Halloween Decorations Begin to Appear

Posted October 15, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Holiday decorations, Holidays

Tags: , ,
3666 Park Place decorated for Halloween.

3666 Park Place decorated for Halloween.

Halloween is just over two weeks away, but I’m already starting to see people getting into the coming festivities. The photos today are  from 3666 Park Place, NW, which as you can see is really decked out. I like everything about it, from the cobwebs and spiders to the skeleton and gourds.

Over the next two weeks I’m definitely going to be on the lookout for more great decorations. Unlike years past, I’m going to broaden my search to all of Ward 1. I’m curious to see which neighborhood has the most Halloween spirit.

3666 Park Place Halloween

Scott Simpson: Candidate for the Ward 1 State Board of Education

Posted October 14, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Elections

Tags: , , ,
Laura Wilson Phelan, Candidate for Ward 1 State Board of Education (image from campaign Web site)

Scott Simpson, Candidate for Ward 1 State Board of Education (image from campaign Web site)

The fifth and last in the series featuring candidates for Ward 1 State Board of Education is Scott Simpson. You can learn more about Simpson at his campaign Web site here.

Here are the questions each candidate received along with Scott’s answers:

Q: Which Ward 1 neighborhood do you live in?

A: I live in LeDroit Park.

Q: How long have you lived in D.C.?

A: I’ve been a D.C. resident for 12 years.

Q: Why did you decide to become a candidate for the Ward 1 Member of the State Board of Education?

A: I’m running because I want to help make sure our school reform efforts continue and are inclusive. I’m a professional civil rights and education advocate who can give students a representative on the State Board of Education who can navigate the bureaucracy of our education system to get things done, who can provide proper oversight to schools, and can push for the reforms that increase access to a quality education for all students –regardless of their identity, life circumstance, or zip code.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish on the State Board of Education?

A: It’s imperative that the next member of the State Board of Education view the role as an independent education advocate for students and constituents. I would champion greater community engagement from schools and the school system, more supports for teachers, greater access to meaningful data about student achievement, and reforms to ensure that disadvantaged students have access to the resources they’re entitled to under the law.   Our school reforms are working, but not for all students, we need an advocate to make sure that all students benefit from our progress.

Q: How does your professional and/or life experience make you a good candidate for the State Board of Education, and how will it help you be a successful Member of the Board?

A: I’ve volunteered thousands of hours with D.C. youth and understand how some students have had to trek across the city for a quality education or suffer with inadequate access to support services and the resources needed to thrive.

My first job in D.C. was at a youth center working directly with teenagers every day. I worked my way through career college and now I’m a professional education and civil rights advocate at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

My education advocacy at the state and national level has helped to narrow resource disparities in low-income schools, has promoted access to science and math learning, and has helped promote equity in the distribution of qualified teachers.

I’m the only candidate that offers this experience with D.C. students and the know-how to navigate the bureaucracy of our education system.

Q: Is this your first bid for elected office? If not, please describe other elected positions you’ve held, briefly note your accomplishments, and describe how the community benefited by your advocacy.

A: I’m one of the few candidates who has not run for another office. It’s important that the person who serves Ward One on the State Board of Education be interested in the job, not on other political ambitions.

Q: Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?

A: I’m the only candidate in this race who has been a consistent presence at the State Board of Education for the past year, who has studied the office at almost every meeting, and who has taken an active interest in the job. I already understand how to make a difference on the SBOE and will put that experience to work on behalf of the District.

You can learn more at www.SimpsonforSchools.org or at http://www.twitter.com/ScottSimpson202. You can also email me directly at Scott (at) simpsonforschools.org.

Fall View of Soldiers’ Home

Posted October 13, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Uncategorized

Soldiers Home hospital

It seemed like the right time of year to share this early 20th century postcard of the Soldiers’ Home. Titled The Hospital, from Dairy Farm, U.W. Soldiers’ Home, what is particularly nice about the image are the corn stalks in the foreground, once again serving as a reminder that the Soldiers’ Home once had an active farm and dairy.

