The recently released Nation's Report Card provided a glimpse of the significant learning loss American students are facing since the pandemic. Voters across the DMV are interested to know how their local officials plan to help their children recover.
As COVID-19 crippled the country, several school districts in the area fought passionately against government sanctions. Some school boards attempted to lengthen mandates for as long as they could.
Candidates have turned school shutdowns and masking policies in schools into talking points to rile up their bases.
Hot-button education issues like critical race theory being taught in schools, transgender student rights, and school safety are all on the ballot Nov. 8.
Here are where candidates across the DMV stand on the issue. Jump to your jurisdiction: D.C. | Maryland | Virginia
Mayor Muriel Bowser and her administration take pride in reforming D.C.’s education system. While she has introduced plenty of initiatives to spark growth and address disparities within schools, recent test scores show lots of room for improvement.
Throughout her eight years in office, Bowser has invested millions of dollars into D.C. Public Schools and public charter schools. In February, she announced a $200 million increase to the public education budget, which includes a $36 million Recovery Fund for the 2023 school year.
The latest test scores for D.C. Public Schools students have been negative, according to the 2021-22 District of Columbia Statewide Assessment Results
Stacia Hall (R)
Stacia Hall believes that every D.C. student deserves the opportunity to receive an excellent education. According to her website, she, like many local Republican candidates, feels strongly about parents having the right to make choices regarding their kids' education. The Miami native is a mother of a D.C. public school student. That experience, she says, "inspired her commitment to school choice" and motivates her stances on many issues. As mayor, Hall states on her website that she will oppose any attempts to unionize or overregulate charter schools. If voters choose her, she also says she will spend education funds in appropriate places.
Hall told FOX 5 in June that despite being a Republican, she believes D.C. residents are looking for another option that can be a voice for them.
"Education is not one size fits all. We have to restore vocational training in schools," Hall said during a debatemoderated by The Washington Informer. "By the time kids get in middle school, that’s when we should know we have got to start addressing some life skills and start addressing emotional issues with our children."
During FOX 5’s forum with both Maryland gubernatorial candidates, Dan Cox said that he wants to expand the boost program and expand school choice. The Republican nomineealso said he will eliminate the "divisive curriculum" that consists of teaching gender identity politics from pre-k on up.
As a member of the Maryland General Assembly, Cox introduced legislation to end the "State of Emergency" to demand in-person schooling and provide direct grants to families whose schools were shut down.
"Our schools need to have the opportunities for reading, writing, and arithmetic, S.T.E.M. technology to make our kids the best and brightest on the face of the earth and compete with the international community that we need to compete with. Instead, we see a lot of indoctrination," Cox told FOX 5’s Jim Lokay on "The Final 5."
Cox has also supported legislation to expand school resource officers in schools and "harden up" Maryland schools.Wes Moore (D)
During FOX 5’s forum, Moore stated that he wants kids in Maryland to start school earlier. He's a proponent of having pre-K for every child in need and wants to create better pathways to recruit and retain educators in Maryland classrooms.
On the topic of transgender rights for students, Moore said that it’s important to him for the youth to feel protected everywhere they go. The Democratic nominee told FOX 5 that he doesn’t believe Maryland schools need to be armed when asked about school resource officers.
"At the same time, I also understand that we have got to do a better job of creating safe environments for all of our children," he said.
The Republican candidate for attorney general is running on a platform to "prosecute, secure, defend, restore, and protect."
Like several other local Republican candidates, Peroutka is concerned with what he believes kids are being taught in Maryland schools. A campaign ad on his Facebook states that Peroutka, who was once a member of the neo-Confederate League of South – a white nationalist organization – would prosecute public officials who have exceeded their lawful authority and have violated their God-given, constitutionally-protected liberties of Marylanders.
The far-right politician’s views on education and many other issues are rooted in his religious beliefs. According to Peroutka, "There is a God. Our rights come from him. The purpose of government is to protect God-given rights."
During a September interview on WAMU Radio (88.5 FM), the Republican candidate for AG was asked if he still believes that public schools are a "plan in the Communist Manifesto," and he said that if Marylanders elect him he would "'dis-establish' the existing system."
"All education, to one degree or another, is indoctrination," he said. "The washing of children’s brains. I’m not necessarily saying brainwashing is bad, because every education system brainwashes in some sense — but I believe that those decisions need to be made by local people."Anthony Brown (D)
Anthony Brown is a current Congressman elected to serve Maryland’s 4th Congressional District.
From 2007 to 2015, he was Maryland’s Lt. Governor. During that time, his website states that he fought to increase investments in Maryland schools so that every child could receive a world-class education.
