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What Is DCWatch?
Carrie L. Thornhill's Testimony
Before the Committee on Education, Libraries and Recreation
Council of the District of Columbia
The Honorable Kevin Chavous, Chairman
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Good afternoon Honorable Chairman Chavous and esteemed members of the
Committee. As I indicated in my nomination acceptance, I consider the
prospect of serving my city in the role of member of the board of
education an endeavor of high calling, privilege and public trust. Should
the City Council see fit to approve my nomination; I pledge to you that I
will do all that I can to advance the best interests of all the children,
youth, families and neighborhoods of the city by striving to govern our
most important education institution as a full partner with my fellow
I pledge to work together with all the members of the board and with
the Superintendent, Mayor and City Council in the common cause of ensuring
dramatic achievement in student and school performance.
What is the value added I potentially bring to this proposition? I am
guided by a set of principals, values and strategies which say that I:
- Recognize the city's children and youth as our most valuable
resource and important investment; and that they receive the full
range of opportunities and services they need to grow into healthy,
happy, productive and successful adults and life long learners;
- Embrace the primary ends of the board and system's work to be; a
well-educated, skilled workforce; systemic and tangible improvements
in student achievement, sustained over time; and accelerated wherever
- Require that the entire community (elected officials, parents, faith
based groups, civic, philanthropic, business and community
organizations) share responsibility for supporting a high quality
public education system in the District and by demanding quality
performance from the Board of Education;
- Ensure that all schools, students and families in the District
receive fair and equitable treatment and maximum choice;
- Respect the role of the Superintendent as the CEO who is to be held
accountable for achieving education goals set by the Board;
- Include active parent, family, and community involvement in local
school governance as an essential element while supporting the
promotion of high standards of learning, teaching, educational
leadership and accountability and quality assurance roles by the
central administration of DCPS;
- Be guided by research and data and replicating what works in DCPS,
public charter and private schools in the city and other comparable
- Get the fundamentals and basics right; ensuring that all of our
children and youth read, speak, and compute well as soon as possible;
all staff and particularly teachers are paid on time and receive
adequate supports to be effective in the classroom; sufficient text
books and materials get to schools promptly; parents and community are
welcomed as partners and collaborators in local schools and central
offices; ensure that school buildings are maximally used as community
facilities; and that responsible budgeting and spending becomes the
Further, I am dedicated to the well being and continuous improvement of
the city as a whole and of under-performing children, youth, families,
schools and neighborhoods in particular. My friends and colleagues tell me
that I am fearless of complexity, that I understand and value
relationships, collaboration and partnerships -- and that I am effective
at it across diverse sectors.
I have three priority policy areas upon which I wish I intend to focus
my energies. They are: 1) accelerating the pace of quality reform at the
school and neighborhood level; 2) ensuring that quality teaching and
instructional leadership is taken to scale in classrooms and school
buildings across the city; and 3) promoting the development and
maintenance of strong relationships, communication and coordination
between government, schools and community.
What motivates me to accept this unique opportunity for continued
public service? I believe that public service is the price that one pays
for citizenship. Such service is easy when things are going well. It is
not so easy to accept such service when the vision is clear but the policy
map to the goal of quality education for all our children has yet to be
drawn clearly. More importantly, it is a challenge that requires faith in
ones fellow members; in the Executive branch and in the legislative branch
that ultimately appoints you to the board. I know that we all want the
best for our children. I know that we are all frustrated by the pace of
I firmly believe that I can assist in creating a new culture of
civility and cooperation that is much needed at all levels of the school
system. I also believe that my colleague and I will bring added focus to
the vital issues surrounding governance level accountability.
While I know and understand some things about the board and DCPS,
believe me I also know that I don't begin to know enough. Be assured I
will immerse myself and become an engaged and informed member. I pledge to
do all I can to catalyze and support efforts by the board of education to
become a high performing organization -- so as to more effectively support
the accomplishment of the strategic business plan. I enthusiastically
embrace the mission: "to develop inspired learners who excel
academically and socially in dynamic schools -- that instill confidence
and generate enthusiasm throughout the District's many diverse communities
and make DC Public Schools the first choice of parents, youth and
families." While DCPS has obviously shown improvement in the last few
years, we have still not reached the point where we can celebrate more
than isolated instances of excellence. We can and we must do all of the
everyday operations flawlessly. And we must have the kind of leadership
team that allows nothing less than everyday excellence.
I firmly commit myself and my network to that end and I promise you
that, if confirmed, I will expect you to hold me accountable.