2014 Columbia Heights Day Has Good Turn Out

Posted October 13, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Sports leisure and entertainment

Tags: ,

Columbia Heights Day 2014(The stage area by Wonderland)

Despite a cool, overcast fall day, the turn out for this year’s Columbia Heights Day was relatively strong. The live music at the Irving Street end of 11th Street was a popular hang out, as was the food vendors. As expected in an election year, political candidates were everywhere. The Mayoral candidates were all represented and at the festival during one time or another, with Carol Schwartz, David Catania, and Muriel Bowser all present … but the best place to see candidates was in the dunk tank. As a participant in the tank, I’ll tell you, it was cold, cold, cold.

All the candidates for the Ward 1 State Board of Education (who we are featuring on this blog) were also present to speak with community members.

Below are some photos from the day.

Columbia Heights Day 2014(Band at the festival)

Columbia Heights Day 2014(Muriel Bowser’s booth)

Columbia Heights Day(David Catania speaking with residents)

Columbia Heights Day 2014(At-Large Council candidate Elissa Silverman in the dunk tank)

Kent in Dunk Tank October 11, 2014(Kent Boese, representing ANC 1A, in the dunk tank. See him get dunked here. Photo by Juan Camilo Barragán.)

Laura Wilson Phelan: Candidate for the Ward 1 State Board of Education

Posted October 10, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Elections

Tags: , , ,
Lillian Perdomo, Candidate for Ward 1 State Board of Education (image from campaign Web site)

Laura Wilson Phelan, Candidate for Ward 1 State Board of Education (image from campaign Web site)

The fourth in this series featuring candidates for Ward 1 State Board of Education is Laura Wilson Phelan. You can learn more about Phelan at her campaign Web site here or follow her on Twitter at @LWilsonPhelan

Here are the questions each candidate received along with Laura’s answers:

Q: Which Ward 1 neighborhood do you live in?

A: My husband, Michael, and I live in Mt. Pleasant with our twin four-year-old daughters, Grace and Lily.

Q: How long have you lived in D.C.?

A: I have lived in DC for 11 years.

Q: Why did you decide to become a candidate for the Ward 1 Member of the State Board of Education?

A: As a parent, former teacher, and lifelong education advocate, I understand first-hand the challenges facing our parents, teachers, school leaders and students as we work to create the best possible schools for our children.

I have four-year-old twin daughters, Grace and Lily, who attend DC schools. I understand the anxiety of negotiating the city’s lottery system and the difficult choices parents have to make when choosing the best possible education their children.

I started my education career as a bilingual middle school teacher in one of our nation’s toughest schools. I have experienced directly the impact of district policies on educational outcomes for students. As a teacher, I often wished my elected officials had been classroom teachers themselves so that they could better understand the actual impact of their decisions on students, teachers and school leadership.

As a lifelong education advocate, I witnessed the incredible progress that occurs when families and teachers partner with one another to help students learn.   I have led the start up and growth of an education non-profit that focuses on building leadership in education and helping students get the support they need to be successful in life. Today, I am the chief operating officer of a DC non-profit that coaches teachers and principals on how to create strong relationships with families at 30 schools across the city, including four here in Ward 1.

And as a former elected official in Mt. Pleasant, I know how to bring communities together to solve problems.

Now, I am running for school board to bring all those experiences together to improve Ward 1 schools. Our schools have made many improvements, but we still have a ways to go to reach the goal of an excellent education for all.   I have a vision and plan for how to tap the tremendous potential of our families, community members, educators, and elected officials to make rapid progress on the issues facing Ward 1 schools.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish on the State Board of Education?

A: I have personally knocked on over 1,000 doors across the Ward, and my campaign team has knocked on close to 8,000 doors at the time of writing this. I have listened to the concerns and ideas of voters and incorporated their thoughts into my vision.

My ultimate goal as a member of the State Board of Education is to generate measurable progress in ensuring Ward 1 schools meet the academic and social needs of every child. I will have considered my time on the State Board successful if the following is true at the end of my four-year term:

  1. Ward 1 elementary schools improve their results so that children are reading, writing and performing math on grade-level with at least 15% performing above grade-level.
  2. Ward 1 is home to cutting-edge middle school and high schools to which all parents are excited to send their children.
  3. Parents have clearer, well-rounded measures for judging a school’s performance beyond test results, such as teacher turnover and family engagement.
  4. The District has more accurate ways of measuring the progress of students enrolled in bilingual schools, where the emphasis is on reading and writing fluency in two languages.
  5. Families, community members, and school principals are organized and working together on tasks that lead to better academic and social outcomes for all children in our schools.

