Monthly Archives: September 2018

Head Start expands in PGCPS where scandal flared two years ago

web-banner-01_4.pngBy Donna St. George

Head Start classes are expanding in Prince George’s County, more than two years after the public school system lost a multimillion-dollar federal grant for the early-education program amid reports of corporal punishment and humiliation of children.

Easterseals DC MD VA and the Lourie Center for Children’s Social & Emotional Wellness announced Wednesday that they have received a combined $33.5 million in federal grants to operate programs for 418 economically disadvantaged children a year. The grants will stretch over five years.

That’s significantly fewer children than what the school system once served in Prince George’s — 932 children in 2016 — but it is evidence of revival for a prominent program in a county with a large number of children living near the poverty line.

Leaders from the two nonprofits are working to roll out their programs, with two centers open last week and more expected soon. School system officials say they embrace the efforts and promised to provide classroom space and other resources.

“This is great for children and families in Prince George’s County,” said Monica Goldson, interim chief executive of the school district, who pledged to “do our best to help the new providers serve as many children as possible, as quickly as possible.”

Though no longer operating Head Start, county school officials have expanded prekindergarten by 280 seats since 2016 and increased the program’s full-day enrollment.

Designed to foster school readiness, Head Start enrolls children ages 3 to 5 and has a sister program, Early Head Start, for infants and toddlers. The programs are administered by the federal Administration for Children and Families, which awarded the grants.

Head Start aims to make children from low-income families ready for school by offering educational, nutritional, health and social services.

Easterseals received an $18.6 million grant, not including start-up costs, to serve 218 children a year, and the Lourie Center drew a $14.9 million grant to serve 200 children a year. Both organizations will enroll infants to 5-year-olds.

Federal officials said the grants include programs for infants and toddlers, which are significantly more expensive. But they said they expect the shift to give the most vulnerable and underserved children “the support they need to succeed in school and in life.”

Easterseals officials said they will provide programs to children living in southern Prince George’s County. Centers in Hyattsville and Temple Hills are already serving children, and locations will be added in coming months, they said.

They said they plan to go beyond education to offer early-intervention evaluations, mental health support and other services. Classrooms will include children with disabilities, who could account for as much as 25 percent of enrollment.

“There is tremendous need for services in Prince George’s County, and this is a big step to begin serving a large number of families,” said Larry Bram, a senior vice president at Easterseals. “We believe we can help change lives — and earlier is better.”

Lourie’s programs under the new grant will serve children in the county’s northern and central areas. Classrooms are slated to open as early as next month in Riverdale Park and Adelphi, and home-based services will be provided for pregnant women and for children from birth to age 3. Lourie plans to enroll 12 children in a therapeutic nursery program that works with children who have experienced trauma or other emotional challenges.

The new efforts mark a rebound for Head Start in Prince George’s.

Federal officials cited a string of troubling incidents as they announced their intention to revoke the school system’s grant in August 2016. One involved a teacher forcing a 3-year-old who wet himself to mop his own urine in front of the class and texting a photo to his mother, describing the punishment and writing “LOL.”

In another incident, a teacher made two children hold heavy boxes over their heads for an extended period as punishment for playing during nap time. A 5-year-old wandered away from the program, unmonitored for 50 minutes.

[Feds end Head Start grant after finding schools humiliated kids, used corporal punishment]

Federal officials said at the time that school district leaders had not taken sufficient steps after problems were pointed out. Prince George’s relinquished a grant it had held for 50 years.

Afterward, temporary efforts were made to serve Head Start students. Federal officials brought in a nonprofit from Denver that provided interim services. County school officials also used more than $5 million in school system money to operate an early-education program for children already enrolled in Head Start during the 2016-2017 school year.

[After feds cancel Head Start grant over abuse, Md. county to have ‘Early Start’ instead]

Easterseals has a 70-year history in the Washington region of providing early care and education services to disadvantaged children, officials said. But this is the agency’s first foray into Head Start, so it has engaged Shine Early Learning, a nonprofit with Head Start expertise, to help.

