Release: Democrats For Education Reform District Of Columbia Congratulates Four Endorsed Candidates For Advancing To November General Election

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June 20, 2018

Democrats For Education Reform District Of Columbia Congratulates Four Endorsed Candidates For Advancing To November General Election

DFER DC Ran Voter Contact Campaign and Spent $300K to Support Progressive Education Reformers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democrats for Education Reform‘s DC branch (DFER DC) today congratulates all four of its endorsed candidates for advancing on to the general election in November.  DFER DC endorsed the following candidates because of their track record as progressive education reformers who put student interests first: Muriel Bowser for mayor, Karl Racine for attorney general, Phil Mendelson for DC Council Chair, and Kenyan McDuffie for DC Council representing Ward 5. DFER DC’s Independent Expenditure Committee spent over $300,000 this May and June to reach voters, elevate the importance of education reform, and elect strong education leaders. Expenditures included a canvass in Wards 1 and 6 that will continue through the general election, as well as TV, mail, radio, newspaper, and digital ads to support its slate of endorsed candidates.

“These four candidates’ advancement to the November general election represents the potential and promise of a stronger public education system for all students in DC,” said Catharine Bellinger, DFER DC Director. “These champions of progressive education reform all have strong track records of standing up for the best interests of students. We are proud to support candidates who will work to make sure that all DC students, regardless of race or income, receive the high-quality public education they deserve. Given the significant challenges facing the city’s public schools, it’s more important than ever that we have strong leaders who will work with schools, educators, and parents to close the achievement gap.”

Leading up to this primary election, DFER canvassers engaged voters across the city, with a concentrated field program in Wards 1 and 6. Thousands of voters signed commitment cards pledging to be ‘Education Voters’ and spoke with our canvassers about their hopes for DC public and public charter schools. Canvassers continued working with voters via door-to-door engagement, phone calls, and text messaging. The organization heard voters, particularly parents, ask local leaders to step up to close the achievement gap, improve struggling schools, and expand access to quality schools. Moving forward, DFER plans to partner with District leaders and policymakers to make that vision a reality. The organization will continue engaging with voters directly through the general election in November to elevate the importance of education reform.

An April 2018 poll conducted by Anzalone Liszt Groves and commissioned by Education Reform Now Advocacy, a partner of Democrats for Education Reform, found that there is broad belief among DC voters that local public schools are improving, but that more is needed to close the achievement gap. More than three out of five voters feel that DC public schools are improving (62% agree), and the sentiment is even more pronounced among public school parents (68% agree.) Improving teacher and principal quality was the top priority for voters and parents, with an 87% majority rating improving educator quality is an extremely or very important goal for DC public schools.

About DFER DC’s Endorsed Candidates
Mayor Muriel Bowser
As Mayor, Muriel Bowser has made educator quality and professionalism a top priority, increasing teacher pay through the renewal of the Washington Teachers Union contract while remaining committed to performance-based evaluation. She has also supported increased funding for public charter school facilities, through a four-year commitment to an annual 2.2% increase to charter facilities funding. As she launches the search for a new DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor, DFER looks forward to seeing Mayor Bowser raise the bar for DCPS — only when we hold our schools, educators, and students to a high standard can we advance equity and close persistent achievement gaps.

Attorney General Karl Racine
As the first elected attorney general of the District of Columbia, Karl Racine has made juvenile diversion programs a cornerstone his administration, bringing a data-driven approach to juvenile justice reform that ensures young offenders have a second chance. The Office of the Attorney General, under AG Racine’s leadership, has also worked closely with DC public and public charter schools to reduce truancy and absenteeism through the “I Belong Here” program and social supports for truant students.

DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson
DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has been a tireless champion for DC public and public charter students throughout his tenure. The Chairman has been a leader on fighting truancy and chronic absenteeism through his participation on the Truancy Taskforce, and has been an outspoken leader on the need to improve our the quality of our comprehensive high schools. On the Council, the Chairman has protected autonomy for educators in both the DCPS and charter sector while fighting for equal access to resources for all public schools.

Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie
As Ward 5 Councilmember, Kenyan McDuffie has been a close partner to Ward 5 DCPS and public charter schools. He has been a vocal supporter of parent choice and ensuring all students have access to a quality public school that meets their needs, while championing the autonomy our educators need to provide the highest-quality education for all students. Councilmember McDuffie has also been a strong advocate for juvenile justice reform and civil rights, passing the Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment Act to reduce over-incarceration of young people.