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Students arrive to Gunston Middle School on the first day of school (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Public Schools is kicking off the new school year with a bit of good news related to academic performance.

Last school year, students as a whole made gains in math, social studies and science, and in almost all areas, generally exceeded statewide scores, per new testing data.

Between the 2022 and 2023 school years, the percentage of students passing state tests increased by 4 points for math, 7 points for social studies and 1 point for science, according to a presentation to the School Board on Thursday. Reading remained flat and writing dropped 2 percentage points.

Black and Hispanic students, students with disabilities and those learning English, in particular, demonstrated progress. APS highlighted math pass rates that increased by 8 and 11 percentage points for Hispanic and English-language learning students, respectively.

Administrators says the data demonstrates that students are gaining ground after pandemic-era learning loss. It may also indicate long standing achievement gaps based on race, English proficiency, ability and socioeconomic status are narrowing.

Crediting teachers and new academic tools for that progress, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Gerald Mann, Jr. told the School Board on Thursday APS has its work cut out for them.

“We are seeing the work that our team is doing starting to pay dividends and recover some of the loss from the pandemic,” he said. “We’ve come a long way but we’ve got more work to do.”

Future focus areas include reading — where pass rates remained flat over last year, at 80% — and writing, which fell 2 percentage points.

Facing what one committee described a “literacy crisis,” APS overhauled how it teaches reading to elementary school students. Like other schools nationwide, APS is working to reverse years of reading instruction that critics say glossed over the basics, such as phonics, and disadvantaged students for whom reading did not come naturally.

That effort is starting to bear fruit, according to Superintendent Francisco Durán, who noted that this fall, some 91% of kindergarteners could meet benchmarks such as recognizing rhymes, words and letter sounds, up from 81% last year.

“[That] is building them up for bigger success later,” Durán said.

But this leaves a group of students, fifth grade and up, who were taught to read before these changes were made, and might still be struggling today. This year, APS is turning its attention to them.

“Our hope is that the work that we’re doing for secondary literacy this year also pays dividends in the future,” Mann said.

When School Board members asked about falling writing scores, Durán emphasized that the state test measures one type of writing: responding to a social studies or science text.

“We want students to be writers across all different types, and genres and ways,” he said. “I just want to make sure we all are aware of that because, I think long term, it could be misunderstood if we’re just speaking about writing, generically.”

Writing, more broadly, may still be a concern.

A 2019 survey of APS graduates found many graduates wished they had been better prepared for collegiate writing. School Board watchdog group Arlington Parents for Education, which recapped last week’s meeting, previously highlighted the survey, saying students were “practically begging for more… ‘writing assignments.’”

Even as the number of assigned essays increased, Mann said teachers already feel they cannot give adequate feedback on assignments.

“The biggest barrier that I’ve also heard is that ‘I just don’t have the time. I will assign it, but then I can’t give [them] appropriate feedback,'” he said.

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CCPTA President Claire Noakes speaks at the School Board meeting on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 (via Arlington Public Schools)

(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) The Arlington County Council of PTAs is criticizing plans to close Nottingham Elementary School and make it a “swing space” where students go when their school is being renovated.

In suggesting this change, the coalition of PTAs, or CCPTA, says Arlington Public Schools has not considered how little money it has in the next decade to spend on sorely needed renovations. It adds the move would disadvantage low-income, diverse neighborhoods that rely on schools for county and community-based services.

This spring, APS proposed closing Nottingham, in the Williamsburg neighborhood at 5900 Little Falls Road, and making it a swing space as early as 2026. It was part of a suite of proposed changes to solve for projected capacity imbalances: several schools below Langston Blvd are over-full while their counterparts north of the highway have many empty seats.

Nottingham was chosen because it would cost the least to retrofit — $5 million to expand its ability to receive buses — compared to other schools, county facilities or commercial buildings. APS also argued it would be more fiscally responsible to use the under-capacity buildings it currently has, rather than build a new school.

This proposal quickly rankled current and future Nottingham parents, some of whom argue APS made the decision on faulty projections of falling enrollment. The CCPTA joined their chorus during the School Board meeting last Thursday.

