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

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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2 Comments on “E. Gail Anderson Holness: Candidate for the Ward 1 State Board of Education”

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