
seat to impact that.  graduating from our high equity in resources, must be advise and work within the
schools ill prepared for use as it is intended. The lack committee structure to
college or the career of of economic resources of a advocate for parent and
their choice. If elected, neighborhood should not student input early enough to
while on the Board, I will stand in the way of promoting make a difference.
continue to hone and quality education.
advocate for graduation
policies that place a
higher need on mastery
of content and provides
students the supports
necessary to succeed
after high school.

Earlier this year the school FLEXIBILITY AND IN-SEAT PROGRAMS AND
board did not approve a new
​ he ATTENDANCE:​​ ​More ACCESS:​​ ​An ideal credit
policy the state
ideal credit recovery robust community recovery policy should
superintendent wanted to
implement regarding credit policy should include engagement should have include the opportunity for
recovery. In your opinion, flexibility for students who been done to look at the issue students to have access to
what should the ideal credit have failed courses to completely. I agree that in District approved programs
recovery policy include? pursue alternative routes seat attendance should be a that enable students to attend
to demonstrate mastery evening and weekend
requirement for any level of
of content, rather than classes to learn subject
credit recovery.
being forced to sit in a matter and recover the credits
class he/she has already they need.
failed all year. There
should also be greater
consistency of programs
among LEAs.

Should schools have 5  YES, but: ​Given the YES:​​ ​I am fine with the star NO:​​ ​5 star ratings create an
star-ratings? hyper-focus on proficiency exclusionary environment that
rating system. Currently
test scores (and in high parents use several metrics potentially degrades a
school, the sole focus on (test scores, economic competing school that is not 5
proficiency test scores), indicators, 3rd party websites) star rated but meeting the
our school quality measure to rank and choose schools. social and economic needs of
conflates matters outside students.
Implementing this metric
of the control of the school
allows for an apples to apples
with student achievement. comparison of schools within
tiers. However with the star
rating, OSSE should
implement policy that schools
must also present turnaround
implementation plans to
provide parents and guardians
with additional information.

The School Board recently AT-RISK CREATING A TASK PARENT

commissioned research into
teacher turnover. What other FUNDING: ​At-risk FORCE: T​ he SBOE should ENGAGEMENT:
topics should the board look funding and the use of look into many of the Parent participation or lack of
into and why? at-risk funds by schools, recommendations of the cross parent involvement and
sector task force such as at-risk classroom behaviors
explicit and implicit racial preference points and proximity
bias in our schools, preferences.
factors surrounding
school attendance trends,
and principal/leader

need more oversight or
transparency? MORE:​​ ​To accomplish Both sectors need more MORE:​​ ​Public charter
this, I will continue to oversight in use of funding, schools need more
advocate for an use of at risk funding, transparency because they
independent research arm. ensuring that all schools follow are publically funded in the
I will advocate for fairness FOIA and open meeting laws, same manner as DC public
across systems and and the creation of a unified schools. I do not have a
continuously promote ways dashboard accessible to the singular answer but feel that
to make our system more public to promote removing mayoral oversight
transparent. transparency. would be a move in the right

How much testing is too  We need to revisit our Testing is a metric that can 20% accountability on
much testing? How much  assessment strategy in the provide insight into college standardized testing and 80%
accountability should rely on  District. Tests are valuable readiness. However, the sole accountability on classroom
test?  and provide useful focus in education should not instruction and projects
information to schools, be test preparedness. After seemingly would be a fairer
however, many of our academic environment for
the implementation of the star
schools are overwhelmed students and teachers.
rating we can further evaluate
with testing because there
is not a coherent results based on data and can
assessment strategy in make recommendations on
place across the District. the percentage of impact of
test scores.

Fun Fact?  KEEP IN TOUCH​​:​ I BACK IN MY SCHOOL:​​ I JOKES:​​ ​Humorous

still check in with one of my mentor and tutored in the same
former students every program that helped me as a
month to honor a high school student!
bet/challenge we created
when he was in my class to
keep him motivated. Until
he graduates from college
(2 years from now), I call
every month to tell him how
many days, hours,
minutes, and seconds he's
away from graduating, as
the first college grad in his
family. We've continued
this tradition since 2011.

Ward 6 Candidates
Candidate Jessica Sutter Joe Weedon
Amount Raised According $21,281.36 $15,447.13
to Oct. finance reports.

Are you currently satisfied  YES:​​ ​I support NO:​​ ​I support mayoral

with the ​structure o
​ f Mayoral 
continued Mayoral control control over DC Public
control of schools? 
of schools in the District. I Schools and the Public
think the education Charter School Board;
reforms of the past however, we need common
decade, including sense reforms to move us
expanding the supply of forward. This includes
public school options, are increasing accountability and
a direct result of mayoral transparency to ensure all
control and I think the students are served well in
current governance both sectors. I believe in the
structure will enable need for greater
future reforms to increase independence for the Office of
equity and opportunities the State Superintendent of
for all students. Education (OSSE) and in the
establishment of an
independent research
collaborative to help build
capacity to improve our

Are you currently satisfied  YES, but:​​ ​The SBOE NO:​​ ​The Board needs the
with the role of the State 
must be more proactive ability to compel state
Board of Education?
in advocating for agencies to respond to
state-level policies that requests for information and to
lead to educational equity initiate policy. These reforms
for all children in the align with the 2015 evaluation
District. The SBOE needs conducted by the National
to show the community Research Council of the
that it has a tangible National Academy of
impact on how schools Sciences, which called for
serve their children further reforms to ensure our
before it can reasonably state agency and state board
ask the community for are empowered to function as
permission to have more effective agencies.
authority over their
students and schools. 

