I am starting this website as a campaign for new and better ideas because the time has come to do something about the state of our school system in D.C. -- and it's going to take our whole community to change things. It's going to take the mobilization of all of our networks and resources to force the system to change.
And that's why I'm running for School Board President.
The next School Board chief shouldn't be more of the same, because what we have today isn't working. We need a bold shift toward quality learning -- and it will take more than lip service to do it. It will take a children's crusade, uniting people from all sides in a common purpose to halt the slide of our school system and move it in a new direction.
I ask you -- why is it that the D.C. school system has poorly connected to the commercial, civic and artistic elements of Washington? The answer is that reaching out has been alien to the people who have run the school system for the past generation? They live in a hot house world all to itself. Today's graduates are tomorrow's citizens and artists, as well as the workforce here in D.C., and yet few partnerships to invest in training and skills-building to match the needs of D.C.'s future have been tried in earnest. More surprisingly to me, the larger community has never been really asked in a big way to come in and sit at the table for policy discussions on the future of public education.
Our metropolitan area boasts one of the Nation's highest overall rates of college graduates and has some of the highest work requirements, and it is only second to Silicon Valley in technology growth. Yet D.C. is the doughnut hole in the region's burgeoning high-tech industries. With a third of adults in D.C. functionally illiterate, they cannot be part of this new economy. Our prisons are full of young men who had little alternative to crime - no skills, no jobs, no hope. Meanwhile D.C. businesses are always looking to Maryland and Virginia and beyond for their manpower resources because the local development of talent is inadequate.
With the superintendent already retooling and connecting the dots within the system, the School Board needs to look beyond just the dots to anticipate the future. They need to energize the public around emerging technologies, commercial trends and new workforce requirements that demand priority attention in the face of both national and international competition. The school system is supposed to be an integral part of D.C.'s development and culture. You wouldn't know that if you looked at how it is being run today.
It's time you and me talked about changing this. And I'll tell you why we need to talk now, in this critical election year of 2006.
The November 2006 election of the School Board President can well be the most important in memory because in the coming years, we are set for a windfall of a billion dollars in Tobacco Trust Funds, as well as hundred of millions in new baseball revenues for education, including a new city community college. It is also a moment of transition for the D.C. School Board system to a fully elected body.
These two factors make the 2006 election an important year of transition. If we have more of the same elected to run the School Board, we can see this new infusion of resources lost as a gateway to the future.
But if we mount a movement for change, based on clear principles that make sense, and which rally the community, then we have a chance to not only change the school system but save our children. We have the chance to assure the health of our city, its neighborhoods, and give greater hope to young people. It all starts with the schools, but it must not end there.
Let the campaign begin!