By Lauren E. Williams, Special to the AFRO
Adrian Jordan, talked to the AFRO for 30 minutes straight. Jordan, 34, a candidate for Ward 5 State Board of Education, took no breaks to read notes or even to drink a glass of water. He just looked at me straight in the eye and answered the reporter’s questions.
Not just about the upcoming elections – or what makes him the best candidate – but about the issues he sees in D.C.’s education system, the information gaps that can develop among parents, communities, and schools, and the importance of PTAs and parental involvement in a student’s life. From one conversation, this reporter learned that Jordan’s run for office is personal.
“It really starts growing up here in D.C. I went to all public schools,” Jordan told the AFRO. “My mom was a single mom but the one thing she always told me was that ‘I don’t want you to struggle and the only way I know how to do that is to make sure you get a good education and opportunities.’ So even though I grew up in Ward 5, and participated in mentoring programs, I never went to a single neighborhood school.”
After graduating college at Florida A&M University, Jordan returned to those same mentoring programs and neighborhood community centers he participated in and visited as a child. He was committed to giving back to the community in which he grew up.
“I realized the exact same stuff my mom used to do – putting me on the bus and the train for a 30-minute commutes to get a good education – parents are still doing this today,” Jordan continued. “How 20 plus years later are we still in the same situation when we have so much education reform, the fast-growing school district, a city budget with about $14.9 million dollars, but yet when I come home I didn’t even choose my neighborhood school because it was poor performing and had poor leadership. I decided enough was enough. I am a product of this Ward, I have the training, it is time for me to give back on this level.”
Jordan is not the only one looking to affect change in Ward 5. In a year when the seat became vacant – as expected – there are other hopefuls. In addition to Jordan, on next week’s ballot are William “Bill” Lewis and Zachary Parker.
But in the midst of the field, many feel that Jordan stands out. According to WAMU, he has raised the second highest in campaign funds – $18,548.00 to Parker’s $44,944.03 – and has major local supporters.
Before working for his current employer, Anthem, Jordan served as a policy staffer for Ward 5 D.C. Councilman Kenyan McDuffie. McDuffie is a public supporter of Jordan’s campaign. Jordan also says the current Ward 5 Board of Education incumbent, Mark Jones, supports him as well.
Jordan’s experience as a member of the Board of Trustees for Two Rivers Public Charter School and first-hand experience as a parent, rounds out some of the reasons voters may find him appealing.
It goes without saying whoever wins the seat has his work cut out for him. Concerns about the power of the D.C. State Board of Education – or lack thereof – abound for many district residents, and recent DCPS scandals have added fuel to this fire.
But Jordan’s confident answers and passionate knowledge base shows that he’s ready for the job. Now it is up to the voters to decide.