CLOSING THE OPPORTUNITY GAP

We have talked about the achievement/opportunity gap for fifty years, yet dramatic differences in educational attainment continue to track along racial and income lines. Those differences perpetuate inequalities that extend over a lifetime and impact children in every facet of their lives.

I taught public school in the county for 17 years and helping students succeed is very important to me. I want to embark on a comprehensive “inside/outside” strategy that builds both stronger communities and stronger schools. Previous efforts have not been sufficiently comprehensive or systematic. As County Executive, I would work to ensure that school employees have the support and resources they need to ensure top-quality educational opportunities for all students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or economic circumstances.

I also want to significantly expand early childhood education. Children who enter school and have experienced quality early childhood programs are better prepared in terms of background knowledge, vocabulary development, and social-emotional development, which means that they are more ready to learn and need less remediation. They are less likely to need special education services, less likely to get caught up in the criminal justice system, and more likely to thrive as adults. An investment in early childhood education up front thus yields large dividends down the line, both for the students who directly benefit and for the rest of society. As County Executive, I would fight for the investments in early childhood education our county needs.

But the biggest barriers to student success remain poverty and economic inequality. I have fought hard to address those problems during my time on the County Council because I know how much of a difference added income and more stable living situations make to students’ families, and to students’ ability to thrive in school. I spearheaded the push for two minimum wage increases, the most recent of which will gradually raise Montgomery County's minimum wage to $15 an hour.

I have also been a champion of affordable housing. I worked hard to strengthen Takoma Park’s rent stabilization law when I was on the Takoma Park City Council. After I joined the County Council in 2006, I asked for the creation of the Tenant Work Group and passed legislation improving tenant protections.

I would continue to champion schools and social and economic justice as your next County Executive. In particular, I want to bring an explicit racial equity lens to all Montgomery County government decisions and advance fair scheduling legislation that will enable people to plan the rest of their lives - including education, potential other jobs, and child care - around their work obligations. I am honored to be endorsed by a wide variety of progressive organizations that share my vision of a more just society.