When I first moved to Washington, DC, 25 years ago, I was a single father with a little girl. At the time, Ward 8 didn’t have any grocery stores, a single sit-down restaurant or any place for my daughter to play. While the rest of the city enjoyed the very things that make a community strong, Ward 8 went without. So, I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. I was elected to serve as the advisory neighborhood commissioner in my neighborhood and I begam working with residents and other community leaders to assist in building the Town Hall Education Arts & Recreation Center (THEARC). We worked with Mayor Anthony Williams to get the Giant grocery store built, replace the check cashing place with Andrews Federal Credit Union, and rebuild the Douglass Stanton Dwelling into a mixed-use affordable housing community. It didn’t matter that my first elected office was an unpaid “advisory” position, it was about organizing a community around the common good. I’ve always believed that it’s not the power of the position you hold, but about empowering the people you lead. For the past 10 years, I have been working as a leader in public education at Rocketship and KIPP DC to ensure students and parents have quality education options in their community as well as amplifying community and parent voices in our schools.

The role of a State Board of Education representative is to provide educational policy leadership and advocate for needed change to ensure that every student is valued and learn the skills and knowledge necessary to become an informed, competent and contributing global citizen. Currently, I am the only candidate who has relationships with current members on the SBOE; Ward 6 representative, Jessica Sutter, and Ward 2 representative Jack Jacobson as well as members of the DC council; Robert White, Jr., Vince Gray and Trayon White. These relationships are pivotal to getting policy implemented for students, teachers and parents and as the At-Large representative, I will leverage these relationships to ensure that our school are equitably resourced, retain the best teacher talent and are more anti-racist in policy and practice.

I’m running for the State Board of Education, At-Large seat because public education needs that same kind of community support to make it more equitable for every student, regardless of their zip code. The lessons I have learned in helping to revitalize my community and build relationships across the District, I’ll bring to the State Board of Education; starting with our parents. If elected to the State Board of Education, I’ll be the only father with school age children enrolled in DC Public Schools. It’s important that we elevate the parents’ voice in public education because they are an instrumental part of a student’s academic success, as we’re finding out even more during this pandemic and distance learning. I believe that we must organize and elevate the community’s voice around the issues that impact marginalized neighborhoods where educational inequities have become status quo. The quality of a neighborhood starts with the quality of education it provides its residents, regardless of their zip code. It’s time that we elected parent leaders to the SBOE.

More than ever, we need proven leadership to truly close the equity and opportunity gap in communities across DC. I’m looking forward to representing every student, teacher, family and community as the at-large representative on the DC State Board of Education. I’m the only candidate running that has 20 plus years of experience in community advocacy and educational leadership. That’s why I’m asking you to join our campaign for a more equitable DC education system and vote for Jacque Patterson on November 3rd.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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