The District of Columbia Board of Education elections took place this year on November 6, as well as a special election on December 4. There are eight members of the board, each representing a ward of the city, and were elected by voters in their respective wards. There were five non-incumbents that won seats this year, three of them claiming open seats, and one defeating the occupant of the seat
Zachary Parker won an open seat in Ward 5 with 52.4 percent of the vote. The Northwestern and Columbia University graduate believes that the best way to better DCPS is to strengthen public neighborhood schools, and to increase school choice, so that students can have adequate educational options. He is a third generation educator who founded a company called Global Millennials for Progress, which focuses on finding solutions to international issues including to education, environment, health, human rights, and poverty. He has 10 years of experience in education.
Another new face on the board is Emily Gasoi, who won in Ward 1 with 54 percent of the vote. She is a professor of education, inquiry and justice at Georgetown University and is focused on reducing the student to teacher ratio, and providing year-round learning opportunities for all students. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a doctorate in educational leadership. She then went on to be a guide for new teachers at the Center for Inspired Teaching. She also wrote a book with small schools advocate Deborah Meier.
Winning the vote by 62 percent in Ward 6, is education consultant Jessica Sutter. Sutter graduated from Loyola College with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Before she went into consulting, she taught at public middle schools in southeast D.C and Los Angeles, and recently got her PhD in education. Sutter, who was endorsed by the Washington Post earlier this year, believes that to fix many problems in the education system the board needs stronger budget oversight. Like Parker, Sutter believes that all students should be able to choose from a wide variety of good school options.
Additionally, there was a special election held on December 4 to replace Lannette Woodruff, who resigned from her Ward 4 seat. There were all new candidates running in that election including Rhonda Henderson, Elani Lawrence, Frazier Oleary Jr, and Ryan Tauriainen. Frazier Oleary Jr won the election.
Oleary has been a teacher at Cardozo High School for the last forty years and an adjunct English professor at the University of the District of Columbia since 1984. He believes that “all students can achieve academic excellence if given the guidance and expertise of dedicated teachers and staff.” His platform includes providing access to early education programs, such as Pre-K, to all parts of the city, offering advance program classes in all schools, and increasing special education resources. He also wants to create a curriculum that better reflects the diversity of DCPS.