Ward 5 needs a knowledgeable, committed educator who has a demonstrated passion for our children's education, who our parents can trust, who can relate to the work of our teachers, and who can support our school community through informed advocacy on the State Board of Education.
That candidate is me.
I am a former 7th grade math teacher and lifelong educator. I coach DCPS and charter principals and school leadership teams every single day. I have a track record of success and demonstrated passion for improving life outcomes of our students. I love this city and want more than anything for future generations to be able to benefit from all it has to offer as others and I have.
My priorities include:
- Improved training for leaders and teachers on content and racial bias
- Independent oversight of our schools to track school progress and avoid the fraudulent behavior we saw this year
- Greater autonomy for our school communities, yet greater transparency
- Community collaboration with and supports for our schools to support all students
- Maintaining high learning standards and improving graduation requirements
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My campaign team promotes #InvestIn5 because we believe there is an opportunity for us to build on the collective strength of our communities to improve our schools. We believe every deliberate action community members take is an investment in our students' future.
Meet Zachary Parker:
Proud Eckington Neighborhood resident
Family rooted in DC since the 60s
Third-generation educator and former award-winning math teacher
Senior Director of School Support with ANet (working alongside and coaching DCPS and charter leaders and teachers daily)
Founder and CEO of Global Millennials for Progress (U.S. nonprofit focused on mobilizing millennials to take action in the areas of education, environment, health, human rights, and poverty)
CEO and principal consultant of Accelerate Educational Consulting
Northwestern University (B.S. in Speech and Language Pathology) and Columbia University, Teachers College (M.A. in Education Policy and Leadership) alumnus
Teach For America alumnus (Greater New Orleans Region '09)
Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated
Board Member of Love to Langa (U.S. nonprofit focused on educating and supporting the children of Cape Town, South Africa)
It is all too well known that despite countless hours of professional development, many of our leaders and teachers continue to lack the efficacy to accelerate student learning. We must redefine, reevaluate, and reinvent our support for both leaders and teachers, first by dismantling the "culture of fear" that exists within DCPS and in many of our schools and then by ensuring our evaluation tools and systems are both fair and reliable. While we should hold a high bar for all educators, we must better support our leaders and teachers. What is more, we must provide training on content and pedagogy, as well as provide space for leaders and teachers to explore their biases that influence their approach to teaching and learning and unfairly impact students. The DC State Board of Education has a role to play in influencing and advocating for the best practices we know produce results for students.
The recent and quite numerous accounts of fraudulent grade, truancy, and suspension rate changes and the overall lack of transparency of school decisions, policies, investigations, and budgets proves that we must improve our oversight of DC schools. I support mayoral control, however, do believe the unique authority afforded to the mayor excludes necessary checks and balances. Also, the lack of transparency in our school processes stymies our ability to make true improvements in our schools. Lastly, while often overlooked, we need to maintain high learning standards and provide greater oversight for our home-schooled students.
With every new school year often comes a myriad of well-intended new policies and initiatives from school and system leadership. The churn of new programs create a dizzying environment for leaders and teachers, where focus often shifts from continuous improvement to compliance. We must provide more autonomy to school communities and streamline programs and resources so that leaders and teachers can do what is best for their school communities and students versus comply with a litany of mandates. While DCPS leaders and schools need greater autonomy over their school communities, our charter sector must be held to higher standards of transparency (especially regarding budgetary decisions). Autonomy should not be conflated with transparency.
In some of our schools, parents are disenfranchised, communities are essentially locked out, and struggling students do not receive the support and care they deserve. Unfortunately, Local School Advisory Teams (LSATs), which are designed to provide a voice to school communities, range in effectiveness. Additionally, community-led initiatives such as Out of School Time (OST) funding is necessary and ensures all of our students are adequately supported in order to exceed. Other initiatives such as the mayor's proposal to reserve a percentage of charter school seats for students in a given radius of the school promises to make our charters more reflective of the communities in which they reside -- thereby hopefully increasing community collaboration. Lastly, we must strengthen collaborations between our schools (both charter and district), parents, and the community via our LSATs and provide students access to supports (i.e. academic, health, and social) that allow them to be successful in the classroom.
