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  •   Brazil, Williams Take Campaigns to School

    By Michael H. Cottman
    and Vanessa Williams

    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Friday, August 21, 1998; Page C05

    Photo of Harold Brazil
    Harold Brazil
    (File Photo)

    Calling quality education the cornerstone of his campaign, D.C. mayoral candidate Harold Brazil announced yesterday a nine-point proposal to make sweeping changes in the District's school system.

    Flanked by more than a dozen elementary school students, teachers and community leaders at John Tyler Elementary School in Ward 6, Brazil called his "Parents Bill of Rights" essential to rebuilding the school system.

    "I'm running for mayor because this campaign is about children," said Brazil, a Democrat and at-large member of the D.C. Council. "We're driving home the message that quality education is a priority of this administration. For us to meet the challenges of the next millennium, we need a mayor who is dedicated to improving our education system."

    Brazil said that if he is elected mayor, he will seek to:

  • Get guns and drugs out of schools.

  • Immediately expel disruptive and dangerous students.

  • Use the current budget surplus to repair school buildings.

  • Fully fund after-school programs.

  • Adopt tough academic standards.

  • Require criminal background checks for all school employees.

  • Install computers in every classroom.

  • Reduce class size in kindergarten through eighth grade.

  • Require that teachers be better trained.

    Brazil said that, as mayor, he could be held accountable for failures in the educational system. He did not give detailed information on how he would implement or pay for the proposals.

    Looking toward the group of elementary school students sitting in a circle near the podium, Brazil said, "We're going to be hard on you. We're going to raise the bar because we want you to learn. We need new standards for these students."

    Brazil said that his campaign staff has already telephoned 30,000 city residents to provide information on the Parents Bill of Rights.

    "We are going to have zero tolerance for guns and violence in schools," Brazil said. "You can't learn if there are guns in the schools, or you can't learn if there's violence in the schools. We're going to mount an aggressive effort."

    Another candidate in the Sept. 15 Democratic mayoral primary, Anthony A. Williams, also presented his views on educational issues yesterday.

    Photo of Anthony Williams
    Anthony Williams
    (File Photo)

    Visiting a group of high school seniors in Southwest Washington, Williams discussed his proposal to help students prepare for post-graduation employment.

    In a statement, Williams said, "I will make school-to-work initiatives a priority and will foster partnerships with labor, the public and private sectors and non-profit organizations to give our young adults the best opportunities to attain marketable skills and experiences that will successfully carry them into the work force of the 21st century."

    He proposed an apprenticeship program, which would cost about $450,000 in public and private funds, to train students in trades including electronics, engineering and masonry. The program would place coordinators in each high school to work with students and would initially target 100 students.

    The students whom Williams visited had completed a program called Quantum Opportunity Partnership this month. The program seeks to help teenagers stay in school and earn their diplomas while teaching skills to help them land jobs after graduation.

    Mayor Marion Barry, who is not seeking reelection, got into the campaign nonetheless last night when he took part in a candidates debate televised on D.C. Cable Channel 16. The forum featured Brazil and Williams as well as Democrats Jack Evans, Kevin P. Chavous and Jeffrey Gildenhorn and Republican Carol Schwartz.

    Barry (D) did not moderate the discussion, as had been advertised. But he did pitch the opening question, asking candidates to distinguish themselves and their campaigns from one another.

    Each candidate touted his or her own public record, except businessman Gildenhorn, who fell back on his usual refrain: "I'm not a politician."

    Candidates then took questions from a moderator as well as from viewers who called the television studio.

    In another development in the mayor's race yesterday, Evans received the endorsement of the Georgetown Business and Professional Association. Evans represents Ward 2, which includes Georgetown, on the D.C. Council.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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