One of the D.C. school board candidates is concerned about security in the schools. Another says there is a lack of books and teachers. A third opposes school closings, while a fourth thinks there should be a better system of evaluating how well teachers are doing their jobs.
All are in the 11th grade.
The four candidates are running to become the first nonvoting student representative on the board. The winner will serve a one-year term, and will be able to advise the other 11 board members (but not to vote on any proposals) as student representatives already do in some other area jurisdictions.
Between now and the May 26 election, to be held at Fletcher-Johnson Elementary School at Benning Road and C Street SE, the students' campaign posters and flyers will appear around city schools. There also will be two meet-the-candidate forums, one at Paul Junior High School on May 20 and another at Woodson Junior High School on May 21.
The candidates all are members of their individual schools' student governments. Last month, each school's student government chose a potential candidate, and then the governments narrowed down the number of candidates to one from each region.
The students will be elected by a congress of delegates, one from each of the city's 200 schools. The delegates were selected from among the student government representatives in each school.
"I know the needs of the D.C. public schools. I also know how to express myself and will keep an open ear for suggestions," said candidate Tanya T. Turner, 17, of Anacostia Senior High. She represents Region D, which includes parts of Anacostia, Southwest and far Southeast.
Turner said she would make school security a priority. She said she is also concerned about the way the school system lays off the younger teachers first whenever there are budget cuts.
Turner, who wants to be a physical therapist, is a member of her high school's Students With A Purpose, an organization that tries to promote scholarship, school spirit and community service. She is junior class secretary, cocaptain of the flag-twirling team and a member of the varsity tennis team.
The candidate from Region C, which includes most of Northeast, is Bobby Pitts, 16, of McKinley High. Pitts, a junior class representative, said he is concerned about the lack of books and teachers, which he said has resulted in fewer elective and advanced courses being offered to high school students.
Pitts said that as a board member he would like to work on improving student-teacher relationships. He said he would like to see student governments serve as "mediators between the faculty and students."
"I were elected, I'd go around to the different schools and see what's needed," Pitts added. Pitts, who wants to be a civil engineer, is a member of McKinley's "It's Academic" team, which participates in the television quiz show of that name.
David Russ, 16, represents Region A, which includes most of Southeast and a small section of Georgetown. He said he would try to prevent school closings. He said he is concerned about the distance some students may have to travel if their neighborhood schools close.
Russ said he would like to see the city establish more specialized schools, such as the Ellington School of the Arts. He suggested schools that concentrate on preparing students for careers in science or in writing. Russ attends the School Without Walls, a special high school in which students take courses at various locations such as museums and hospitals, learning by working side-by-side with professionals.
Russ is the historian at his school, with the job of recording all the events of the school year. He is in the History Club and on the Frisbee team, and would like to be a doctor.
Candidate Sam Frumkin, 16, of Wilson High, said he will stress his experience as the former vice president of the Student Advisory Council, a group of student representatives who offer student views to the school board on policy questions. Frumkin also was the student representative to the search committee that helped select a new school superintendent last year.
Frumkin, from Region B, which includes most of Northwest, said his position on the advisory council helped him get to know students in all parts of the city. He said he would concentrate on getting a better teacher evaluation system which would provide for more student imput.
Frumkin said he would like to keep students more informed of the proposals before the board and how they can comment on them. Frumkin is the president-elect of the Wilson student body. He said he has not yet decided on a career, but is considering medicine, international relations or business management.