“Recent spending decisions and currently proposed spending projects have monopolized our bond issuance capacity until at least FY 2032, leaving insufficient funding for a major renovation,” CCPTA President Claire Noakes said in a statement released after the meeting.

She notes 17 of 37 school buildings have not had a major renovation in at least 20 years and are in need of upgrades, creating “a backlog of need.”

“The lack of available funds for a major renovation will cause the swing space to stay empty for six years, while other identified needs that could have been paid for with that $5 million will go unmet,” she continued.

The CCPTA illustrated its argument in a chart that shows how much money APS estimates it can issue in bonds for major renovations over the next decade.

It estimates a major renovation would exceed $25 million, based on estimates for one such project down the pike. The CCPTA say that APS would have to accumulate a few years of bond capacity, from Arlington County, to embark on a major renovation.

This squeeze is due to projects APS already has in the queue, including the new, forthcoming $180 million Arlington Career Center building and related plans to retrofit the current Career Center for the Montessori program now housed in the former Patrick Henry Elementary School. This building is set to be demolished and turned into a green space.

(Note: The chart below lists $7.5 million for the Career Center because this was tacked onto the project’s costs after APS approved the project via the previous Capital Improvement Plan.)

A chart from the CCPTA arguing APS will deliver a “swing space” at Nottingham at least six years before having the money to start a major renovation project (via CCPTA)

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Independent School Board candidate James ‘Vell’ Rives IV (courtesy photo)

An independent candidate for the Arlington School Board is bowing out of the race.

On Monday, four months ahead of the general election in November, James “Vell” Rives announced in an email that he was suspending his campaign. His announcement hinted that he may run again for School Board in a later election cycle.

“For various reasons, I am suspending my 2023 campaign and am instead working on a future run for Arlington County School Board,” he said in the email. “Thank you for your encouragement and support this year! For now, please stay involved in our schools, and help out where you can.”

Rives was running for the second time as an independent after a failed challenge to Democratic-endorsed candidate Bethany Zecher Sutton last year.

The psychiatrist and a member of the School Health Advisory Board — a citizen committee advising Arlington Public Schools — has campaigned on student health, improving academic performance and reducing technology use.

His opponent, Miranda Turner, who has the endorsement of the Arlington County Democratic Committee after its May caucus, will be running unopposed.

This is also Turner’s second School Board bid, losing two years ago in the Democratic endorsement caucus to now-School Board member Mary Kadera.

This year, Turner bested political newcomer Angelo Cocchiaro, who had the endorsement of outgoing School Board Chair Reid Goldstein and that of the local teachers union, the Arlington Education Association.

Ahead of the Nov. 7 general election, the first day of in-person early voting will begin on Sept. 22. The last day to apply for a mail ballot is Oct. 27.

Nottingham Elementary School (via Google Maps)

A new proposal from Arlington Public Schools (APS) would send Nottingham Elementary students to other schools and use the building to house other students temporarily displaced by school renovations.

Parents of students at Nottingham were notified of the proposal yesterday (Thursday) by APS, ahead of a School Board work session discussing the proposal last night.

Within 24 hours, some current and prospective parents mobilized and formed a group, Neighbors for Nottingham, to learn more about the proposal and formulate next steps before a potential School Board vote a year from now.

The school system says it needs a “swing space” to prepare for renovation projects and balance enrollment in North Arlington, where there are more seats than students. APS staff are currently developing a timeline and list of schools to be renovated for the 2025-2034 Capital Improvement Plan, which will be approved next June.

“By serving as swing space, our school will continue to play a vital role in supporting education in our community while other schools undergo necessary improvements,” planning staff told parents in an email, shared with ARLnow.

Elementary capacity by zone in Arlington (via Arlington Public Schools)

APS considered 61 sites before settling on the Williamsburg neighborhood school at 5900 Little Falls Road, eliminating options based on size, location and cost needed to prepare the building for young students. It says Nottingham works because enrollment is low and stable, and nearby schools can absorb many of the 413 displaced students — though APS noted that receiving schools may need to add some capacity.

If the CIP is approved next year, Nottingham could be repurposed as early as the 2026-27 school year. Students would be transferred to surrounding elementary schools such as Discovery, Jamestown, Taylor, and Tuckahoe, and staff would begin to be reassigned in the spring of 2026.