What is one of the biggest  TIME AND MONEY ​: EQUITY:​​ ​I have and will
issues impacting students in  As a former teacher, I continue to utilize my position
your area and how do you  know that the biggest on the State Board of
plan to use the state board 
issue for District students, Education to advocate for all
seat to impact that. 
including those in Ward students in our city and to
6, is how we spend our increase pressure on our
most precious resources school system leaders to
to help them succeed: ensure all students receive
time and money. As a equitable opportunities for a
member of the State great education. By investing
Board of Education, I will wisely, we can empower
work to advocate for communities, reduce gaps,
more time to be spent on and increase achievement for
age-appropriate all students.
instruction and learning
opportunities and that
more money is spent at
the school level where it
can best impact students.

Earlier this year the school RIGOR AND GAINING MASTERY:​​ I

board did not approve a new joined my colleagues in
policy the state TRANSPARENCY: opposing the credit recovery
superintendent wanted to Credit recovery programs
policy because the proposal
implement regarding credit should have school-wide
failed to ensure that students
recovery. In your opinion, policies that describe and
were gaining mastery of core
what should the ideal credit govern them, including
course concepts. Whether
recovery policy include? setting them apart from
students gain credit through a
traditional experience,
education programs,
competency-based learning, or
should include courses that
credit recovery, we must ensure
are offered only after a
that they master key concepts
child failed to pass the
and that all students are held to
original complete course,
the same high standards.s.
should be equivalent in
content and rigor to the
original complete course,
and should be made
available to all students
with adequate supports for
them to succeed, including
students with identified
special education needs.

Should schools have 5  YES:​​ ​Since 2011, only YES, but:​​ ​The
star-ratings? half the District’s schools accountability plan adopted by
have been rated and our city has its limitations. It
ranked annually, allowing will feature a one-through-five
for public examination of star rating system for every
which charter schools were school that is based largely on
meeting expectations for
test scores and attendance
effectively serving
measures. Ultimately, I did not
students, and which were
not. We need that for all believe our city’s system
schools so that: a) moved far enough away from
policy-makers and test scores and attendance as
educators can see how the primary indicators of
schools are doing and school quality and I voted
make improvements; b) against the city’s plan.
parents and others can
compare all schools, not
just charter schools; and c)
we can improve report
cards over time and on the
same timeline with the
same data for DCPS and
public charter schools.


commissioned research into AND MORE:​​ ​Schools AND MORE:​​ ​The State
teacher turnover. What other
that show unusually high Board of Education has been
topics should the board look
academic growth and any proactive in pushing for
into and why?
practices/policy reforms, including our
conditions in such investigation into teacher
schools that can be turnover. While the
disseminated across the establishment of an
District; policies that can independent research
support greater school collaborative will remove
integration and take some of the need for the
advantage of existing Board to commission
school choice research, we need to look
infrastructure and the further into topics around
growing diversity of DC’s achievement gaps, how to
population; and build diverse schools, student
principal/school leader mobility, chronic absenteeism,
tenure and the and other issues.
conditions that help
create stable
environments for school
leaders to succeed.

Do charter schools or DCPS BOTH, BUT:​​ ​We BOTH NEED MORE:​​.

need more oversight or must ensure that schools Both sectors-- DCPS and
transparency? can balance the public public charter schools-- need
interest in access to data increasing accountability and
with their chief transparency to ensure all
responsibility for educating students are served well in
and caring for students;
both sectors. I support efforts
policy makers should
to ensure OSSE, our state
continue to find ways to
streamline data collection educational agency, is
and reporting across independent and I will
various District agencies so continue to work with the
school staff can focus on council to improve oversight.
serving students.

How much testing is too  As a former middle school I support the common core state
much testing? How much  teacher, I know that testing standards and believe that the
accountability should rely on  is essential to PARCC is as valid a measure of
test?  understanding what student achievement as other
students know...there are standardized tests that are
multiple ways to show that available for this purpose.
schools are serving their However, I believe that our city
students and I’d like to see places too much weight on
DC continue to explore standardized testing as a
innovative ways to assess measure of school success and
accountability for student as a result our schools spend
outcomes that are too much time on test
equitable and comparable preparation.
across schools.

Fun Fact?  UNUSUAL BATTER UP:​​ I'm a Capitol

EXPERIMENTS:​​ I​ Hill Little League coach.
loved using projects to get
my students excited about
history. Ask me about the
time I had 6th graders in
Los Angeles mummify
grocery store chickens or
7th graders in Chicago
paint Sistine Chapel murals
on the underside of their
desks a la Michelangelo.