First chairman, Congress Heights Advisory Neighborhood Committee; former board member, United Planning Organization; chairman, Ward Eight Senior Citizens Programs; first black in the District of Columbia to be granted a 7-11 Franchise; holds Bachelor of Science degree from Jackson State University.
1. Many children in the District don't have a drive for education. Children coming from other areas are excited by the District's wealth of resources -- its monuments, congressional buildings, museums -- but children here too often take them for granted. We need old fashioned attitudes toward learning -- everything should be exciting. All of the things children here take for granted, we should introduce as new and challenging. We also need a stronger family unit to support children and their hunger to learn. If things are not so readily attainable -- if parents deprive their kids of just a few of the things they take for granted -- children will learn that finding out more about those things is a great experience, and they will be more hungry to learn about other things. It's important that we restrict some of the privileges and advantages, such as TV-watching time, that we give to our children. Children need the desire to learn. How to instill that desire has been the subject of much research. But one thing to do is to stop giving children so much and have them go after want they want. We give children too much.
2. The environment accounts for 60 to 75 percent of what a person becomes. And, if that environment does not grow, that person cannot grow. For example, California has a laid-back attitude; people have time to function. Here, it's just the opposite. People are always rushing. You have to give children time to grow; time to find out who they are and what they want from life. Here the pressure is so great that many children, especially from Ward Eight, don't have time to find out about themselves. We have got to put money into this ward; there needs to be an economic push. Without investment, things will never change. To have any type of impact, three things must happen: (1) economic development with significant investment in housing, balanced with (2) sufficient funds for schooling, and (3) improved educational systems, including alternative schooling such as magnet programs. Note, however, that all three must happen concurrently.
3. A long range plan of research and development must be established. A task force, not appointed by the mayor, but made up of nonpartisan, concerned parents, educators and legislators, should be created to come up with ideas and programs on safety, security and teenage pregnancy. A timetable should be created for implementation of these programs. Parents must get involved. They must attend PTA meetings and take interest in the children -- not just send them to school. It is important that parents not just pop up at report card times. They should have a constant and steady relationship with teachers and school administrators.