Ways to create a swing space and potential costs (via Arlington Public Schools)

Would-be parent Coco Price says she and her neighbors are devastated.

“We have been so looking forward to sending our now-toddler-age children there when they reach elementary-age in a few short years and would be sincerely crushed to see them reassigned to another Arlington school — one that is potentially either not within walking distance or not as highly-rated as Nottingham,” Price said.

The proposal could disrupt educational plans for new homeowners, like Price.

“Should the motion pass, it would… potentially drive us to consider moving to a more stable school district outside of Arlington,” she said. “We also worry how this decision would impact our home’s resale values down the line.”

Others questioned the need for this work and criticized APS for not evaluating alternatives to a “swing space” in its 272-page report.

“We didn’t see any serious discussion about options such as portable learning trailers for schools going under renovations or for temporarily displacing just the students at schools that were under renovations for the limited time period of those renovations,” would-be parent Jeff Heuwinkel told ARLnow.

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Arlington School Board candidate Miranda Turner at Alcova Heights Park in 2021 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

School Board candidate Miranda Turner has found success on her second go-round.

Following a three-day caucus process, Turner has captured the Democratic endorsement for Arlington School Board, with 1,004 votes to 332 for Angelo Cocchiaro. Turner will face at least one independent candidate in the November general election: James “Vell” Rives, who is also running for the second time.

Cocchiaro appeared to be considering dropping out of the race in April, but ultimately stayed in and picked up some key endorsements, including from outgoing School Board Chair Reid Goldstein. Cocchiaro’s promise to be “a prizefighter for our teachers and school staff” also helped to win him the endorsement of the political action committee of the local teachers union.

Following the release of the caucus results, the 22-year-old youth organizer said in a statement that “Arlington Democrats have made their voices heard, and I am proud to give my full-throated and unequivocal endorsement to Miranda Turner.”

“It is critical that Arlingtonians elect a candidate this November who will uphold, defend, and advance the progress achieved by this School Board, and who will advocate for every student,” he continued. “Miranda Turner is that candidate.”

Turner notably advocated for a swifter return to in-person school at Arlington Public Schools in the fall of 2020, at a time when concerns about the health impacts of such a move were heightened. Her campaign this year has focused on classroom instruction and support for teachers and students.

“The need for high-quality instruction, appropriate intervention, and the use of data to support our students is more urgent than ever,” her website says. “If elected, I will ensure a laser focus on instruction and providing an excellent education for all students.”

Turner is a Brown- and UVA-educated attorney, focused on insurance litigation, and a partner at a prominent D.C. law firm. On her website, she highlights her pro bono work and representation of Planned Parenthood.

Turner’s website notes, additionally, that she has been an APS parent since 2015 and has been active in her elementary school’s PTA and in the Green Valley Civic Association.

More on the caucus results, below, from an Arlington County Democratic Committee press release.

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Alexandria City High School Principal Peter Balas in 2022 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Arlington Public Schools has hired a well-liked high school principal from Alexandria.

APS announced four new principal appointments last night, after their approval by the Arlington School Board. Among them: Alexandria City High School (ACHS) Principal Peter Balas, who will take over as principal of Wakefield High School in the fall.

Wakefield, which has faced the overdose death of a student as well as threats of violence this year, has its top spot open with Principal Chris Willmore being promoted to Director of Secondary Education at APS.

Balas, who has been with Alexandria City Public Schools for 22 years, took over at then-T.C. Williams High School in 2017. Since then, Balas has navigated the school through Covid, a consequential decision to stick with one large high school for the city, the school’s renaming and issues around violence in and outside of the school.

ACHS saw frequent leadership turnover in the years before Balas took charge and, despite continued turnover at the leadership level in the years that followed, Balas has been a stabilizing force for the school.

“To watch these students grow over time is more rewarding than I ever anticipated,” Balas wrote in announcing his decision to take the Wakefield position. “And, seeing all of my elementary school students now at the high school has given me one of the most unique and special opportunities of my career. My time in ACPS has made me a better teacher, leader and person.”

Balas said he won’t leave until June and will see the school year through until graduation.

