The race for Washington, D.C. Ward 1 representative for the State Board of Education includes Georgetown University education, inquiry and justice professor Emily Gasoi and alumnus Jason Andrean (MSB ’05).
The Nov. 6 election also includes candidate Callie Kozlak, a former public school teacher.
The elected candidate will sit on the nine-member Board of Education to advocate for educational policies affecting constituents living in Ward 1, which includes Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant and Park View. The board member is responsible for working with other members to approve District-level policies and advise the State Superintendent of Education.
Andrean, a banker active in education reform who has raised over $65,000 for the race, graduated from Georgetown with a degree in business administration and a focus on organizational leadership and change.
Gasoi began to think about running for the Board of Education in 2017 after publishing her book, “These Schools Belong to You and Me: Why We Can’t Afford to Abandon Our Public Schools,” which analyzes past efforts of educational reform and offers suggestions for reform. Following the book’s release, some education advocates approached her, recommending she consider a bid for the seat, Gasoi said in an interview with The Hoya.
“The seed got planted and when I saw that someone who doesn’t have education experience jumped in, it made me feel like there’s a lot of that these days even at the national level and that’s a problem,” Gasoi said. “Even when I looked at the board, there are only two board members who are parents of the system and only two board members who have classroom experience. I just thought that I have expertise and experiences that I could bring that aren’t really represented.”
Gasoi’s platform is focused on decreasing the educational achievement gap between different areas of the city and improving D.C.’s quality of education by developing a system that is more engaging and responsive to parents, teachers and students, Gasoi said.
To improve the quality of education, Gasoi wants to decrease the emphasis on standardizing testing in the public school system, she said.
“I want to make sure that we don’t over focus on standardized testing because I think that actually makes our schools weaker by narrowing the curriculum, and it doesn’t incentive really meeting students’ needs since we are so focused on getting test scores up,” Gasoi said.
Gasoi’s prior educational experience helping found the Mission Hill School, a democratically governed public school in Boston and she received a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.
Angelica Castoñon, a commissioner representing District 6 on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A on issues such as neighborhood safety, construction and traffic, endorsed Gasoi because of her experience in education and her connection to the D.C. education system.
“When I heard that Emily was running, I was so thrilled because I know Emily is a lifelong educator, she started up her own school, she’s advised other educators in a mentor capacity, and she continues to teach to this day,” Castañon said in an interview with The Hoya. “All of this made me be just so in awe of Emily.”
More voices with experience in education and a record of fighting for these values will help move D.C. schools forward, Ward 8 Board of Education representative Markus Batchelor said in an interview with The Hoya.
“Her experience within itself I think is important, but Emily has also demonstrated a willingness to talk honestly about where we are as a school system and where we need to go, even when it goes against the grain of special interests who have had an increasingly heavy hand in State Board of Education races and political races,” Batchelor said. “To really … be willing to speak honestly about where we are and really present common sense solutions in spite of all that will make her tremendously valuable and would make her a very good advocate for students and families.”
Her time as a Georgetown professor has helped to further develop her interests in education advocacy and equity through her interactions with students, Gasoi said.
“Georgetown itself values ethos, which is all about social justice and working for a better world,” Gasoi said. “I think that’s very much part of my platform, as it’s a social justice platform.”