RELEASE: Democrats for Education Reform Endorses Education Champions in June Democratic Primary

May 23, 2018
Contact: Catharine Bellinger

Democrats for Education Reform Endorses Education Champions in June Democratic Primary
Four Candidates Selected for Track Record on School Reform

Washington, DC — Today, Democrats for Education Reform’s DC branch (DFER-DC) announced its endorsement of four candidates in the June 19th Democratic Primary elections. The organization will support Muriel Bowser for Mayor, Karl Racine for Attorney General, Phil Mendelson for DC Council Chair, and Kenyan McDuffie for Ward 5 Council.

“We set a higher bar than ever for how we select candidates as ‘DFERs’ this year,” said Catharine Bellinger, DFER-DC Director. “These four candidates not only share our vision and commitment to providing a high-quality public education to all students, regardless of race or income; they also have a track record of standing up for kids in their current roles as policymakers.”

“Sound policy making requires serious commitment to the kind of change and reform that will keep DC moving forward and solve our most pressing challenges. Effective elected leaders collaborate with exceptional educators, learn from best practices in other cities, and provide strong accountability for our schools and agencies to ensure we always prioritize students over politics. Each of these elected officials demonstrates the leadership that will advance and accelerate policies that close the achievement gap and increase access to quality public schools in every neighborhood.”

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.

In 2018 and onward, Democrats for Education Reform will partner with DC policymakers to develop new approaches and monitor existing policies that improve educator effectiveness, expand access to quality public schools, and close the achievement gap.

About the 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.

About DFER
DFER’s District of Columbia chapter was founded in 2015. Its statement of beliefs and the local advisory board list can be found here. Candidate responses to the organization’s questionnaire can be found here.