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Carrie L. Thornhill, Mayoral nominee to the DC Board of Education
Testimony at the confirmation hearing by the Committee on Education, Libraries, and Recreation
June 11, 2003




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Carrie L. Thornhill Rolando A. Andrewn, American Lung Association
Josephine C. Baker, DC Public Charter School Board Kathy Chamberlain, ANC 7B
Carmella Mazzotta, Brenda Harvey, DC Voice Franklin Senger, Hillcrest Community Civic Association

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
1:00 P.M.

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 board members.

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 practicable;
  • 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 jurisdictions;
  • 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 norm.

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 improvement.

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 Columbia
Home of the DC Asthma Coalition

475 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001-2617
Phone: 202-682-5864
Fax: 202-682-5874
Email: info@aladc.org
Website: aladc.org

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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"Board of Education of the District of Columbia Carrie L. Thornhill Confirmation Resolution of 2003"
Testimony of
Josephine C. Baker, Executive Director
D.C. Public Charter School Board

It is with pleasure that I share my thoughts about Carrie Thornhill at this public roundtable.

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 community.

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
email: anc7b@pressroom.com
web: www.anc7b.org
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 appointment.

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PO. Box 73055, Washington, DC 20056 · 1328 Florida Ave. NW, 3rd FL, 20009 · Tel: 202/ 986-8535 · Fax: 202/ 238-0109 · dcvoice@dcvoice.org · www.dcvoice.org 

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Carmella Mazzotta, DC VOICE Executive Director
Brenda Harvey, Senior Associate

Nomination 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.

Please confirm 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 principals. 

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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"Working Together for a Better Community"
3319 Alabama Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20020 phone: (202) 582-1760

June 10, 2003

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 serving.

Pastor Franklin Senger, President HCCA

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