Democrats for Education Reform Announces Endorsements for Key 2016 D.C. City Council Primaries

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April 6, 2016

Democrats for Education Reform Announces Endorsements for Key 2016 D.C. City Council Primaries
Three Candidates Tapped for Commitment to D.C. Students

Today, the Democrats for Education Reform District of Columbia chapter (DFER DC) announced its endorsement of three D.C. City Council candidates who will seek the nomination in the June 14th Democratic primary. The organization will support Democrats Brandon Todd (Ward 4), Vincent Gray (Ward 7), and LaRuby May (Ward 8) for their work promoting education reform efforts in their wards and across the city.

“DFER is proud to endorse these three candidates, who share a deep commitment to ensuring equity and excellence across the District’s public schools. Moreover, these candidates have a deep understanding of the policy issues and of the urgency we must apply to our work to maintain and accelerate progress in D.C. schools,” said Jason Andrean, advisory board member of DFER DC.

A recent poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group and commissioned by the nonprofit group Education Reform Now, a think tank affiliated with Democrats for Education Reform, suggests that improving the quality of public schools is a top priority for District voters in 2016. Although 6 in 10 voters surveyed agreed that the quality of D.C. schools has improved under recent reforms, 7 in 10 voters still believe that the progress has been lopsided, with significant gaps remaining between schools in lower-income and upper-income neighborhoods.

Todd and May, two reform advocates on the Council, were endorsed by DFER in the April 2015 special election. May has championed initiatives benefiting local public school children, such as extending the Kids Ride Free program to rail as well as bus — a key investment and significant win spearheaded by Mayor Muriel Bowser. Todd was celebrated in March 2015 as DFER’s Reformer of the Month for his commitment to public school quality in both the district and charter sectors, a commitment he has brought to the Education Committee of the Council.

Gray, who served as mayor of Washington, D.C., from 2010 to 2014, is a longtime champion of education reform with extensive education policy experience as a legislator on the Council. His mayoral administration prioritized education reforms such as continued expansion of public pre-k, creation of the common school enrollment lottery, and the leasing of vacant city buildings to public charter schools.

“D.C. has made great strides in creating parity in its public schools,” said Shavar Jeffries, National President of Democrats for Education Reform. “But despite all the hard work done to reform the system, disparities still persist in resources and performance between affluent students and those who are economically disadvantaged. While we have much work to do, DFER supports these three distinguished leaders because they prioritize student needs before politics and will not stop fighting until every child gets the high-quality public education they deserve, no matter their zip code.”


DFER’s District of Columbia chapter was founded in 2015. Its statement of beliefs and the local advisory board list can be found here.

2016 DFER Candidate Endorsements for the D.C. Council

Councilmember Brandon Todd
Running for re-election in Ward 4.

A third-generation Washingtonian and a product of the District’s public schools, Brandon Todd has proven himself to be an advocate for expanding access to high-quality schools both in his ward and across the District. He is a strong proponent of school choice for D.C. families and, in his first year on the Council, he made a point to visit every public and charter school in his Ward. His council office has made Ward 4 school facilities a priority, working closely with public schools undergoing modernization.

With education reform as a central issue in his campaign platform, Todd was first elected to the Council in an April 2015 special election with DFER’s support. Todd was named DFER’s “Reformer of the Month” in March 2015. We expect Todd to continue to be a champion for D.C. students in a full four-year term on the Council.

Vincent Gray
Running for election in Ward 7.

Former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is a champion of education reform in the District who has proven himself to be a strong leader and legislator on the Council. A native Washingtonian, Gray was first elected to the Ward 7 seat on the Council in 2005. He served as chairman of the Council before being elected mayor in 2010.

As mayor, Gray continued, and accelerated, education reform efforts across the city. His mayoral administration created MySchoolDC, a common lottery that simplified the application process for families applying to both district schools and charter schools. The Gray administration also partnered with DCPS and the Public Charter School Board to create the annual citywide School Equity Reports, which requires all schools to report on measures of educational equity, such as attendance, discipline, and academic growth.

Gray is a long-time champion of early childhood education. While serving as Chairman of the Council, he spearheaded the creation of universal pre-K for young students across the city. He later expanded the program under his mayoral administration, creating unprecedented educational opportunities for young District families.

Education remains a central policy priority for Gray as he enters the race for Ward 7. We expect him to return to the Council in 2017 with a deep commitment to educational quality and equity both in Ward 7 and across the District.
Councilmember LaRuby May
Running for re-election in Ward 8.

An early childhood educator and reform advocate, LaRuby May has extensive experience in education. Early childhood education has been a priority for May since she served as Executive Director of the Vision of Victory Child Development Center, a high-performing non-profit early childhood education center in Ward 8. On the Council, May played an integral role in founding the Council Women’s Group, which will focus intently on improving early childhood education options, along with other issues facing young mothers and their children.

Beyond early childhood education, May has committed herself to expanding access to quality schools to all students. In 2012, she co-founded the Community College Preparatory Academy, the first adult charter school in Ward. On the Council, she has championed initiatives benefiting all public school children, such as extending the Kids Ride Free program to rail as well as bus, a key investment for students travelling to school. DFER believes that in a full four-year term on the Council, May will continue her work advocating for the students of Ward 8 and across the city.

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Paid for by Democrats for Education Reform – DC PAC.
840 First Street NE, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20002. Treasurer: Catharine Bellinger. A copy of our report is filed with the Director of Campaign Finance of the District of Columbia Board of Elections.


CONTACT: Catharine Bellinger,