[How a Maryland school system lost its Head Start grant]

Leaders at the Lourie Center, started in 1983, said their efforts would come in the spirit of founders Reginald S. Lourie, T. Berry Brazelton and Stanley Greenspan, experts in early-childhood development. It has been involved in Early Head Start in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties for more than 20 years.

The new grant would add greatly to the “continuity of care,” said Angela Card, director of Head Start for the Lourie Center. “We will be able to really support children, through pregnancy and from birth to 5.”

Via Washington post 

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Recent PGCPS Suitland High School graduate shot to death in Southeast DC

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TaQuan Pinkney was found shot in the 2800 block of Stanton Road in Southeast D.C.

 – The mother of an 18-year-old graduate is mourning the loss of her son who was fatally shot this weekend in the District.

D.C. police say TaQuan Pinkney was found shot in the 2800 block of Stanton Road in Southeast D.C. by officers at around 1:13 p.m. Sunday. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

According to Pinkney’s mother, her son was headed to the corner store, but never came home. She said police told her that TaQuan was not the intended target of the shooting.

Pinkney graduated from Suitland High School in May and had been working at a local restaurant to help pay for college. He was planning on attending the University of the District of Columbia.

He was also involved in the community with Horton’s Kids, a D.C. community-based organization that provides at-risk children with programs to help them prepare for their education and their future.

Pinkney leaves behind five siblings, his mother said.

A reward of up to $25,000 is being offered to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible in Pinkney’s death. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call D.C. police at 202-727-9099.

Via Fox5 DC

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TaQuan Pinkney in a past photo during his graduation. 

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Students Walk Out at Sacramento Charter High School to Protest Teacher Firings and Arbitrary Policies

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Students protested at Sacramento Charter High School, operated by St. Hope’s Charter chain, led by former mayor Kevin Johnson and his wife Michelle Rhee

Students protested at Sacramento Charter High School, operated by St. Hope’s Charter chain, led by former mayor Kevin Johnson and his wife Michelle Rhee. They were angry about Teacher firings over the summer and arbitrary rules, like requiring students to wear long pants when the temperature reached 100.

Charter operators can’t push high school students around as easily as little kids.

Here’s some history about Sacramento Charter High School.

“Founded in 1856, Sacramento High School moved several times. In 1922, construction began at its current location on 34th Street. It opened at this location in 1924 and continuously served the growing neighborhoods of Downtown Sacramento, Midtown, East Sacramento, River Park, College Greens, Tahoe Park and Oak Park until 2003.

“The school was closed by the SCUSD School Board in June 2003, over the objections of many students, parents and teachers. The new charter high school, which opened in September 2003, kept the same school colors, purple and white, and the dragon mascot but not the Visual and Performing Arts Center (VAPAC) which had been one of the school’s unique features for many years. Sacramento Charter High School is governed by a private Board of Directors from St. Hope Public Schools.”

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Students protested at Sacramento Charter High School, operated by St. Hope’s Charter chain, led by former mayor Kevin Johnson and his wife Michelle Rhee

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Michelle A. Rhee is an American educator and advocate for education reform. She was Chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools from 2007 to 2010.

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Kevin Maurice Johnson is an American former professional basketball player and Democratic Party politician who served as the 55th Mayor of Sacramento, California. He is the husband of educator Michelle Rhee.

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Letter: PGCPS responds to Thomas Stone first-day fiasco – PGCPS Parents are still in shock!

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Rocio Treminio-Lopez/Town of Brentwood
This photo, taken by Brentwood Mayor and Thomas Stone Elementary parent Rocio Treminio-Lopez, shows crowds outside the school on the first day of class. Confusion over a visitor ID policy on the first day angered many parents.

Editor’s note: This letter below is in response to our blog post. Reform Sasscer was the first to highlight the PGCPS havoc on September 4th, and an opinion article by Thomas Stone Elementary parent Sarah Christopherson posted on September 6th, alleging mismanagement and confusion of the school’s first-day of class activities clarified the issues even further. We republish as part of reasonable claim of fair use since the story is already out there to educate and enlighten our customers especially in PGCPS District. 