Brown has an extensive record of supporting legislation that gives schools and educators more resources. He voted for the "Educators Expense Deduction Modernization ACT," which aims to increase the deduction for educators’ expenses from $250 to $500, and also supported a bill aimed at bridging the racial divide in public education.
As a member of the House, Brown helped pass an amendment to help expand the pool of talented mental professionals in our schools, per his campaign site. He supported additional funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and helped pass the "Safe Routes to School Expansion Act," which strives to ensure all students have a safe route to get to school.
Similar to many Republicans running for office throughout the country, Chris Chaffee has made it known that he is not a fan of government regulations on schools.
The Senate candidate wrote a letter on his campaign website, which lays out many of his views. Chaffee says he wants to promote higher education for every American and send them to either trade schools or colleges.
He believes that children have lost too much of their education since the pandemic and that teachers worked tirelessly and tried everything they could to bring them up to speed.
"We need resources for counseling and social workers to ease the stress and anxiety going forward from COVID," Chaffee wrote. "We need to see children smile again and not filled with fear. Our children are counting on us to help them succeed."Chris Van Hollen (D)
Chris Van Hollen has served in the U.S. Senate since 2017. Before that, he spent 15 years in the House, representing Maryland's 8th Congressional District.
Having spent over two decades as a member of Congress, Van Hollen has had a say in several instrumental bills, including the Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act of 2022, the HBCU Partners Act, and the American Rescue Plan, which he fought to make sure included more resources to combat the digital divide in schools.
Van Hollen proclaims via his campaign website that "there’s nothing more essential for our future success — as individuals, families, and a nation — than providing a quality education for every child."
The Senator believes that education is the foundation of ensuring more and better economic opportunities, and it’s why he vows to expand educational opportunities from pre-K through affordable college and job training.
"As Maryland’s next U.S. Senator, that commitment to education will be unwavering," Van Hollen states.
The Harvard University graduate has also fought to support low-income students and students with disabilities through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and introduced legislation to strengthen community schools that provide a well-rounded curriculum and wrap-around services from health care to nutrition for children and families.
Van Hollen believes that high school grads should have options to pursue their ambitions. He’s supported debt-free college options, affordable student loans, and apprenticeships for those who choose not to move on to higher education.
Jeff Warner is a Greenbelt, Maryland-based pastor who, for decades, worked with the campus ministry at the University of Maryland.
Warner says he is pro-student and pro-teacher. On his campaign website, the Kent State graduate highlights his stance on school choice, pointing to failure rates in local public schools.
"Your child’s school participation should not be determined by income or zip code, but by parental choice," Warner’s website reads. "Good schools will flourish and under-performing schools will improve or go away because we want our children to get the best education. I firmly want to stand with you and for you to choose the school that is best for your family."Glenn Ivey (D)
If elected, Ivey shared on social media that he plans to fight for increased federal funds for public education, which he hopes will help him close the gap between what teachers and schools have and what they need.
Ivey has listed six actions regarding improving education in Maryland on his campaign site. If he wins the House seat, Ivey says he will work to expand universal pre-K, support HBCUs, increase public school teachers’ salaries, make community college free, provide relief for college debt, and increase apprenticeships for high school and community college students.
Having served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates since 2011, Neil Parrott has already made decisions about the state's education system.
The Republican House candidate recently sponsored two bills that could impact Maryland schools. The Maryland Parental Rights Act would prohibit an employee of a school district from withholding certain information relating to a child's health or well-being from the child's parent or guardian. It would also require each county board to establish and adopt a certain policy regarding the promotion of parent involvement in the public school system.
The Public High Schools - Financial Literacy Curriculum bill would require the State Board of Education to develop curriculum content for a half-semester-long course in financial literacy and require each county board of education to implement the financial literacy curriculum content in every public high school in the county. The legislation would also mandate every student in the state to complete a course in financial literacy in order to graduate from a public high school.
Parrott also believes that philosophies like Critical Race Theory (CRT) have no place in schools.
"CRT is institutional racism," Parrot writes. "We should work on unifying our country instead."
Parents being in complete control of their children's education is a principle Parrott has promoted throughout his campaign. He thinks they should be able to see the curriculum and to be able to communicate with the Board of Education about it. He is against transgender athletes competing in their desired sport.David Trone (D)
The incumbent candidate, David Trone, has represented Maryland's 6th District in the House since 2019. On his campaign website, Trone highlights his time on the Education and Labor Committee. The Wharton School graduate who co-owns Total Wine & More says he ensured that Congress was thinking long-term and investing in students, educators, and schools. He sponsored a bill in partnership with Senator Cardin modeled after the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.
Trone has also introduced legislation to provide comprehensive mental health to every student and hopes to get the bill passed.