Also last night, APS announced a trio of elementary and middle school principal appointments, including Long Branch Elementary Assistant Principal Carolyn Jackson becoming principal of Gunston Middle School.

New Gunston Middle School Principal Carolyn Jackson (photo courtesy APS)

From APS:

At its May 11 meeting, the Arlington School Board appointed Carolyn Jackson as Principal of Gunston Middle School. She currently serves as the Assistant Principal of Long Branch Elementary School.

Jackson earned a Bachelor of Science from North Carolina A & T State University, a master’s from George Washington University and George Mason University and is currently working on a Doctor of Education from William and Mary.

Jackson has been an educator serving Arlington Public Schools in a variety of roles for 23 years. Throughout her career, she has served in different capacities at Gunston Middle School, including teacher, activities director, Director of Counseling Services and Assistant Principal. Jackson also served as a counselor at Claremont Immersion School, Assistant Principal at Nottingham Elementary School and a Supervisor in the Office of Equity and Excellence.

Rounding out the appointments are new Hoffman-Boston Elementary Principal Helena Payne Chauvenet and new Carlin Springs Elementary Principal Carmen De La Cruz Scales. Payne Chauvenet is another external hire — she is currently principal of Maury Elementary School in D.C. — while De La Cruz Scales is an assistant principal at Arlington’s Washington-Liberty High School.

The hiring of Balas, meanwhile, is reverberating around Arlington’s southern neighbor, with many on social media lamenting a titanic loss at a time of transition for Alexandria’s school system.

Vernon Miles contributed to this report


With early and caucus voting underway, some candidates for local office are getting boosts from prominent Arlington Democrats.

Arlington is a Democratic stronghold for state and national politics. On the local level, that ethos has fueled intense focus on who will get the official support of the local party — even for non-partisan positions on the Arlington School Board.

Among sitting County Board members, there is strong support for Acting Sheriff Jose Quiroz, who has received endorsements from outgoing Chair Christian Dorsey, Vice-Chair Libby Garvey and member Matt de Ferranti. Quiroz also has support from State Sen. Barbara Favola and Dels. Alfonso Lopez and Patrick Hope, as well as his predecessor, former sheriff Beth Arthur.

His opponents, retired Deputy Sheriff Wanda Younger and Arlington police officer James Herring, have not published endorsements on their websites.

No other candidate websites list endorsements from Dorsey or outgoing member Katie Cristol, both of whom are stepping down this year. Of the remaining County Board members, they diverged on their support for a Commonwealth’s Attorney. De Ferranti and Karantonis support incumbent Parisa Dehghani-Tafti while Garvey supports challenger Josh Katcher, who worked for Dehghani-Tafti and her predecessor, Theo Stamos.

Dehghani-Tafti’s website lists a slew of endorsements from elected Democrats, including Reps. Don Beyer and Jennifer McClellan, State Sen. Barbara Favola, Dels. Hope and Lopez as well as endorsements from the Washington Post and the Falls Church News-Press. Campaign financing records show she has received donations from political groups that support progressive prosecutors.

Katcher’s supporters including former Arlington School Board member Barbara Kanninen, education activist Symone Walker and the local firefighters union. Campaign materials shared with ARLnow show that Stamos has promoted meet-and-greet opportunities with Katcher, one of which former independent County Board member John Vihstadt hosted.

Campaign financing records show some of Katcher’s biggest recent contributors of $1,000 or more include himself, former School Board member Abby Raphael, retired Deputy Chief of Police Daniel Murray, a former candidate for Stafford County’s treasurer, and longtime local GOP civic figure John Antonelli, who previously donated to Vihstadt and Stamos.

For County Board, stances on housing and development seem to have informed which sitting Board members support them.

De Ferranti endorsed two candidates to join him on the Board: Julius “J.D.” Spain, Sr. and Maureen Coffey, who also picked up an endorsement from Takis Karantonis and $5,000 contributions from a labor union. The stances of the two candidates on housing and the environment have also earned them the support of YIMBYs of Northern Virginia, Greater Greater Washington and the Sierra Club.

Vice-Chair Libby Garvey has diverged from her colleagues, endorsing Natalie Roy and Susan Cunningham, who previously ran for County Board as an independent.

