WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 7, 2020)—Democrats for Education Reform-DC Director Ramin Taheri released the following statement today on our organizational values and the Ward 4 primary:
“During this election season, DFER-DC endorsed Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, a champion for education reforms that have helped make D.C. the fastest improving urban school district in the country and have better prepared Black and Brown children for college, career, and life. In furtherance of this, DFER-DC distributed mailers to Ward 4 voters informing them of Janeese Lewis George’s position on divesting resources from traditional police programs, a position that polling showed Ward 4 voters opposed. These mailers oversimplified a more nuanced conversation about public safety without calling out the problematic history of policing Black people, causing misunderstanding and pain on an issue vitally important to the students and families DFER-DC serves. We have taken the time to reflect on the implications of these mailers: We made a mistake, and we have learned from it.
At DFER-DC, we believe an equitable, fully funded public education system is an essential tool to breaking down the racist systems of our society, and we work every day to ensure more Black and Brown children can receive a high-quality public education that allows them to reach their full potential. We also believe that our criminal-punishment, economic, housing, and healthcare systems are interconnected with our school systems and thus educational equity is not possible without racially just practices throughout the policy ecosystem that affects young people and their families. We understand how the mailers we distributed in the Ward 4 election could appear to ignore that interconnectedness and have caused confusion about the values and principles that we hold dear, both personally and as an organization.
Since our founding in 2015, we have been proud to support candidates who have expanded school-based mental health, trauma-informed training, and restorative justice practices, and made sweeping reforms to D.C.’s juvenile justice system. I personally have spent my career fighting for educational equity, working as a civil rights attorney and helping to craft and advance policies that seek specifically to remedy racial injustice. These policies reflect who we are at our core and what we fight for.
As we always have, our team will continue to meet with, listen to, work with, and learn from community members across the city as we seek to achieve our shared goal—a city that puts educational equity and racial justice at the center of our collective work.
And we continue to stand alongside those marching and protesting to disrupt the status quo of inequity and bring about real and lasting change for Black communities.”