"Too often politicians are focused on doing what helps them win the next election when they should be focused on what helps the next generation," Trone said via his website. "We need to innovate and try new approaches, set high standards for students, teachers, and administrators, and pay teachers as if our future depends on it – because it does."
The Democratic nominee outlines on his website five issues he plans to address if elected. Trone wants to invest in teachers, offer universal pre-K, close the national achievement gap, make colleges more affordable, and community college free of charge.
If elected, Coll hopes to serve on the United States House Committee on Education and Labor. He believes that effective educational programs begin at the earliest age. He wants to help children with special needs at an early age to ensure they're able to reach their highest potential.
The district Coll wants to serve includes counties — Montgomery, Carroll, and Frederick — with some of the best schools in the nation. Coll says they're on the decline, and he wants to provide more educational options to parents and strengthen their rights within state schools. He also wants to end CRT in public schools.
Coll supports early childhood education and plans to increase funding for the next generation with a focus on supporting state and local educational activities.Jamie Raskin (D)
Congressman Jamie Raskin is the incumbent candidate who represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District in the House. Congressman Raskin has held the seat since 2017.
Raskin has been a professor of constitutional law for 25 years and says he is "passionately committed to the educational success of all young people."
Raskin has spent time volunteering at his three kids’ schools in Silver Spring and Takoma Park. As a three-term state Senator, Raskin helped pass legislation to fully fund public education, and increase desperately needed school construction dollars. He also supported farm-to-schools legislation to improve school nutrition.
"I am fighting for debt-free college education as a national priority," Raskin said via his website. "We need this new generation of creative, culturally aware, and technologically savvy young people to teach, to start businesses, to research, to work with seniors, to solve environmental problems, and to confront the stubborn problems of our day after they graduate. Let’s stop saddling and hobbling our young people with mountains of debt that constrain their ability to thrive."
Along with congressmen Van Hollen, Trone, and Brown, Raskin helped allocate $16,990,815 in federal funding for Maryland schools to foster safer and more supportive learning environments that address the evolving social, emotional, physical and mental health needs of students.
When several HBCUs received bomb threats in the Maryland, D.C. area Raskin held a bipartisan hearing to examine ways the federal government can support the schools facing threats to student safety on campuses.
"The perpetrators behind these acts obviously targeted Black colleges and universities, seeking to disrupt and terrorize the students and their families, the faculty and their families, and the staff and their families," Subcommittee Chairman Raskin said in an opening statement at the hearing. "No other colleges or universities have been targeted and disrupted in the same fashion as HBCUs were on that day."
Yesli Vega is the Donald Trump-endorsed Republican candidate hoping to represent Virginia's 7th District in the House.
In a televised campaign advertisement, Vega says that she never has and never will co-parent with the Federal Government.
She has taken the GOP's stance on parent rights in schools and is against certain "ideologically based education that looks at everything through the divisive prism of race."
"As an American of Hispanic descent, my children will not be led to believe they’re oppressed in the greatest country in the world. Nor will we allow them to be told that their white friends and classmates are their oppressors," Vega states on her website. "Divisive ideologies like this aren’t the only issues with our educational system, but they’re a consequence of a larger movement which seeks to lower educational standards and place our children behind the curve."
Vega is pro-school choice and believes competition in education is needed more than ever.
"As your voice in Washington, I will be a fierce advocate for parental rights and allow money earmarked for education to follow our children to receive the education best suited for them – whether it be public, private, charter, vocational or home school. We must fund students, not systems."Abigail Spanberger (D)
Abigail Spanberger is the incumbent candidate running for re-election as a member of the House. She supports public education and teachers and wants to tackle student debt, per her website.
Rep. Spanberger views public schools as the social and economic backbone of Virginia. She says she is working in Congress to give every Virginia student access to a high-quality public education, and she is opposed to any effort to privatize the public education system.
Spanberger believes that dedicated teachers and increased educational resources set Virginia students on a path toward greater economic opportunities. She wants Congress to do more to address educational disparities among underserved populations. If elected, she says she would work to pass legislation that makes sure teachers have secure retirements.
During her time in the private sector, Spanberger worked with higher education officials to improve their outreach to a diverse range of students and to lower tuition costs. In Congress, she has also advocated for practical solutions to address the growing student loan debt crisis. She helped introduce the Student Loan Disclosure Transparency Act, which would require monthly disclosures of student loan debt information to borrowers.
Spanberger wants voters to know that she is committed to working with educators, students, parents, plus college and university administrators to find innovative ways to lessen student debt burdens, while also maintaining the range of educational opportunities available to Commonwealth students.