Q: How does your professional and/or life experience make you a good candidate for the State Board of Education, and how will it help you be a successful Member of the Board?

A: I grew up in poverty as one of 13 children. My father instilled in us a sense that we could accomplish anything we set our minds to with a strong work ethic. He also ensured that we went to great public schools, which set me up for success in college and later in life.

I am very grateful for the fortune of my upbringing and have devoted my life to ensuring that others whose circumstances are less fortunate have equal opportunities in life.

I started my career as a bilingual middle school teacher in one of our nation’s toughest schools and went on to teach high school in the Peace Corps and adult education to recent immigrants. After earning my master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School, I worked in the executive and legislative branches of our federal government to ensure our tax dollars were well-spent to produce meaningful outcomes for those most in need. I have led the start up and growth of an education non-profit that focuses on building leadership in education and helping students get the support they need to be successful in life. Today, I am the chief operating officer of a DC non-profit that coaches teachers and principals on how to create strong relationships with families at 30 schools across the city, including four here in Ward 1.

Beyond my professional credentials, I have demonstrated my personal investment in our public schools and the Ward 1 community. I served as an ANC commissioner in Mt. Pleasant where I helped secure repairs to a neighborhood alley and improved bike safety. I currently serve on the Local School Advisory Team for Bancroft Elementary and played a leading role in developing a community-driven five-year plan to improve results for students. I also serve on the board of Thrive DC in Ward 1, which serves homeless individuals and families.

I have four-year-old twin daughters, Grace and Lily, who attend DC schools, and I understand the anxiety of negotiating the city’s lottery system and the difficult choices parents have to make when choosing the best possible education their children.

All of these experiences have provided me with deep knowledge of the needs of children in our schools to make informed policy decisions on the State Board. I understand first-hand the challenges facing our parents, teachers, school leaders and students and will not need to climb a steep learning curve to begin making progress on the issues facing Ward 1 schools.

Q: Is this your first bid for elected office? If not, please describe other elected positions you’ve held, briefly note your accomplishments, and describe how the community benefited by your advocacy.

A: I previously served as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, representing single member district 1D in Mt. Pleasant from 2010 to 2012. As Commissioner, I played a supporting role in completing the rehabilitation of the Mt. Pleasant Library, strengthening the customer base of our local businesses through outdoor seating, and supporting constituents in their individual neighborhood’s needs. I also played a leading role in getting repairs made to an alley and improving bike safety. I developed a newsletter for residents that I regularly distributed to keep them informed of ANC activities. The community benefited from my efforts through an improved library facility, safer and cleaner alley ways, and safer biking on Mt. Pleasant Street. The community also benefited by my advocacy in cutting through red tape, getting them answers to their questions, and receiving pro-active communications about matters relevant to their community.

Q: Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?

A: I believe in possibilities and the potential of our children. I am an avid listener, responsive, and committed to improving our schools. I am a practitioner of collaboration who believes that we, as a community, are part of the solution to improving our schools, and that together we will create the change we want to see. I have begun the work of bringing us together already by building “The Coalition” – an alliance of parents and community members who have committed to helping to improve our schools. I have also met with principals, PTA presidents, and community leaders to hear their ideas and brainstorm solutions about the challenges facing our schools. If you have ideas about what can be done to improve our schools, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. My email address is lauradcschoolboard (at) gmail.com. You may learn more about me on my website, www.lauradcschoolboard.com. Thank you!

Lillian Perdomo: Candidate for the Ward 1 State Board of Education

Posted October 9, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Elections

Tags: , , ,
Lillian Perdomo, Candidate for Ward 1 State Board of Education

Lillian Perdomo, Candidate for Ward 1 State Board of Education

Continuing the series featuring candidates for Ward 1 State Board of Education is Lillian Perdomo. You can learn more about the candidate at her campaign Web site here or on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter at @yesforlillian

Here are the questions each candidate received along with Lillian’s answers:

Q: Which Ward 1 neighborhood do you live in?

