It has been an honor representing Ward 5 on the DC State Board of Education (SBOE). As I look to the Council, I write to share my endorsements for 2022 SBOE candidates that I hope are successful in the upcoming November 8th General Election.
The SBOE is DC's only duly elected educational body, with authority to approve:
DC's learning standards,
and our federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan.
The SBOE works alongside the Office of the State Superintendent's Office (OSSE) to advance educational policy and represent the interests of DC students, parents, and educators. Composed of one elected member from each ward and one at-large member, the SBOE now includes up to four appointed student representatives. Each one of the candidates I'm endorsing has a proven track record of public service, a demonstrated commitment to local education, and exemplifies servant leadership that will advance the SBOE.
Robert Henderson, Ph.D. — Ward 5 Candidate for the State Board of Education
Many have asked me who I am supporting to succeed me on the SBOE. I'm endorsing Robert Henderson to serve as your next Ward 5 SBOE representative. He is a father of two public school students, the husband of an educator, and a housing policy researcher. We've worked together on numerous education initiatives, including restarting Ward 5's Education Council, where he now serves as Vice Chair. I am supporting Robert because he's been at the nexus of advocacy and education policy in Ward 5 for years, which has equipped him with the know-how to improve the functions of the SBOE. Robert's insight into local educational matters and experience on the ground in our schools is unmatched by any other Ward 5 candidate. That's why I believe Robert is best positioned to advocate for the needs of all of our students and families.
Robert worked with Browne Education Campus to ensure students had access to safe, reliable play spaces, navigating mazes of bureaucracy to get the school's playground cleared of debris. And he helped me deliver school supplies to the Social Justice School, Noyes Elementary School, Wheatley Education Campus, and others at the height of the pandemic because DC didn't have a 1:1 student-to-computer policy. In addition, Robert led the effort to gather feedback on DC's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan Amendment from Ward 5 residents. Most recently, he's been sharing school HVAC concerns with the DC Council as supply chain issues have dragged on for another school year. I'm confident that Robert will serve Ward 5 honorably and effectively, and I'm glad to see that other trusted voices agree. Robert is supported by The Washington Teachers' Union, my predecessor on the SBOE, Mark Jones, educators like Dr. Louise Jones, former principal of McKinley Tech, and proven education advocates like Theodora Brown, Raenelle Zapatta, Charlotte Lewis, and so many others. Join us in supporting Robert.
Joshua Wiley — Ward 6 Candidate for the State Board of Education
Joshua is a former teacher and current assistant principal at Whittier Elementary School. Like many Ward 6 families, Joshua has experience in both the charter and DCPS sectors. He brings insight from working in both charter schools east of the river and now serving as a DCPS administrator, and provides a perspective not currently offered on the SBOE. Earlier this year, Councilmembers Janeese Lewis-George and Charles Allen passed legislation making it possible for DCPS employees to serve on the SBOE. Before that legislation, DCPS educators were precluded from serving due to the HATCH Act, although charter school personnel were allowed to serve. Should he be elected, Joshua Wiley would be the first DCPS employee to serve on the SBOE.
Moreover, Joshua will increase Black LGBTQ+ representation on the SBOE and provide an invaluable mirror for many of our students and educators. I support Joshua because I have witnessed his passion for building a more just education system in DC. His experience will help sharpen the SBOE's advocacy, policy, and effectiveness. What's more, he won't just talk about parent engagement as a nice-to-have. It's something he practices every day as a current DC educator and that he will live by as a member of the SBOE. Joshua's lived and work experiences will make him a great addition to the SBOE. The Washington Teachers' Union, SBOE Ward 8 Member Carlene Reid, SBOE Student Member Liv Birnstad, and many others support Joshua. I hope you'll join us.
Ben Williams — Ward 1 Candidate for the State Board of Education
benforward1.com Ben is a nationally certified teacher with deep experience with standards and curricula implementation. He has organized with teachers and families across the city to fight for legislation to fund pipelines for teachers of color and remove barriers preventing Latino/a educators from entering the classroom. Ben is no stranger to the SBOE, as he has testified before the SBOE numerous times over my tenure. He is also backed by my colleague Emily Gasoi, the current Ward 1 SBOE member, and Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau. This tells me that those responsible for guiding education policy in Ward 1 trust that Ben will move the work forward for all families. I am supporting Ben because I trust that he will contribute to the growing role of the SBOE within DC's education ecosystem. As a teacher, advocate, and organizer, Ben has proven his commitment to DC students, families, and communities time and time again. I hope you will join me in supporting Ben to serve as the next Ward 1 SBOE representative. Ben has worked hard for justice in our city — inside and outside the classroom — and I am excited to work with him as a future leader on the SBOE. In addition to Ward 1 leadership, he is supported by the Washington Teachers' Union, At-Large Councilmember Robert White, and so many others. Join us in supporting Ben.
Together, these candidates will move the SBOE and the District forward. Please consider donating and volunteering to help get them elected.