Cunningham, who has led affordable housing and social safety net nonprofits, and Roy, who also considers environmental action a top priority, staked out positions opposed to the zoning changes known as Missing Middle for being short-sighted. Garvey helped usher in the new ordinance, allowing by-right development of 2-6 unit buildings on single-family lots, but later elaborated on her misgivings.

Supporters for Roy and Cunningham include some previously elected Democrats as well as community and civic association leaders and, for Cunningham, advocates for affordable housing and more robust social safety net initiatives. Roy picked up the support of former School Board members Nancy Van Doren and James Lander.

Roy’s largest contributor donated $7,000 in this race, including $4,000 to her, $1,000 to Cunningham and $2,000 to Katcher. Cunningham’s largest supporter donated $2,000 to her this race and in her 2020 bid as an independent.

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Arlington School Board candidates Angelo Cocchiaro and Miranda Turner against the backdrop of the Arlington Public Schools administrative building (by ARLnow)

Voting to determine which School Board candidate gets the endorsement of the local Democratic party kicked off yesterday and continues this week.

Candidates Angelo Cocchiaro and Miranda Turner are vying to be the Democratic-supported candidate who will run in the general election in November to replace outgoing School Board Chair Reid Goldstein. The winner will face any independent candidates, which so far includes James “Vell” Rives, who is running for the second time.

Both Democratic hopefuls continue racking up high-profile endorsements. In addition to Goldstein’s support, Cocchiaro was endorsed by the political action committee of the teachers union, Arlington Education Association (AEA). Turner earned the support of some Arlington County Board members, former chairs of Arlington County Democratic Committee and community leaders.

In a statement released Friday, the political action committee representing Arlington Public Schools educators and staff said it believes Cocchiaro’s “youthful vision and strong commitment to students, educators and the labor movement will make him a fresh voice for APS.”

“He impressed the interview committee with his student activism in support of educators in West Virginia,” the statement continued. “His support of labor rights and collective bargaining will serve our students, community, and staff well by giving those on the front-lines of providing educational service to our community a real voice in planning to make it the best it can be.”

The teachers union recently won an election by county school employees to be the exclusive representative for educators once collective bargaining begins with Arlington Public Schools.

Cocchiaro said he is willing to go the extra mile “to be a prizefighter for our teachers and school staff.”

“There are those who would create an artificial, invisible wall between AEA and the School Board,” he said in a statement. “Let me be clear: not me. As a Democrat’s Democrat, I’ll always take the side of labor over management — I’ll have their back — and that’s never going to change.”

Cocchiaro says he will fight for “raises that beat inflation,” 12 weeks of paid family leave and a “Live Where You Work” housing support program. Arlington County offers financial assistance to eligible staff looking to rent or buy in Arlington and APS has offered similar grants in the past.

Turner also advocates for better pay and benefits and paid parental leave for APS staff. She says the school system should let staff who live in Arlington enroll their children at the school where they work, and says the county and school system should explore providing grants to teachers looking to buy a home in Arlington.

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Independent School Board candidate James ‘Vell’ Rives (courtesy photo)

James “Vell” Rives is entering the race to fill the Arlington School Board seat being vacated by Reid Goldstein.

He will be running in the general election in November against the candidate who wins the Arlington County Democratic Committee endorsement caucus, either be Miranda Turner or political newcomer Angelo Cocchiaro, who both nabbed high-profile endorsements recently.

Voting in the caucus will take place in early May.

Rives, an Arlington resident of 24 years with two children in Arlington Public Schools, ran as an independent last year, nabbing the endorsement of the then-Sun Gazette (now the Gazette Leader). He lost to Bethany Sutton, who had the support of Arlington Democrats and captured 68% of votes on Election Day, compared to the 30% Rives garnered.

“His campaign priorities include school safety, academic rigor, and teacher retention,” Rives’ announcement says.

Some of his previous campaign issues included reinstating School Resource Officers and doing away with standards-based grading, per a video on his website.

Rives is a psychiatrist and past co-chair of the Arlington Public Schools School Health Advisory Board (SHAB). He currently represents SHAB for the Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative and his website details his policy positions on the twin epidemics of student drug use and mental health issues.