A: I live in Mount Pleasant with my husband, David Chulick, my 16-year-old daughter, Amanda (a DCPS Ward One, Senior High School student), our dog, Oliver, and our cat, Juliet.

Q: How long have you lived in D.C.?

A: I have lived in DC for a total of 28 years; in Ward One for 16 years.

Q: Why did you decide to become a candidate for the Ward 1 Member of the State Board of Education?

A: Aside from my unshakeable belief that our students have a fundamental right to attend quality schools, my decision to run for the DC State Board of Education is driven by a strong conviction that it is morally wrong that so many of our students are not reaching their full potential. I know that Ward One students have immense potential regardless of their background. In addition, I am uniquely qualified to take on this task because of my first-hand long-term knowledge of the school system—both its strengths and weaknesses— as a parent, an educator, and as an advocate on behalf of children and their parents. I also find encouragement in knowing that the majority of us constituents are fed up with the status quo, and that we are at a turning point, for which we all must come together to do what it takes for Better Schools and Student Success.

I experienced firsthand the challenges that our communities face to be assured access to a quality education. My various perspectives include over 25 years of community organizing and advocating for DC children and families, including 9 years as an educational not-for-profit executive, five years as an educator in Ward One public schools, a parent, a PTA co-chair, and now, also, a grandparent of a Pre-K student. This past summer I coordinated the afterschool, Summer Arts Program at Bruce Monroe E. S.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish on the State Board of Education?

A: For over 25 years, through my experience in the schools, I have actively listened to a multiplicity of stakeholders, and have seen programs and strategies come and go. Unfortunately none of these initiatives has been effective in tackling our largest issue, which is the achievement gap for low income minority populations that make up 85% of our student body.

For example, the demographics of Ward One are 47% African American students and 47% Hispanic /Latino students, and according to the DC CAS there has been a drop in reading achievement of 2% for African American students and 6% for English as a Second Language students. To reach their full potential our students must be provided with the fundamental right to attend quality schools. These quality schools must possess the ability to guide our students to become successful lifelong learners through challenging, hands-on instruction that relates to the students’ life experiences. My platform is simple.   I plan to press for better schools and stronger communities with my CAN DO strategy:

Community Schools — Provide coordinated services to least-advantaged students and families.

Accountable Schools — Ensure OSSE oversight of federal and local mandates and civil rights requirements for educating high-poverty, special education and English language learner students.

Neighborhood Schools — Assure quality schools closest to where children live.

Dynamic Schools — Create ideal learning environments with more STEAM science, technology, engineering, the arts and math integration.

Opportunity Centers — Secure college and career development assistance for youth.

Q: How does your professional and/or life experience make you a good candidate for the State Board of Education, and how will it help you be a successful Member of the Board?

A: Like virtually every parent and grandparent, I want to ensure equitable access and excellent education for my family.  However, I have also lived in the world of the least advantaged, both as a student and a parent.  I know what it takes to reach and adequately serve low-income communities that often are isolated and face many challenges because I myself have faced those harsh realities in my own life. As a child in El Salvador, I faced personal, familial, and political turmoil.  In the United States, in search of freedoms not awarded in my home country, I survived loneliness, near homelessness, language and cultural barriers, sexual harassment, unpaid child labor, and having to work instead of attending school — while every day dealing with fear for my family’s safety in El Salvador. All of these dreadful experiences give me the understanding of the pain and struggles that many of our DCPS families face every day.

But I also know what it is to triumph. Despite great obstacles, I eventually graduated from high school, overcame domestic violence, and raised my child despite being a single mother in extreme poverty, all the while facing serious health issues. With the support of many good people in DC, I met these challenges and have thrived.

