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for Board of Education At-Large
Dear fellow Washingtonian:
I am running for the Board of Education (At-Large) because I think that I have the ability and the experience to make a difference and because there is no job more importance for the future of this city that I love.
I make three pledges to you:
Parents are the key: No school can be exemplary without involving parents actively. We have to make PTAs and LSRTs (Local School Restructuring Teams) work.
The best teachers are the only ones good enough for our children: We need to pay competitive salaries to attract the best teachers in the region, and we need to weed out the teachers and staff who not worth these improved salaries. We must never again resort to furloughs to solve budget problems.
Class size: We need to put our resources into the classroom. The best measure of our success here will be student-teacher ratio, or class size. For elementary school, the student teacher ratio should be steadily decreased to a goal of 15:1; for the upper grades, 18:1 or fewer should be the goal.
Downtown has to do its lob: We must have efficiency in administration: we need accurate and timely information on personnel, the student count, and budget.
Program Diversity: Lets learn from our world-class successes: Banneker, Bell, Ellington, Oyster, Walls, and the other great DCPS schools that work. Our school system must foster diversity: programs that emphasize the arts, Montessori programs, language-teaching and bilingual programs, and so on. Schools that draw students and parents from across their boundaries help knit our city together.
Charter Schools Vouchers: Charter schools are an experiment program, not a magic wand. We must ensure that charter schools are well planned, that they work, and that they do not divert crucial resources from the regular schools. I do not support voucher programs.
Testing: We need standards for evaluating the success of the schools. But passing tests is not an education, and standardized tests cannot play their legitimate role in evaluating our schools when we teach to the tests, rather than teaching a well-planned curriculum.
Buildings: It is penny-unwise and pound-foolish to postpone maintenance of our physical plant. Decisions about closing schools can only be made in the context of a master plan. This plan must say what size schools should be (for example, that 300-350 students is the right size of an elementary school) and what kind of space we need (for example, that the faddish "open-space" plan schools are a failure.)
Special needs students: Our failure in delivering legally mandated services to our special-needs students is a scandal. And in this area, reforms would save the system money.
Responsibility & Cooperation: I am not a lawyer or a football player. I am not out to beat the other side. I am a musician: and I know how a musical ensemble works when it makes beautiful music. That is my model for the way we must make our educational institutions work.
Accountability: The elected Board of Education is the right institution to control our schools. Only the elected Board can be held accountable by the taxpayers and voters of this city. The members of the Board elected this year will be on the Board when in the worst-case scenario the current emergency trustees are disbanded in June, 2000. I oppose giving the mayor greater power over the schools. Any mayor.
Arts: It will be my special privilege to promote the arts in education. I have seen what the arts can do to bring students to life.
Resident... of Washington since I entered Howard University as a freshman.
Proud Mother... of Stephanie, a graduate of Janney Elementary, Deal Junior High, and the School Without Walls.
Employed... as House Manager for the University of the District of Columbia (since 1993).
Previously Employed... as Program Coordinator for the Washington Parent Group Fund (1994-96); as House Manager for Studio Theatre (1993-94); as Technical Assistance Representative for the D.C. Public Schools Office of Parental Involvement (1990-92); as Resource Development & Communications Specialist for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts (1985-90); as box office administrator for Folger Shakespeare Theatre and for Ford's Theatre (1982-85)....
Secret Life... as a singer and producer....
Community Activist... in my own neighborhood Brookland in Ward 5; in the D.C. Statehood Party (currently, as Vice-Chair); as a member of U.D.C. Advocates/+; with the Congressional Black Caucus; as the Public Relations Chair of the D.C. Congress of Parent Teacher Organizations (1994)....
Arts Activist... as founding Chair (1995) of the D.C. Arts Education Foundation; as member of the Arts & Humanities Committee of the D.C. Public Schools; as Education Chair of the Friends of Carter Barron (1991-95); as member of the Advisory Board of WPFW-FM, Pacifica Radio; as organizing Chair of the Friends of Market 5 Gallery; as member (1992-95) of the D.C. Community Coalition for Arts Education; as a board member of District Curators, Friends of the Rep, Inc., &c. &c.
Gail Dixon is ail that a citizen should be, honest, concerned, involved, and passionately just. I can think of no more dedicated citizen to undertake the work of the school board in the District of Columbia than Ms. Dixon. She is the kind of activist who will appeal to and enlist the best thinking and energy of the larger community.
Maurice G. Eldridge
Gail Dixon thinks clearly and works collaboratively.
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