The DC State Board of Education must maintain high learning standards by which students will be measured and that will support students accessing the college and career of their choice. Graduation requirements should reflect these high standards and ensure students leave our secondary schools ready to compete in college and beyond. What is more, we need to focus more attention and funnel greater resources toward our middle schools (which I believe will strengthen the entire pipeline of schools and provide parents more quality choices, which they are desperate for). Most importantly, all schools should be held accountable for educating all students. In some of our schools, there are large segments of students (namely students of color, those at risk and with special needs) who largely go ignored due to a hyper-focus on only moving top-line student achievement data. I support evaluating our schools based on how well they teach and support our highest need students.
All students can achieve at high levels
A poor education limits the opportunities one is afforded to attend the college and/or pursue the career of their choice
We must examine how race and racism has informed and currently shapes the education our students receive
There is no place for racism in our schools and classrooms
Ward 5 has a rich educational history
Our State Board of Education representative should be present and a leader in our collective education space
It is unfair to teachers and students not to focus on student growth in addition to absolute student achievement
Some of our highest performing and often-lauded schools have significant achievement gaps between students of color and their white peers, which we must focus on as much as improving some of our lowest performing schools
Common Core is a tool of equity to ensure all students are learning from the same high standards
Autonomy is not the enemy of transparency
We need to honor the work teachers do everyday, recognize the passion parents have for providing their children the best education possible, and trust the work educators do broadly
Leaders and teachers need to be content experts
A strong traditional public school system is critical for thriving communities and a well-rounded education
Charters have a place in our education landscape
I reject the notion of being a "district person" or "charter person" and believe in quality schools, whatever the distinction; they are all our schools
We need a strong teacher evaluation system focused on proven instructional strategies, pedagogy, and student achievement; IMPACT is flawed
Our students are currently overassessed due to the lack of a coherent assessment strategy in the District and in many schools
We need more cross-sector collaboration
Our teachers need broader support
Absolute student achievement matters
Only focusing on student achievement (by way of test scores) dismisses the very real structural racism that has relegated many of our highest at-risk students in failing schools
We need greater oversight of our schools and an independent, reliable data/research arm informing the public of our schools' strengths and areas of improvement
Dual language programs are a nice to have (and are important), while improved language access for our students and families is a must. We need to make progress on both.
elow are my positions on some of the latest happenings in the DC ed space.
Safe Passage Ways: The recent and tragic murders of students at KIPP HS and Ballou HS should remind us that we need to prioritize safe passage ways for our students. We need to better leverage police and community resources to ensure our children's safety.
Out of School Time Funding: Out of School Time Funding is a necessary component in the FY19 budget and promises to support our students academically.
Student Fair Access to School Amendment Act 2018: This policy is a welcomed and needed policy change, which protects our children's right to an education and curves suspension rates for students, especially students of color who are often caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline. I support the policy, however, believe we need to be vigilant about how this policy impacts school culture and learning in the classroom. A consequence of this legislation could be additional red tape that usurps teachers' authority in the classroom, gives schools an out from managing tight behavior management systems, and promoting alternative means of excluding students from meaningful learning in the class.
Neighborhood Preference: I believe in building the school-community relationship whether DCPS or charter, and believe ensuring that our schools reflect the communities in which they serve is the way to strengthen these ties. At least 20% of school seats should be allotted for neighborhood preference.
Star Rating System: OSSE's recommendation and the Board's vote for allocating 70% of a school's quality review rating to student proficiency numbers does not tell a full enough narrative about our schools. While achievement is important, and needs to be our unwavering focus, we must all consider the very real and disparate circumstances our schools face depending on at-risk population and learning gaps, among other very important factors. Not enough weight is given to the performance of a schools' at-risk population or growth from year to year, which essentially means schools with more affluent and fewer at-risk students will always score higher than peer institutions with contrasting narratives. What is more, when you look deeper in the data of some of our higher achieving schools, you'll find troubling trends of achievement gaps where students of color are often lagging behind their white peers. I propose a more equitable distribution on the city's rating system that acknowledges achievement but also recognizes schools' work and progress with at-risk students and growth.
Ward 5 Schools
Our campaign believes Ward 5 businesses will play an integral role in helping to transform our schools. We welcome local businesses to align with our campaign to bring about the change our students deserve. If interested in joining our business advisory council, please email our team at email@example.com.
Our campaign knows parents are on the front lines of the fight against educational inequity. The only way we will be successful in this race and our community in changing our schools is if we enlist Ward 5 parents in the struggle. If interested in joining our parent advisory council, please complete the form below and a member of our team will follow up with you soon.
Our campaign honors the work teachers do and value their insights. We welcome teachers who live or teach in Ward 5 schools to join our teacher advisory council. Please complete the form below and a member of our team will follow up with you soon.