I also understand the importance of education. Even though I was unable to go to college right after graduating from high school in 1986, ten years later, in 1996, I graduated from college with a B.A. in Public Affairs from Trinity University in DC. Education undeniably opened the doors to becoming a life-long learner and to opportunities that my parents never had. Upon graduating, I worked as a Parent Coordinator for the Superintendent of DCPS, provided technical support, and implemented trainings for administrators, staff, and parent leaders, and spearheaded advocacy efforts to support parent involvement in education. In my position as staff member to Committee Chair Schwarz on the Committee on Local, Regional and Federal Affairs, I was responsible for: preparing the Chairperson for Committee hearings and meetings, both at the Council and in Congress; monitoring and drafting legislation; overseeing and recommending budgets for agencies; and analyzing and preparing reports at the Council of the District of Columbia. I made a special effort to ensure that I covered every hearing on education and that the Chairperson would hold a hearing on the issues. I chose to do this work because I wanted to ensure that others had access to the same opportunities I did.

Since then, I have continued to work tirelessly for the community. As a contractor in the U.S. Justice Department, I developed policy recommendations on Violence Against Women Issues. For nearly 10 years, I was a founding board member and first Executive Director of Multicultural Community Services, where I implemented language, youth development, civic engagement and parent involvement programs, for hundreds of parents and youth.  In Ward One, I led community integration, by offering interpretation services, interpreter training and coalition building. In all of these aspects of my work, involvement with DC Public Schools and breaking through the isolation of English Language Learners from the English speaking communities were at the forefront of my efforts. The schools were where I could reach both students and parents to work together to improve education as well as the quality of the lives they lived.

I became fascinated by the democratic process and have been involved in national, state and local elections since.  I have developed many valuable relationships with the public in Ward One, and with elected and appointed officials throughout DC.  Through these relationships, I will work to improve DC Public Schools, foster collaboration with those schools not under the purview of the State Board of Education, and bridge gaps so as to ensure that together we work to provide a quality education for all of our children.

Q: Is this your first bid for elected office? If not, please describe other elected positions you’ve held, briefly note your accomplishments, and describe how the community benefited by your advocacy.

A: I have been elected to the board of the DC Latino Caucus.  From there I was elected to represent the DC Latino Caucus before the DC Democratic State Committee.  Then, I won election to the Democratic State Committee as an Ex-Officio Member.  Through all these positions, I sought to help DC residents least able to help themselves. It is easier for majority groups to get their points across or to represent their issues, but I feel that I have been able to gain the respect of the members of this committees and I am able to get involved with issues that allowed communities that don’t always participate in the democratic process to have a voice and a vote.

Also, I ran unsuccessfully in 2008 for the State Board of Education position and learned many things along the way. For example, I discovered that running for office is a very demanding and time consuming endeavor, and one that I needed to invest lots of time in to be successful. I am currently not doing any consulting work, but concentrating on running a winning campaign. In early 2014, I decided that my family life and my work as a consultant would permit me to follow my passion of running to be able to promote quality education for our Ward One children in the District of Columbia.

In 2012, I was elected to represent DC at the 2014 National Democratic Convention in Charlotte NC. . In that position, I helped assure full Latino participation in the election of President Obama.

Q: Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?

A: I excel at listening, and I am open minded.  These skills will be particularly valuable on the DC Board of Education — where collaboration rather than the exercise of power is essential.

E. Gail Anderson Holness: Candidate for the Ward 1 State Board of Education

Posted October 8, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Elections

Tags: , , ,
E. Gail Anderson Holness, Candidate for Ward 1 State Board of Education (image from campaign Web site)

E. Gail Anderson Holness, Candidate for Ward 1 State Board of Education (image from campaign Web site)

Today, our featured candidate for Ward 1 State Board of Education is E. Gail Anderson Holness. You can learn more about the candidate at her campaign Web site here.

Here are the questions each candidate received along with E. Gail’s answers:

Q: Which Ward 1 neighborhood do you live in?

A: Pleasant Plains-Columbia Heights

Q: How long have you lived in D.C.?

A: Off and on for 36 years. I have lived in Ward One the majority of the time having lived in my present location over 11 years. Ali, my daughter, was born and raised in this community 26 years ago.

Q: Why did you decide to become a candidate for the Ward 1 Member of the State Board of Education?

