Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Improve City’s Schools

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Improve City’s Schools

On Nov. 6, our city will decide what our future will look like. As a 2018 T.C. Williams graduate and District A voter, I am here to tell you that the school board race may not be the most exciting race, or the most publicized, but it is important. Whether or not you have children in ACPS, the leaders we are putting into office at the school board level will be determining the quality of education for students like me for years to come. In the last seven years, I have sat on a student advisory board with two ACPS superintendents, seen three GW principals come and go, and watched GW go from two schools to one. I have been governed by three different T.C. Williams principals and administrations (not counting Minnie Howard), and had two T.C. Williams counselors. ACPS made me who I am, and I know that we need school leaders who will put students’ needs first.

As a former School Board Student Representative, I have also had the unique position of serving as a direct link between ACPS students and the elected body that governs them. Not only did I have the opportunity to shape school board policy, but I also felt the impact of those decisions, for better or worse. I have had coffee with almost every single candidate running in District A. I know what makes a good school board member, and I think one of your votes should go to Chris Suarez in District A.

Why? Because he has experience in the classroom. Because teachers are the only people who really know what it is like to teach a classroom of special education students or English language learners without enough funding. Teachers walk in overcrowded halls. Teachers have to grade the homework of gigantic classes. As an education policy wonk and former teacher, Chris has read research on the achievement gap and knows what the literature says on data-driven solutions. He understands that implementation is everything with restorative justice. He is not naive about T.C. Williams’ struggles with lack of diversity in AP classes. He understands that recruiting and retaining great teachers is critical to education.

I love Alexandria, ACPS, and T.C. Williams, but we have work to do. Overcrowding, aging school buildings, poor teaching, and inequitable funding are real challenges. Chris is the best person to sincerely acknowledge our struggles, equip our students and teachers with adequate resources that will allow students to thrive, and make tough calls on how to improve education in Alexandria. Education is the cornerstone of our democracy, and it is the key to the future of our city. Every tax dollar the school board spends is critical to improving the lives of Alexandria’s kids. Whether or not you have ACPS students, vote for the future of Alexandria on Nov. 6. Vote Chris Suarez in District A.

Jay Falk