MY VIEW/Marc Williams – Seizing the opportunity for all of us

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On August 12, the voters of Alexandrias District B will be selecting a new school board member to fill a vacant seat.

This will be an important election, and I am running for this office because I want to continue to serve the Alexandria community as an advocate for children.

I believe that I can make a difference.  My wife, Nancy, and I have three children Jack, Ford, and Bridget– attending Minnie Howard Ninth Grade Center, George Washington Middle School, and George Mason Elementary School, respectively. 

Our children have very different learning styles as well as different educational needs. Each night at the dinner table, I gain tremendous insights about whats wrongas well as whats rightabout our schools. For the past few years, Ive worked behind the scenes to provide all students with an opportunity for more rigorous curriculum. My proudest, most recent accomplishment was leading the community effort to work with the board to create open enrollment honors classes in middle school.

After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1989 I went into private practice.  I joined IBM Corporation 11 years ago and served as IBM’s U.S. national/homeland security counsel for 8 years. Currently, I am part of IBM’s Governmental Programs group, where I am responsible for IBM’s global intellectual property policy. My work at IBM has given me skills that will be very valuable for service on the school board.  In particular, the emphasis at IBM is on collaborating and building consensus to achieve results.

As a part of these personal and professional experiences, I have a track record of building consensus and working collaboratively toward a common goal abilities critical to this important position. As an Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) parent, I have the perspective, desire and willingness to work for the benefit, the education and the growth of all of our children.

Because of my involvement and familiarity with the issues facing the school board, I can step into the vacant position and make a contribution right away.

I believe that this is truly a promising and critical moment for ACPS. The success of our children and our school system affects all aspects of our lives as Alexandrians, whether you are a parent, a grandparent, or a concerned citizen. We have a new superintendent, Dr. Morton Sherman, who aspires for Alexandria to lead the nation in public education; a beautiful, high-tech and environmentally-friendly high school; and positive momentum from improvements, such as open enrollment honors classes for middle-school language arts and social studies, that have been implemented within the past year.

We must seize this opportunity for all of us (students, teachers, administrators, the school board and the community) to work together to believe in every child and move our system to the next level of excellence.

I believe that its essential that we elect an individual who can build consensus, promote unity, and foster open communication among all community stakeholders.

For too long our school community has been distracted by divisiveness and acrimony. Now is the time for all of us to look to the future and work toward a common purpose. I pledge to make decisions based on what is best for our school system as a whole.

This means looking at issues from all sides, and once a decision has been made, holding all of usboard members, administrators, parents, teachers and studentsaccountable.  We must tap into our whole community to succeed. I will work to unify around this mission and promote open communication with and among all stakeholders, especially our teachers who can give us great ideas on how to truly improve classroom instruction for the benefit of all the students.

I believe that, now more than ever, we need school board members who will be good stewards of our tax dollars. Many Alexandrians question whether we have the right budgetary mix between resources committed to the classroom and resources committed to central administration. We should always have a bias toward spending that has the largest direct impact on classroom learning. We should rebuild our budget from the ground up to focus our resources on classroom instruction and provide what every child needs to succeed.

I believe that every child can aim high and that every child can succeed, whether they are at-risk or have special needs, are formally identified as gifted or are among the students often described as in the middle. Our students are growing up in a world far different from the one most of us grew up in. The advent of the Internet means that they will compete for jobs with their counterparts across the globe. 
 
To prepare them to compete, we must make sure that we have high academic standards and give all of our students what they need to achieve. Perhaps most important is to give them the highest quality teachers and a curriculum that fosters creativity and critical thinking, and instills in every student a lifelong love of learning.
 
We have almost all of the pieces in placea promising, new instructional leader as incoming superintendent; highly-skilled teachers and administrators; students who are eager to learn; and a welcoming environment for children to learn. But we still need curriculum that excites and engages students, deeper parent involvement, and leadership on the school board that has the best interests of all of our students at heart. 

I want to put my experience and abilities to work on the school board and help move our school system to the next level of excellence. I believe that all students can achieve and that we must give each one of them the opportunities to do so. 

For every child to succeed, we must believe in every child.

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