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AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION of the District of
Home of the DC Asthma Coalition
475 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001-2617
Good afternoon distinguished members of the Council of
the District of Columbia. My name is Rolando A. Andrewn, Chief Executive
Officer of the American Lung Association of the District of Columbia and I
am here today to testify in favor of Carrie Thornhill's appointment to the
District's Board of Education.
We know Carrie Thornhill to be a qualified candidate
for the position on the Board of Education because of her passion for
improving the quality of life for the children and youth in the District.
She was instrumental in establishing the youth project
W.A.Y Too Cool To Smoke initiative. The American Lung Association of DC
has collaborated with W.A.Y Too Cool To Smoke in a number of projects such
as the World No Tobacco Day and World Asthma Day.
She also has played a significant role in helping develop the TobaccoFree
Action Partnership of the District of Columbia, a coalition addressing
policy issues concerning tobacco. In these ways, she continues to show her
support and leadership in accomplishing the organization's mission.
We know Ms. Thornhill for her exemplary commitment to
youth issues as well as her work in the faith-based community at Mt.
Carmel Baptist Church where she is a member of the Board of Trustees. In
the year 2001, Ms. Thornhill led the search for the selection of Pastor
Joseph Evans. She has a multi-faceted approach to improving quality of
life for the children of the District.
We look forward to her continued leadership and her
presence on the Board of Education as we strive forward to a healthy and
positive future for the children of the District of Columbia.
We, at the American Lung Association of the District of Columbia are
certain that we can count on Ms. Thornhill as a strong ally and look
forward to her continued support as we move to institutionalize our
programs and services within the DC Public Schools, these include Open
Airways for Schools - our premier Asthma Management Program, Tools for
Schools - an EPA Program to assess the indoor air quality in schools as
well as Not-On-Tobacco, an effective cessation program for teenagers.
We believe that by appointing Ms. Carrie Thornhill to
the Board of Education that the future of the children of the District of
Columbia will never be compromised. We believe in Ms. Thornhill's
leadership and support her appointment to the Board of Education and would
like to take this opportunity to urge for the Council's support as well.
Again, thank you for allowing us to provide this testimony.
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COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, LIBRARIES
It is with pleasure that I share my thoughts about Carrie Thornhill at
this public roundtable.
PUBLIC ROUNDTABLE ON
"Board of Education of the District of Columbia Carrie L. Thornhill
Confirmation Resolution of 2003"
Josephine C. Baker, Executive Director
D.C. Public Charter School Board
The recollection of my first encounter with Carrie was on a trip to the
Middle East. Carrie served as a member of the Board of Governors of Wesley
Theological Seminary. Trustees were encouraged to participate in immersion
experiences to better understand the training that students of the
Seminary would need to meet the needs of the many cultures in our society
and the world. On this trip we experienced the passion from both the
Palestinian and Israeli perspectives but we also learned about who we
ourselves are. Carrie was obviously a person who cared about the plight of
others; she also showed great adaptability as we visited both Palestinian
refugee camps and Israeli cities. This and other experiences give her a
deep understanding of the human need in both the immediate and larger
Her commitment to community is exemplified in many ways. In 1997, she
was part of the group that was organized to identify individuals for the
pool that would be recommended to the Mayor to establish a new chartering
authority for charter schools. It was obvious that Carrie took this
assignment seriously and that underlying her commitment was her concern
for the well being of children. She was also involved in the establishment
of Neighborhood College, a training process to develop leadership skills
and create networks of people who project a broader view of things.
Carrie Thornhill has the benefit of many experiences that make her an
excellent choice for this appointment. One that quickly comes to mind is
her chairing of the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). The BZA is one of
the most critical zoning entities in Washington, DC. It handles difficult
and important cases that shape the real estate development of the city.
Members of the BZA are often targets of the wrath of citizens who oppose
controversial cases. Carrie's enviable skill in conflict resolution made
her an effective leader of this critical body. My immediate community
benefited from the careful consideration given to the effects of proposals
for business expansion.
Her focus in youth education and community building is evident in much
of what she does today. She is an ardent participant in the Youth
Investment Council that supports her long-term interest in youth education
and community building. At DC Agenda she has been the organizer of
seminars designed to develop strategies for support of programs that
promote teacher quality.
Carrie Thornhill will contribute talent and commitment. Her interest in
and dedication to quality teaching and learning will make her an asset to
the DC Public School Board.
