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John Foy Lord, Candidate for
District 2 School Board Representative in the
November 7, 2000, General Election

Parents United for DC Public Schools questionnaire, October 2000

* I believe the most pressing problem facing the schools today is the recruitment and retention of quality instructors. As a member of the Board I would urge my colleagues to support a proposal to be sent to the city council to greatly enhance the scope and quality of resources available to address this permanent challenge. I have created the outline for an "academic headhunter" program, and this rough draft protocol has been vetted by several men and women who are currently involved in the system and whom I know and admire.

* No great specific goal can be accomplished unless and until the board manages to re-forge a solid, efficient, collegial, and prudential working compact. Having served in a senior administrative capacity in higher education for more than a decade, I understand the special strains, nuances, and textures that inform every group effort toward change. I believe that I have learned how to achieve consensus without sacrificing principle. I have stated at several of our recent candidate fora that I will be inviting all aspirants to school board service--successful and otherwise--to come to my home on Thanksgiving Friday to enjoy a meal and forge an ongoing working alliance of school advocates. I deeply hope that those of us who are not successful in our bid to become members of the Board do not as a result abandon their stated commitment to be part of the group the "renaissance" team. Every woman and man seeking to serve on the new board has a vested interest in its' ability to jettison the acrimony and backbiting that have characterized too many of its' recent efforts. I believe that we should take sure and timely steps to include in the rebuilding process that is about to begin (all) of those who have sought to serve.

* Another priority will be to enhance the role that our schools play as neighborhood community centers. In this vain, I believe that we must vastly increase the resources available to support high school students who are also parents. As you know, the need to care for one's children (for those of a relative or friend) is one of the primary contributing factors to the dropout rate. Further in this vain, I believe the institution of universal city wide pre-K programs will serve several purposes--In the first instance, these programs have clearly been shown to benefit those students to whom there are made available. Secondly, universal pre-K will, at least in some cases, also allow high school students to remain in classes where they would otherwise have to channel their energy elsewhere.

As to the role of parents: There is a fine line that must be walked between effective and responsible involvement and advocacy with regard to ones' childs' education and the sort of nattering micromanagement which is distracting and burdensome to already over-extended educators and ultimately counterproductive. It is difficult if not impossible to craft a policy statement that might concisely embrace the variegated rights and responsibilities that attach to parents at the moment of their kids' entry into the system. I hope there is time for a longer discussion of this question at a later date. (And, of course, we all know that Thanksgiving leftovers taste better the next day anyway.) Might you be able to make it?

* The LSRT process is one that I have only recently become involved with as a parent. I am astounded at the shear mass of information that affective decision making in this realm requires. Until I know more about it, I will not presume to waste your time with my neophyte impressions. However, that having been said, I know that the skills I have acquired in a long career in academic budget administration are well developed and eminently fungible. (I also presume myself to be a quick study)

* As to facility planning: The notion of spending one billion dollars (or perhaps a billion and a half, as per some of Mr. Vance's recent statements) is, to say the least, daunting. I am not yet intimately informed as to the critical minutiae of the budget and its' various line items. At the moment the best I can do is to offer an asseveration of good faith, competence and alacrity in getting up to speed on these issues. If you considered it a prudent use of your organizations' time to consult with those senior administrators who are most able to offer a candid assessment of my ability to quickly get my mind around an issue and form a plan of action, I would be pleased to provide contact information.

* Personal involvement: On the Tuesday after Labor Day I became (vested) in the DC public school system. My period of "vestedness" God willing, will last through the Spring of the year 2013, when my younger daughter will graduate (with honors) from a public high school. Like many other overextended but not generally apathetic "stakeholders" in the District of Columbia, I had long maintained the untenable position that my lack of a direct and compelling nexus to the public schools exempted me from any proactive responsibility for working toward their necessary betterment.

I was wrong.

My wife is a foreign national and works for an NGO; as a result, I had always assumed that, when the time came, we would take advantage of the World Bank's incredible tuition benefit program.

It's a long story, but the execution of officer Gibson at the intersection of Missouri and Georgia several years ago changed forever my view of my duties as a D.C. citizen and patriot. Now I really live here. I now run a non-profit organization just doors from that intersection--It's called KIDSFIRST. Tomorrow evening, several doors further down, directly south and contiguous to the Emory Park fire station, I will host the grand opening of THE FIRE HOUSE GALLERY. The gallery will soon become a vital and permanent fixture in this corner of Petworth--We will offer each weekend a full repertoire of arts, education, and recreation programs for neighborhood kids. Recently, my wife was offered a position as Director of the Levine Schools early childhood bilingual music education program--Instead of offering her services and programs in that venue, we will do so at the gallery. This first endeavor is designed for children between the ages of three and five, and is called the MUSIC ZOO. More programs of this nature will soon follow.

Twenty years ago I worked for Kevin White when he was mayor of Boston. I learned machine politics from the MasTer and I abhor them. When asked over the years whether I would ever enter the political arena in my own right, I always stated that it would not happen unless and until I knew in my bones that I loved my constituency. Now I know that in my bones. I am running for school board because I am an accomplished academic administrator and believe that I can be of great service.

It is time to build bridges and mend fences. I would like to be part of the architectural team that creates this new and necessary community construct. Thank you for your consideration.

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