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June 6, 2012 Published in Letters/Opinions

The Importance Of Education

To The Editor:
Over the past several months, I have been knocking on doors and meeting with Alexandrians to learn their concerns in order to inform my campaign for City Council. Regardless of age, race, socio-economic status or family dynamic, I have noticed one thing is on a lot of minds: education and the state of our schools.

People throughout the city are concerned about the quality of Alexandria’s education system, especially as it compares to surrounding municipalities like Arlington and Fairfax. As the profile of Virginia’s universities rises, our students are not just competing with other students from the Commonwealth, but the best and the brightest from around the country and the globe.

I’m fully advocating for increased access for Alexandria students to pre-K education so every child is coming to school ready and able to learn. In order to have a successful community that is long-term sustainable, we need to educate our students to be community leaders, teachers, doctors, lawyers, ministers, police and good employees in whatever career path they choose.

Talking about the importance of education is a great academic exercise but the time for just talking is over. Our City Council needs to hold the School Board to greater fiscal responsibility when it comes to our education system. Given the amount of taxpayer dollars invested in education, and our per pupil spending is the second highest among Northern Virginia school districts, our students should be performing at or above surrounding municipalities. If elected to Council, demanding this level of accountability will be a priority.

On June 12, Alexandria voters have the opportunity to place a school administrator with current experience and expertise in educating students into the city council discussions, to tackle funding and capacity issues in our schools.

In addition to pre-K access and fiscal accountability, there is one program type that has the greatest impact on students and the community – the expansion of the school day through out-of-school activities. Out-of-school activities increase the complexity and extent of the educational experience while providing a community activity that keeps kids of the streets and in a constructive environment.

Based on my personal experience within the educational system and conversations with Alexandrians, I have shaped my campaign’s education policy to reflect these ideals and formulated them into actionable items for the City Council. With everyone in our city talking about education, we need a City Council member with the expertise to help enact a solid game on how to build a tradition of academic excellence in our schools. I hope you will vote for me on June 12!

John Taylor Chapman
School administrator and democratic candidate for Alexandria City Council

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