Joshua Wiley (Courtesy photo)
Joshua Wiley (Courtesy photo)

Months after the passage of legislation allowing educators to run for the State Board of Education (SBOE), another DC Public Schools (DCPS) employee has thrown their hat into the ring. 

Joshua Wiley, an assistant principal at Whittier Elementary School in Northwest, took to Twitter on Monday morning to announce his run for the Ward 6 SBOE seat. He told The Informer that his campaign slogan, “Together with Wiley,” reflects his experience uniting people around a common cause. 

If elected, Wiley cited access to resources and teacher autonomy as his primary focus. He said a stringent curriculum and teacher evaluation system, along with disparities in technology access, have induced an exodus of teachers and students from District public schools. 

“There are so many mandates that take time away from teaching,” Wiley said. “We have tests every week and [the central office] doesn’t even use the PARCC test correctly. Students need some flexibility in their curriculum. School leaders should have some autonomy and a fair evaluation system. Granted, all of this is not in my purview but I could advocate for some of these things.” 

Earlier this year, Wiley commended the Bowser administration for tackling technological equity in the FY 2023 budget proposal. However, he lamented that more has not been done to bridge a socioeconomic divide that he witnessed at Whittier in the early days of the pandemic. Weeks before making his announcement, Wiley met with Ward 6 principals and community members who have had similar experiences. 

Wiley, who comes from a family of educators, brings a decade of experience as a teacher and administrator in DCPS, the District charter school system and Houston Independent School District. In differentiating himself from his opponent, Ward 6 SBOE Representative Jessica Sutter, he cited what he described as Sutter’s affinity for charter schools and her support of the STAR framework’s summative rating

Sutter told The Informer that she intends to file paperwork to run for reelection after the District primary. 

In regard to the summative rating, Wiley said student attendance and scores on assessments, both of which dictate the number of stars a school receives, don’t suffice in gauging quality of instruction. When it comes to charter schools, Wiley didn’t express an objection to their existence. However, he said public schools need more support and called on District officials to dedicate resources to building institutions that strengthen bonds between community members. 

That’s why Wiley expressed plans to address students’ concerns about the quality of school lunch. He also pointed to facilities issues like leaky ceilings and faulty HVAC systems that have plagued District schools. As an SBOE member, Wiley said he will use the larger platform and his knowledge as an administrator to directly address these issues, among others, that have not only affected him, but other school leaders.  

Over the past few years, debate has emerged in the Wilson Building on whether to allow District public school teachers or administrators to run for SBOE seats. In the end, legislation championed by D.C. Councilmembers Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4) and Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) garnered the support of SBOE members Jacque Patterson (At-large) and Frazier O’Leary (Ward 4), along with other education advocates. 

Wiley said he agrees with their sentiments, especially in efforts to ensure equity in a system in which the mayor has control over the affairs of public schools. 

“We need people in positions of power with experience or else you’ll see things going the way they shouldn’t,” he said. “Schools shouldn’t have leaky ceilings and inadequate heat. Schools shouldn’t be under-enrolled when you’re building a brand new school with a lot of lottery seats. Let’s put money into our neighborhood schools instead of trying to appease just one community.”

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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