At last Monday night’s education forum, Andy Shallal turned in his best public performance yet, easily winning the first face-off with Mayor Vincent Gray and five other mayoral candidates. From the outset at the forum on public education in the District, Andy was sharp – energized by the packed crowd of more than 250 teachers, education advocates and community leaders.
When the candidates were introduced, there was a smattering of polite applause for most of them. But when the moderator, Elizabeth Davis, president of the Washington Teachers Union, announced Andy, a wave of loud cheers and applause rippled across the Eastern High School auditorium.
It was a rough night for Mayor Gray, who was interrupted often when he tried to answer questions. Meanwhile, Andy nearly brought the crowd to its feet with his opening statement, stressing, “Washington is becoming a tale of two unequal cities, and the public’s voice is being drowned out. I am the only progressive candidate in the race who will tackle head-on the issues of race and inequality.”
None of the other candidates connected with the teachers – who are a powerful political force in DC – as directly and consistently as Andy, who said, “As Washington’s next mayor, I will make sure the voices of teachers and parents are at the table whenever important education decisions are made.”
The forum was sponsored by the Washington Teachers Union, the national American Federation of Teachers and Empower DC as part of a “National Day of Action” on education issues.
Andy used the occasion to release his first policy paper, which outlined his education principles to improve public schools in the District. Andy outlined some of his education priorities at the forum.
He declared, “No more school closings – period! Closing schools disempowers communities. If a neighborhood school isn’t good enough, we need to invest in it to make it better. We can’t let our neighborhood schools just die.”
Andy also pledged to scrap what he called the “consumer model of education.” He said, “Every year parents race across the city, shopping for a school for their child. That’s unfair. Parents want stability and quality, as do teachers.”
Andy also said the impact of poverty on student achievement must be dealt with head-on. “I believe elected officials have neglected the impact of poverty on achievement. It is wrong to expect school teaching staff to cope with poverty and other socio-economic issues alone, in the classroom.”
Andy sealed his debate victory when he rebuked Gray for maintaining his tight grip of mayoral control over the DC public school system. “Teacher turnover is unacceptably high and has changed the way we put the public in public education – people have become more disenfranchised, disaffected and disrespected in the past three years.”
The night ended with a new dynamic in the mayoral race: Andy is surging and the incumbent mayor is sagging out the gate.
Andy's FULL Education Policy statement: http://www.andy4dc.com/...