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Advisory Neighborhood Commission. 7B
District of Columbia Government
3200 S Street, $.E, Washington, DC 20020
phone: (202) 584-3400 fax (202) 584-3420
June 10, 2003
Memorandum To: Ward 7 Councilmember Kevin P. Chavous
From: Kathy Chamberlain, Chair, ANC 78
Subject: Statement of Support for PR 15-218 Board of Education of the
District of Columbia Carne L Thornhill Confirmation Resolution of 2003
This is a statement of strong support for the appointment of Carrie
Thornhill to the Board of Education. Regretfully ! am unable to afford the
confirmation hearing on June 11, 2003 but ask that this statement become
part of the official record.
Residents of the District of Columbia are fortunate that Ms. Thornhill
has accepted this appointment to the Board of Education. Not only is she
highly qualified, but she has long exhibited a commitment to quality
public education in the District, and she has worked tirelessly toward
this end. Her credentials which speak for themselves will not be repeated
here for sake of brevity, but they say volumes about her qualifications
and energy. Ms. Thornhill has been an ardent community activist in the
District for over 40 years, beginning with a solid education at the D.C.
Teacher's College. The focus of her entire career has been on youth,
education, and community building. The numerous positions she has held,
the many programs she has initiated, and her involvement in community are
dear proof that she is no stranger to hard work. She is the ideal
appointment to the Board.
On a more local level, I have known Ms. Thornhill for about 10 years,
primarily as a neighbor and member of the Hillcrest Community Civic
Association where she serves as Chair of the Education Committee. She has
made it her business to connect our civic association to the schools in
our area, setting up programs for residents to tour the 3 elementary
schools in our neighborhood, and encouraging participation in neighborhood
affairs by the officials of these schools. She understands the importance
of connecting schools with community and vice versa. As an HCCA Board
member, she participates in discussion of most issues brought to the
table. She is a neighborhood treasure--a level-headed leader with a knack
for problem-solving. On controversial issues, she has the unique ability
to build consensus white standing her ground. She has high moral standards
and is respected by all in our community.
Ms. Thornhill long ago recognized that the future of the city depends
on the quality of education being given to today's youth, and has worked
tirelessly toward that goal. Her experience has given her an acute
understanding of the problems of the D.C. Public School System and the
complexities involved in solving these problems. She knows many of the
DCPS leaders, advocates, parents, principals, and other School Board
members, and can hit the ground running.
It is difficult to imagine anyone more qualified for this appointment
than Carrie Thornhill. The Council should feel honored to confirm her
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Box 73055, Washington, DC 20056 · 1328 Florida Ave. NW, 3rd FL, 20009 ·
Tel: 202/ 986-8535 · Fax: 202/ 238-0109 · firstname.lastname@example.org
VOICE TESTIMONY BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
KEVIN CHAVOUS, CHAIR
June 11, 2003
Carmella Mazzotta, DC VOICE Executive Director
Harvey, Senior Associate
of Carrie Thornhill to Board of Education
Good afternoon. My name is Carmella Mazzotta. I am the executive
director of DC VOICE (District Community Voices Organized and Informed for
Change in Education). We are an education reform collaborative of parents,
teachers, youth, administrators, policy makers and community based
organizations and other activists who believe that an engaged and informed
public that holds the schools and the city accountable for the education
of our youth is necessary for real change to occur. Through public
engagement, policy change and support for effective practices, DC VOICE
seeks system wide change to assure quality teaching for every child.
On behalf of our diverse and active collaborative, I am here to urge your
confirmation of Carne Thornhill to the Board of Education. Carrie is well
informed about conditions in the schools and what they need to serve our
children better. She has a long and effective record of service on issues
affecting our youth, including: the supports needed for quality teaching,
out-of-school time programming, and building schools as community anchors
with appropriate and effective wrap around services. We know that Carrie
will bring the same deep commitment and seriousness she has shown in the
past to the work of the Board of Education. We know that she will be a
team player, and that she will bring a sense of urgency for change so that
all children achieve at the highest levels.
As one of the founding members of DC VOICE and in the past few years, as a
member of our governing body, Carrie has played a key role in focusing our
work, particularly in involving the community in our work to promote
quality teaching for all children. With her help, we have become one of
eight sites in the country funded by the Ford Foundation's Collaborating
for Education Reform Initiative, and currently we are one of only five
sites in the nation funded by the Annenberg Foundation through the Public
Education Network Teacher Quality Initiative.
Carrie Thornhill for the position of member of the Board of Education.