A: I decided to become a candidate for Ward One Member of the State Board of Education based on my concern and passion for the future of our children. I have served as a substitute teacher in DCPS primarily in Ward One – Cardozo and Banneker. Several Ward One residents encouraged me to run based upon my history of advocacy and active engagement in the Ward One community.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish on the State Board of Education?

A: It is critical that our education system in the District undergo basic reform inclusive of the following:

  • Teacher evaluation - I recommend a comprehensive review of all aspects of the Master Teacher evaluation;
  • Truancy- chronic truancy creates a student who becomes chronically behind in learning;
  • Testing – While there have been some gains the DCPS system continues to have the nation’s widest achievement gaps between white and black students and white and Hispanic students according to the study which shows that poor black children in the District continue to score lower than average than their counterparts;
  • Training for life – It is imperative that our education system prepares our children for college but for those who do not want to attend college can have alternative workforce development opportunities through the UDC Community College; and,
  • Transparency and coordination – Teachers, parents, and students have complained about changes in process and procedures within the school system without properly notifying the stakeholders.

Transparency is needed in the school system and the Board of Education. As the Ward One Member of the State Board of Education, I will:

  • Advocate for the higher performance standards for teachers and students;
  • Push for services that will strengthen our schools, encourage our teachers, and inspire our students to learn and attend school;
  • Engage the entire community – parents, community organizations, and the faith community – to actively participate in the development of our school children;
  • Work with the Ward One Councilmember and the Ward One ANCs to establish a Ward One Education Committee to specially deal with issues affecting our community that may also have a positive effect on the wider DC community.  Parents, teachers, and community residents would be invited to be an integral part of the Ward One Education Committee.

Q: How does your professional and/or life experience make you a good candidate for the State Board of Education, and how will it help you be a successful Member of the Board?

A: I have served as a community and human rights activist most of my youth and all of my adult life. I have worked in the field of Education as a College Administrator, Professor, and Lecturer. My teaching career that began at Pensacola, Florida Community College and expanded to University of Alaska at Anchorage; Coppin State College Baltimore, MD; Benedict College and Allen University Columbia, SC; Howard University, and the University of the District of Columbia. At UDC, I served as Special Assistant to three UDC Presidents, hosted a TV program (10 years) UDC Forum, and was Executive Director of Student Outreach and Leadership Development.

I also served on the committee that wrote the proposal for the legislation for UDC to initiate the Community College. As a trained lawyer, I have a deep understanding of the legislative and regulatory processes and have been successful in developing good polices.

In 1989, I proposed a bill before the Board of Education to require students to wear uniforms in DCPS. During those days, students were literally killing each other over clothes and sneakers. The bill failed but was implemented in 2009.

I believe my training as a lawyer and 25 years in the Education field coupled with my community outreach efforts will contribute immensely to my success as a Member of the State Board of Education.

Q: Is this your first bid for elected office? If not, please describe other elected positions you’ve held, briefly note your accomplishments, and describe how the community benefited by your advocacy.

A: I am a three term Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for ANC 1B11. During my tenure, was elected by the Commission to serve as Secretary, Vice Chairperson, and Chairperson for ANC 1B.  I also served as Vice President of Ward One Democrats, the Mayor’s Commission for Women, and the Mayor’s Interfaith Commission.

My successes as Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for 1B11 include:

  1. Increased Security for LeDroit Senior Building
  2. Speed bumps on 4th Street between V and W Streets
  3. Started Saturday Empowerment Academy every third Saturday
  4. Book drive for youth in the community
  5. Collaborated with local businesses to provide incentive awards to students in Ward One DCPS who excelled academically or athletically.
  6. Advocated for more parking spaces for residents in my SMD that was provided on two streets
  7. Convened the Ward One Church and Community Summit to address Education, Parking, and Crime issues.

Q: Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?

A: I am a mother, educator, community organizer, and human rights activist who believe in the inherent rights of all children, regardless of their race, creed, color, nationality, or sexual orientation. I know that all children can learn and should have the opportunity for quality schools, quality teaches, and a quality education. Ward One is one of the most diverse areas in DC and I am glad to represent all residents and live in this peaceful, comfortable, and safe environment.


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