Prince George’s County Public Schools is aware of the experiences that Ms. Christopherson and other Thomas S. Stone Elementary parents had on the first day of school. The principal apologized to parents in a robocall Tuesday evening for not allowing them to enter the building with their child.

Our Administrative Procedure requires school visitors to present government-issued identification with their name, date of birth and photo. However, there is an exception for large groups, such as visitors attending assemblies, performances or parents who wish to accompany their child to class on the first day of school.

We are working closely with the school’s leadership team to maintain a welcoming and positive environment for all families in the Thomas Stone school community.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.

Best regards,

Raven Hill, Communications Officer, Prince George’s County Public Schools

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Opinion: Thomas Stone Elementary first-day confusion part of larger problem

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This poor family lost their daughter b/c Brian Frosh is playing bad politics.

41312850_10209579807092455_6037418163434422272_nMaryland’s criminal justice system is terribly broken. Tracey Carrington was a former basketball player at Morgan State University. She was scheduled to testify against two men charged for an April double homicide in Towson.

The two men were initially held without bail. But at bail review, they were released on home detention. Later that month, the names of potential witnesses in that trial were turned over to their defense attorneys.

Last night, a gunman approached Carrington as she was leaving the S&S Lounge in Overlea and shot her multiple times.

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 a gunman approached Carrington as she was leaving the S&S Lounge in Overlea and shot her multiple times. Read more >>> Baltimore sun

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Mr. Brian Frosh has mishandled bails. The above situation is Mr. Frosh’s fault…..DO NOT VOTE FOR HIM vote Craig Wolf. This poor family lost their daughter b/c Brian Frosh is playing politics.

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Vote for Craig Wolf as the next Maryland Attorney General. 

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Great Honor at the African Community Service Awards as Craig Wolf is endorsed by African Community for AG Position.

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Mr. Craig Wolf (far left) who is running for the Office of the Maryland Attorney General as a Republican in November 2018 General Elections is highly favored and blessed. The Africans Chiefs and Queens blessed him last weekend. He was also provided the keynote address at award ceremony

The African Community in diaspora endorsed Mr. Craig Wolf for the Office of the Maryland Attorney General in November general elections. During a colorful ceremony at Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia, Mr. Wolf was praised and he is highly favored and blessed. Running for office as a Republican, Mr. Wolf stands a better chance as he has no known ties to the local illegal schemes destroying Maryland.

“It was a tremendous honor to be invited to attend and provide the keynote address at the African Community Service Awards ,” Mr. Craig Wolf stated on Facebook.

“Maryland is fortunate to have more than 120,000 Africans living in our state, working, creating successful businesses, raising families – and enjoying the freedom and opportunities America offers to people of all faiths and ethnicities,” Mr. Craig added.

“Great to see and support Felicia Folarin For County Council At LargeSylvester O. Okere, President and CEO of United People for African Congress, and to meet “Nollywood” Star and activist Kanayo O. Kanayo, who spoke about the violence plaguing Nigeria at the hands of Boko Haram,” Mr. Wolf concluded.

In order to disrupt local illegal schemes involving some elected officials in Maryland and Mr. Brian Frosh, Maryland residents are asked to vote for Mr. Craig Wolf in November 2018. Organized crime forms a great threat to societies across the globe and Maryland is not an exception.  The current Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh is involved in a major conflict of interests which undermines justice and the courts. First, Mr. Frosh used to be the Judicial Senate Chairman responsible for vetting and recommending appointment of local judges before he became the Maryland Attorney General (AG). Once he became the AG in 2014, Mr. Frosh has been undermining cases he is involved in while colluding with the very state and Federal judges he helped appoint to undermine justice as part of judicial racism.

The state of Maryland citizenry are requested to call Governor Larry Hogan and President Trump to request for Federal help in order to review the illegal activities advanced by Mr. Frosh in the last several years.

