By Steven Mosley
This past week I met an African American mom at Whitman Middle School’s Back to School Night who expressed concern because when her 8th grader graduates from Whitman she will be placed into one of the lowest-performing high schools in our district. This parent was looking for other options. She asked me if elected what I would do to give parents more options. I told her that as we work to improve Mount Vernon High School, we must also give school choice and open enrollment to all parents.
Secondly, we must bring charter schools to Fairfax County so that she and others throughout the Mount Vernon District can have more choices and not be trapped into a school based on their zip code.
This November’s ballot gives us another year to unleash our children’s potential, or keep them from opportunity. I’m Steven Mosley, and I’m running for Fairfax County School Board for the Mount Vernon District and I want to champion school choice for all our students and parents.
Recently, I participated in my first debate, where the issue of charter schools became the source of hot contention between me and my opponent. Though charter schools have a high success rate in bridging the achievement gap, my opponent, and current school board member Chair, Karen Corbett Sanders has stated “charter schools are not the right answer for Fairfax County and not the right answer for Mount Vernon.”
Did you know that school choice is the one policy proposal that has an astounding above 70 percent approval rating? It’s strong in its diversity as well, with 76 percent of Hispanics and 69 percent of African American support. This poll was released this year by The American Federation for Children and Beck Research, a Democratic polling firm.
So why do we continue to tell our children that they can “be anything they want to be” and “do anything they put their mind to” without providing the resources for them to achieve it? Too many children are forced into underperforming and overcrowded schools and thereby not efficiently set up for success.
As a result, I have released my non-partisan SMART pledge. The focus of the SMART plan is to focus on areas that have majority support. Each letter of SMART represents a campaign pledge. “M” in the pledge stands for “Make Minority Student Achievement a priority by using proven methods to bridge the achievement gap.” This should go without saying, but school choice won’t just help black and brown students; it will give more options to all families in the Mount Vernon District.
Charter schools give power back to the parent. Instead of dividing the community through redistricting, school choice gives parents options. The opportunity for parents to truly choose what school is best for their student, without negatively impacting home values which is a result of redistricting in a district with underperforming schools as we have here in the Mount Vernon District. Charter schools would also help alleviate school overcrowding that we see at West Potomac High School and other schools within our district.
As reported in The Washington Post, this current school board, led by Karen Corbett Sanders, has failed to bridge the achievement gap for the last three years. In fact, the needle hasn’t moved since 2005. This board continues to use failed methods instead of proven results. All the while, our students suffer.
This November 5, you have an opportunity to change that with your vote.
This November let’s change the Board, not the boundaries. If elected, I pledge to support and approve the creation of charter schools in Fairfax County, which will help bridge the achievement gap and alleviate the overcrowding of schools.
Charter schools are a win-win. A win for parents. A win for the community, and a win for bridging the achievement gap.
This commentary first appeared in CoveringTheCorridor.com.
Steven Mosley is the Fairfax GOP-endorsed candidate for school board in Mount Vernon. To learn more, or to get involved, visit StevenDMosley.com.