By George Kevin Jordan, AFRO Staff Writer
Scores of people took an oath of service this week, as the swearing-in ceremony for the District of Columbia State Board of Education (SBOE), the Shadow Congressional Delegation and the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner seats were held on Jan 2.
The event took place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt Vernon Pl NW, Washington, DC 2000, just hours after Mayor Muriel Bowser, Attorney General Karl. A Racine and several DC Council members held their own swearing-in ceremony.
Phil Mendelson, chairman of the D.C. Council, who took the oath at the earlier ceremony, presided over this event.
Emily Gasoi (Ward 1), Zachary Parker (Ward 5), and Jessica Sutter (Ward 6) all became first time SBOE representatives. Ruth Wattenberg (Ward 3) was the only incumbent SBOE member sworn in Wednesday.
Michael D. Brown and Franklin Garcia were on hand to take oaths as Shadow U.S. Senator, and Shadow U.S. State Representative, respectively. Some 292 people took oaths for ANC Commissioners. Four ANC seats remained vacant.
Though not as politicized as the remarks in the earlier event, the incoming legislators has a lot to say about education in the district.
Indeed D.C.’s school have a number of problem areas. The graduation rate in 2018 for D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) was 69 percent according to data from the SBOE. Also according to a recent report commissioned by the SBOE, D.C. teacher turnover in both public and public charter schools is about 25 percent, compared to the national average of 16 percent
Zachary Parker, after taking a family selfie to a round of applause, likened the District to the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities.”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” Parker said adding that your geography may determine how your educational experience turns out. “It is the best of times if you live in certain sections of our city, often affluent and Whiter, where kids are guaranteed seats in one of our best schools, you get picked in the lottery or you can afford to send your kids to the school of your choice.”
“It is the worst of times if you live in other sections of the city, often less affluent and Blacker, where you are just told your neighborhood schools are worth only one out of five stars.”
Parker laid out his agenda for improving schools and making sure education is an equitable affair for all, letting the audience know Dickens’ words need not be the District’s fate. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times– the choice is yours.”
Senator Brown took time to thank his wife, Pat, shedding some light on just how dedicated many D.C. legislators are.
“I do this job full time, like you, with no compensation,” Brown said to the crowd of mostly legislators and their families, “and the reason I can do it is because my wife works two jobs.”
The subject of statehood quickly bubbled to the surface.
“I’m here to make you an offer you can’t refuse,” Brown said, borrowing a line from The Godfather film. “A chance to finally make D.C. residents, equal citizens of our great nation.”
Both Brown and Garcia started chants saying: “What do we want? Statehood. When do we want it? Now!”
For a list of ANC commissioners go to https://anc.dc.gov/