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Mr. Brian Frosh is seen here is accused of advancing corruption within the judiciary,  discriminatory and racist tendencies within state agencies  in addition to failing to protect Marylanders first before going to confront the federal government. “It’s Misplaced Priority”.

As Mr. Frosh desires for going after the President for violation of the emoluments clause and as case proceeds to trial under directions of a judge he helped appoint, many of us bet Frosh is pleasuring himself right now. However, remember as he goes after the President; Baltimore is the murder capital of the world only second to Chicago, MS-13 is running Amok in Maryland, the opioid crisis in Maryland is continuing to ravage our state, Prince George’s County continues to be a major hub for criminal activities and human trafficking is still a major problem in Maryland. Does Mr. Brian Frosh even care about these issues?  Maryland needs an Attorney General who is capable to protect Marylanders first before going to confront the federal government.

Researchers, policymakers and law enforcement agencies across the globe struggle to find effective strategies to control criminal networks. The effectiveness of disruption strategies is known to depend on both network topology and network resilience. However, as these criminal networks operate in secrecy, data-driven knowledge concerning the effectiveness of different criminal network disruption strategies is very limited. By combining computational modeling and social network analysis with unique criminal network intelligence data from the Dutch Police, researchers discovered, in contrast to common belief, that criminal networks might even become ‘stronger’, after targeted attacks.

The “Making A Difference African Community Service Award” was developed to honor persons who are making significant contributions to their community through their time, actions, talents and dedication (outside any volunteer work done for their employer).  The honoree selected should serve as a role model for compassion, and service and be striving to make the world a better place. He/ she should have a passion for helping others in his/her community.

Below are some of the pictures as captured during the African Community Service Award at Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia last Saturday night. 40561778_257411504906808_6872870619122237440_n

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William Mathis: What Americans Think About Their Schools

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In the past, Reps. Oliver Olsen, of Londonderry, Adam Greshin, of Warren, and Laura Sibilia, of Dover, signed a nine-page letter and issued a news release calling for more transparency and accountability by the board. They expressed concern that board member William Mathis worked for a national education organization based in Colorado that receives funding from teachers unions and that he has written policy papers raising civil rights questions about charter schools and voucher policies.

What Americans Think About Their Schools

William J. Mathis

“Schools are not as good as they were in my day. Kids had to mind then. Not like today. Things are out of control.” Said in a variety of ways, over half the population agrees. The truth is that schools are a lot better in many ways — and worse in others.

Among the better ways, since 1971, when reliable records became available, 9 and 13 year olds have registered steady improvement in reading and math while minority students are closing the achievement gaps. The national graduation rate is at an all-time high of 84% and it has steadily increased since we passed 50% in 1948. Serving needy children is now the law of the land. There is less smoking, bullying and drinking. That is not a bad picture.

But the citizens have reason to see it differently.

On the nightly news, the latest school shooting will be the lead and the villain will be glorified with name, picture and amateur psychoanalysis (Note to Media: Don’t give the perpetrators personalized attention). School lockdowns, police tactical squad exercises, allegations of impropriety, privatization lobbyists, religious objectors, sports parents, angry parents, gun toting teachers, juvenile drug pushers, opioids, school closing controversies, publicity seeking politicians, and discrimination charges all find their way into the headlines and ooze into our collective psyche.

To get an even handed picture of the public attitudes toward education, Phi Delta Kappa, an honorary education society, sponsors an independent national poll each year. This year, it has some positive results and some things we should worry about. Perhaps the most important finding in this time of calls for charter schools and privatization is 78% of Americans prefer to reform the existing public school system rather than replace it with something else. This is the highest support level in the past 20 years and is an affirmation of the public’s will to look to the common good. Perhaps people are concerned about the fragmenting of the values that held us all together, the things that make us a nation.

As elections get closer, the perennial question of taxes is raised. Here we might be surprised. Even though the single biggest cost of education is teacher salaries and benefits, two-thirds of the citizenry think that teachers are underpaid while “an overwhelming 73% of Americans say teacher pay in their community is too low” and 73% would support teachers going out on strike for higher salaries, including about 6 in 10 Republicans. This is the highest support for teacher pay seen in the 50 years of the poll. For the last seventeen years, the lack of funding has been named as the biggest problem facing their local schools.