It is a big leap for our children if you do so.
Good afternoon. My name is Brenda N. Harvey and I am the senior
associate for systems and policy implementation at DC VOICE.
Carrie Thornhill, has made an invaluable contribution to the progress of
DC VOICE to move a citywide agenda that supports quality learning and
teaching to the forefront of local education discourse. In spring 2000
DC VOICE in collaboration with steering committee member Mrs. Thornhill,
Vice President of DC Agenda, convened a group concerned about quality
teaching and the supports necessary to achieve it in Washington; DC. The
group became the Supports for Quality Teaching (SQT) Task Force,
developed a SQT framework and began the leaderships of a
community-driven process that envisioned a highly effective and highly
regarded teaching corps to ensure excellence in student and school
performance. Carrie has the strength of character and the commitment to
all the city's children to bring divergent collaborators together around
the belief that a comprehensive system of supports will enable teachers
to make long-term impact on student performance and learning.
For two years the SQT Task Force, under Carrie's leadership grew to
include many stakeholders committed to the pursuit of highly effective
teaching; the group included DCPS administrators, local education CBOs,
Teach for America, The New Teacher Project, WTU, a local funder,
national organizations, and city officials. During 20012002 four
citywide forums were held that promoted a cohesive message: everyone in
this city is responsible and accountable for ensuring quality teaching
and high school perf performance. The four forums were designed to focus
this message to a different part participant group each time: policy
makers, universities, local funders, and senior high school 1
Last year the Task Force became the SQT Policy Advisory Group (PAG) for
DC VOICE and continues to lead the charge for teaching excellence
through a public process to analyze and influence policy development.
Carrie as co-convener and leader of the PAG helps us to keep a steady
focus on the goals of SQT addressing each element through the lens of
policy discourse and recommendations.
Is Carrie Thornhill the right person for the job? YES. Without
hesitation DC VOICE endorses Carrie Thornhill's confirmation to the DCPS
Board of Education. Why? It's simple: she'll get the job done--and done
well. We at DC VOICE hope that her leadership over the past three years
in building citywide bridges of support for quality teaching and
learning will make Carrie Thornhill a natural consideration for the
appointment to co-chair the Committee on Teaching and Learning -- a serious
connection for meaningful change that will strengthen that committee's
hard work in making learning and teaching the priority for the District
of Columbia families. Thank you.
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HILLCREST COMMUNITY CIVIC ASSOCIATION
June 10, 2003
"Working Together for a Better
3319 Alabama Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20020
phone: (202) 582-1760
Council Member Kevin Chavous
Chair, Committee on Education, Recreation and Libraries
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., 5th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20003
Dear Councilmember Chavous,
The Hillcrest Community Civic Association (HCCA)
strongly supports Mayor Williams' nomination of Carrie Thornhill to the
D.C. Board of Education.
We submit this strong endorsement because we know Carrie
and her commitment to this city and its children in particular. Carrie has
not only been active in her church and many organizations throughout the
city, she is also a valuable, active and committed member of our
community. A longtime member of the HCCA and member of the HCCA Board of
Directors, Carne is the chair of our Education Committee. In this
capacity, she has worked hard to establish strong ties with the
community's 3 elementary schools-Randle Highland, Winston and Anne Beers.
Carrie has many characteristics necessary to make her an
outstanding member of the Board of Education but we want to mention three
in particular. Carrie works well with all people and is an excellent
facilitator. Recently, her considerable facilitation skills were exhibited
last month, when the HCCA held a highly successful forum on economic
development plans for the east of the river community and Ward 7 in
particular. With an overflow crowd in attendance and several city
officials, including you, Council member Chavous, on the panel, Carne
skillfully negotiated the discussion as well as audience questions. In
facilitating group discussion, she has the ability to efficiently handle
discussions, ask tough questions, and get to the heart of complex matters.
Other notable characteristics are her strong analytical
ability and her ability to remain true to her principles. She carefully
considers difficult topics, coming to well-considered decisions. She will
then articulate her position well and logically. We have also watched and
admired Carries ability to remain true to her principles. She stands by
her principles, strongly defending them skillfully and often in the face
of opposition. When she disagrees with someone, it is on principle, not
because of a personality conflict.
It is for these reasons the HCCA strongly supports the
nomination of Carrie Thornhill to the D.C. Board of Education. We believe
she is not only well qualified for the position but that she will be a
valuable asset and a role model for the children and parents she will be
Pastor Franklin Senger, President HCCA