In addition to the aforementioned bills she has supported in Congress, Spanberger cosponsored legislation to encourage more women and minority students to enter STEM fields and introduced bipartisan legislation to allow head start programs to receive federal work study dollars and employ more future educators.
Karina Lipsman is a Ukrainian refugee immigrant running as a Republican to hold Virginia's 8th District seat in the House.
Lipsman aligns with many of her party's ideologies on education. She believes parents must have transparency into their child's education, and says she will fight to make sure the rights of parents are upheld.
Her website states that Lipsman believes in school choice and will never support lowering educational standards for partisan politics.
"I also realize every educational journey is unique. Some skills are learned outside the classroom. A four-year degree may not suit every student or their career aspirations and should not be a prerequisite for employment in this Country," she said. "As your Congresswoman, I will champion community colleges, technical schools, and vocational training programs to ensure students are empowered to choose a path that fits their unique needs. I will always protect parental rights to choose schools based on what is best for their children's needs, including public, private, parochial, charter schools, and homeschooling."Donald Beyer (D)
Don Beyer has represented Virginia's 8th District in the House since 2015. He spent two terms between 1990-1998 as the Commonwealth's Lieutenant Governor.
In Congress, Rep. Beyer says he has been committed to protecting and strengthening public schools and supporting educators. He believes that quality education is measured in more than just test scores.
Beyer states on his campaign website that he wants to ensure teachers have the support they need and the flexibility to be creative and are not stuck teaching to the test.
He believes schools must maintain high standards in school nutrition and ensure that students still have access to meals in the summer.
"I will continue to fight to uphold fundamental federal civil rights protections by advocating for robust federal funding for Title I and IDEA as well as ensuring that the Office of Civil Rights is working proactively with colleges and universities to address sexual assault," Beyer writes. "I oppose any initiative (like vouchers or school choice) that would undermine our public schools or re-segregate our society."
"Schools are not a marketplace; we need all of our schools to be successful so that regardless of what school our children attend they have access to a quality education," he adds.
Beyer has sponsored bills such as the Post Grad Act, which aims to protect students by terminating graduate rates that add to debt. The bill authorizes graduate and professional students to receive subsidized Stafford Loans since they have been ineligible to receive subsidized Stafford Loans since July 1, 2012.
Beyer believes in doing more to address successful post-secondary pathways that recognize career and technical education. He recently sponsored the Workforce and Education Partnership Act of 2022, which allows certain Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grants allocated to states and local areas to be used to develop partnerships between educational institutions and employers to create or improve workforce development programs.
Cao has five children whom he chooses to homeschool along with his wife in Purcellville, Virginia. He is a Vietnamese refugee who, after bouncing around from Africa to the U.S., graduated in the inaugural class at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
Cao believes the most important weapon in America’s arsenal is allowing the American people to lead the world in technology and innovation. The Republican nominee doesn't stray too far from his party's stances on education. Cao wants students to be educated not indoctrinated, according to his campaign issues page.
"To provide our children with a quality education, schools must be open and political agendas removed from the classroom," Cao says. "I will always support parents’ rights to advocate for our children’s education without intimidation. The government does not give us rights as parents; they are our natural rights given to us by God and as such, cannot be removed."
Parents must be given options, Cao says, when schools do not meet their expectations.Jennifer Wexton (D)
Democratic candidate Jennifer Wexton is running for re-election to the House to represent Virginia's 10th Congressional District. Wexton is an attorney and both her children currently attend Loudoun County Public Schools.
Per her campaign website, Wexton says she believes strongly that every Virginian deserves a high-quality public education from their first day of pre-k to their college graduation. In the State Senate, she has advocated to eliminate unnecessary standardized tests and modernize the manner in which kids learn and are taught.
She passed legislation that will stem the school-to-prison pipeline by establishing alternatives to long-term and short-term suspensions which disproportionately affect minorities and students with disabilities.
Wexton also opposed efforts by Republicans to take away local control of schools. Her strong support for education earned her the "Solid as a Rock" award from the Virginia Education Association.
The Democratic incumbent says she's proud of the quality and standing of Virginia’s public colleges and universities, but she knows college tuition is too high.
In the Virginia Senate, Wexton sponsored bills that would create a Student Loan Refinancing Program, and the Office of Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman, which would create a resource for borrowers and oversight of loan services in Virginia. She has also supported bills that give victims of on-campus sexual violence more resources and give colleges and universities tools to prevent more assaults.
Wexton is an advocate for improving educational access and resources for low-income students and children with disabilities. She sponsored the 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act, which directs the Department of Education to make grants to local educational agencies to pay the costs of carrying out STEM education activities for girls and underrepresented minorities.