The citizenry also shows a strong commitment to equality even as the news brings us disturbing pictures of some folks wanting to refight the civil war. There should be extra programs and resources for children with special needs say 60% of the sample. The public also realizes that the achievement gap is also the opportunities gap. While recognizing the racial and geographic differences, the root problem is the income gap. We should be disturbed about the increasing segregation of schools and society. Low-income areas have lower expectations, lesser resources, and lesser achievement.

As an educator the most discouraging finding is that parents don’t want their children to be teachers. The public, nevertheless, has high regard for teachers but that does not translate into a livable wage for half the teachers in the country, reports Education Week. Teacher benefits are better than what are provided in other fields but the astronomical increase in medical and prescription costs is pushing negotiators to ask the teachers to pay an ever increasing share. Add a crushing college loan debt and the field becomes a poor economic choice. Teachers fundamentally like their work but the finances and ever increasing laws generate a bureaucratic deterrent. We face teacher and administrator shortages in a state that is losing student population.

As a society, we can be proud of our educational system and we honor our teachers. Large crises loom on the horizon particularly as manufacturing is off-shored, middle class jobs are eliminated, medical costs threaten people’s ability to afford care and as our nation ages. Of course, the answer is investing in our future and providing the skills and opportunities a new generation needs to sustain our nation and our planet.

The fiftieth Phi Delta Kappan poll can be found at http://pdkpoll.org/results

William J. Mathis is the managing director of the National Education Policy Center and Vice-Chair of the Vermont State Board of Education. The views expressed are not necessarily the opinions of any group with which he is affiliated.

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National Education organization based in Colorado that receives funding from teachers unions and that has various groups and persons have written policy papers raising civil rights questions about charter schools and voucher policies.

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Good News! Governor Brown Signs Bill Banning For-Profit Charters! (With a Caveat)

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California Governor Jerry Brown speaks to reporters at the California State Capitol.
(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images).

Julian Vasquez Heilig reports that Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to ban for-profit charters. This is very good news. In 2015, he vetoed such a bill.

Now, here’s hoping that the Legislature can pass (and the governor will sign) a bill requiring accountability and transparency in all charters, including a ban on nepotism and conflicts of interest.

The momentum for this legislation was reignited by great reporting on K12 Inc. by reporter Jesse Calefati of the San Jose Mercury News in 2016. Give credit where it is due. Be thankful for freedom of the press!

There was some debate whether Jerry Brown would sign the legislation. The following is a statement from CFT President Joshua Pechthalt on California Governor Jerry Brown signing AB 406:

AB 406 was sponsored by the California Federation of Teachers and authored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (AD-7) and co-authored by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (AD-15).

“The education of our children should not be a profit making industry. Assembly Bill 406 is a landmark piece of legislation that will stop the practice of for-profit corporations from taking scarce resources away from our students for corporate profits. AB 406 is a critical step forward to ensure that all charter schools are accountable to our students, parents, and communities. There is still much work to be done to ensure that all charter schools in California are held to the same financial transparency and accountability laws as our traditional public schools.”

As California goes, so goes the nation…

PS:

An ally in California says this is not as big a deal as it seems. She writes:

“I just can’t understand all of the excitement about this given that there really aren’t any for profit charters left in CA anyway. This bill was approved by the Callifornia Charter Schools Association who were already celebrating and promoting that there are no for profit charters in CA. For profit charters have never really been an issue in CA, we have barely had any in the past. Of course, the vast majority of online charters contract to k12 and we all know they are a huge profit machine.”

http://www.ccsa.org/blog/2018/08/california-charter-schools-association-celebrates-landmark-legislation-banning-for-profit-charter-sc.html

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Wendy Lecker: The Movement for Public Education is Underway!

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Wendy Lecker is a senior attorney at the Education Law Center, where she oversees ELC’s school funding and school equity work in New York.  Wendy was a staff attorney at the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE), plaintiffs in New York’s landmark school funding case. She has also worked as a consultant in education finance and policy for The Rural School and Community Trust and Connecticut Voices for Children. She is currently an education columnist for Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

Wendy Lecker is a civil rights attorney at the Education Law Center who is a columnist for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

She writes about a powerful new movement:

My 18-year “career” as a public education parent ended in June as my youngest child graduated from high school. I am witness to the profound effect my children’s teachers had on their development as students and human beings — nurturing their passions, providing life lessons, sparking their interest in subjects they had never considered, and challenging their world view.

Events this past year have shown me just how much of an effect teachers have on all of us — not just those they teach.

Those of us who have been fighting for years for strong, adequately funded, integrated public schools and against reforms that are damaging to children, communities and democracy sometimes feel like we are banging our heads against the wall.

For years we presented facts about the harm of bad education policy and the benefits of good education policy. Yet politicians ignored us and continued to push failed policies. They dismissed calls for adequate resources in impoverished schools, branding these claims as “excuses” or “maintaining the status quo.”

The media narrative has also been impervious to facts, blaming impoverished schools for “failing” children when our politicians deprive them of essential resources to serve our neediest children; and accusing public school teachers of incompetence and selfishness when students do not perform well on standardized exams that were never designed to measure school or teacher quality.

This toxic public discourse seemed unending. Until teachers across the country took to the streets last spring. Teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado and Kentucky walked out of their classrooms to protest the miserable conditions in which they had to work and their students had to learn.

And the public stood with them all the way. Parents brought their children to state capitols to support their teachers, supplied food, and participated in the protests. A new Phi Delta Kappan poll reveals that 78 percent of public school parents support teacher strikes for higher pay.

Once these protests began, the media focus changed. Cameras showed deplorable conditions in impoverished classrooms, including crumbling textbooks, broken desks and chairs. Newspapers reported on the four-day school weeks in Oklahoma resulting from years of budget cuts, and the severe lack of basic educational staff and services in the states where the teachers struck. They revealed how teachers were forced to hold down second and third jobs to make ends meet.

The concerns of striking teachers extended beyond a living wage for themselves. They fought for well-funded schools, and adequate pay for all public employees. As Georgetown professor Joseph McCartin noted, “What you’re seeing is these unions acting as defenders of the public good.”

And now, voters and politicians are getting the message.

Last week, six Republican Oklahoma house members who voted against tax increases for teacher raises were ousted in primary races. Of the 19 Republicans who voted against teacher pay raises, only four will be on the ballot in November.

In Georgia, democratic gubernatorial primary winner Stacey Abrams openly declares that she doesn’t want to be Georgia’s “education governor” — she wants to be Georgia’s “public education governor.” She advocates increased investment in public schools and opposes privatization schemes that drain resources from them.

On Tuesday, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum won a surprise victory in Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Gillum credits his public school education for much of his success in life and supports increasing investments in public schools, including raising teachers’ starting salary to $50,000.

Educator David Garcia, the Democratic candidate for governor in Arizona, vowed to “end destructive privatization schemes that drain money out of classrooms, and … to invest in our teachers and classrooms once again.”

Longtime public school supporter Ben Jealous is Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Teachers are running for office across the nation, including a former National Teacher of the Year, Waterbury’s Jahana Hayes, who won the primary for the U.S. House of Representative in Connecticut’s fifth congressional district.

Public education, an issue usually ignored by politicians, is suddenly taking center stage in political campaigns. I attribute this conscious embrace of public education by political candidates to our teachers, who put their careers on the line to call attention to the needs of our most vulnerable students and communities.

So as this school year begins, as a parent I want to thank Stamford’s teachers for helping me raise capable, tolerant, and independent adults. As a citizen, I want to thank America’s teachers for defending a precious democratic institution, our public schools, and in the process, for giving me hope that our democracy may survive after all.

It is our job now as citizens who care about public education to support the candidates who support our public schools and our teachers.

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