“Substance Abuse has increased since the pandemic among students nationally, and anecdotal reports suggest the same for Arlington,” Rives’ website says. “While continuing preventive education in school, I support aggressive early intervention to change the trajectory for students using drugs.”

Earlier this year, a 14-year-old student died of a drug overdose at Wakefield High School, which one of his children attends. APS has since stepped up education and increased the availability of the overdose reversal drug Narcan but some teachers say they do not feel heard when they report concerns to administrators.

Rives says APS should redirect resources to address rising mental health concerns.

“We must also rebuild connectedness among the school community by promoting athletics, performing and visual arts, and physical education that involves exercise and play,” he said.

The budget that the Arlington School Board is teed up to adopt later this year includes a handful of additional substance abuse counselors and a psychologist and social worker to maintain current staffing levels.

Rives says he also supports the position of SHAB that APS should adopt a policy requiring students to keep personal devices off and stored during school hours. A handful of schools have independently adopted this but SHAB says it needs to be systemwide to be enforceable. Some current School Board members support such a policy, while others oppose it.

As for the Democratic candidates, Turner has also staked out positions on mental health, such as more teen programming and tighter controls on APS-issued devices, as well as greater academic rigor, especially calling for more math interventionists.

On substance use, Cocchiaro says he would like to add more counselors.

A campaign sign for Arlington County Board candidate Natalie Roy with other candidate signs in the background (staff photo)

(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Two candidates have emerged as top fundraisers ahead of this year’s Democratic primary: Natalie Roy for Arlington County Board and Josh Katcher for Commonwealth’s Attorney.

That’s according to newly-filed quarterly campaign financial reports.

The six candidates for County Board, two for Commonwealth’s Attorney and three for Sheriff will run in a primary on June 20 to determine the local party’s nominees headed to the general election. The Arlington County Democratic Committee will hold a caucus in May to endorse a School Board candidate.

In statements, Roy and Katcher said the numbers show their message resonates with people who do not feel heard or are concerned with the direction Arlington is headed — whether on housing and community engagement or on prosecutorial reforms.

Roy, a realtor noted for getting around on bicycle, kicked off her campaign by expressing misgivings with the zoning ordinance changes known as Missing Middle, which passed in March. She instead suggested other solutions — such as turning the vacant, condemned Key Bridge Marriott into housing and county amenities.

She comes in first at $51,237, followed by former Arlington NAACP branch president Julius “JD” Spain, $48,032, and businessman Tony Weaver, $46,087.

While Roy has the most donations over $100, her campaign highlighted that 80% of donors were Arlington voters and 80% donated less than $250.

Donations above and below $100 to Arlington County Board candidates (chart by Jo DeVoe)

“This shows both strong grassroots and widespread community support, a sign that Natalie’s message has been resonating with Arlington voters who feel like their voice has not been heard in recent years,” per a statement she released on Tuesday.

“From hosting small meet & greets in their living rooms, to knocking doors, to donating, their strong and steady support has made it possible for me to do the best part of a campaign — meeting with and hearing from Arlingtonians across the county,” Roy continued.

With $105,526 raised and more than $90,000 spent, Katcher — who worked as a prosecutor under Theo Stamos and his now-opponent, incumbent Parisa Dehghani-Tafti — outraised and outspent his former boss.

“Ours is the people’s campaign, and once again the Arlington and Falls Church City communities have stepped up and proven that,” he said in a statement. “Since I kicked off my campaign in November, we have surpassed our fundraising targets — twice. Thank you to all the supporters who have helped make this possible.”

2023 fundraising vs. expenses for Commonwealth’s Attorney race (chart by Jo DeVoe)

Katcher’s campaign said all his support is derived from individuals. Per the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project, which compiles campaign reports, some 400 people have donated to his campaign. Dehghani-Tafti has received donations through some 150 individual contributions in addition to three PACs.

The largest of these is an in-kind donation of $8,000 from Justice and Public Safety PAC, a PAC funded by George Soros. The billionaire philanthropist donated millions to the PAC, supporting dozens of progressive prosecutor candidates in the U.S., including several hundred thousand dollars in cash and services to Dehghani-Tafti’s successful 2019 campaign.

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Outgoing Arlington School Board chair Reid Goldstein has endorsed School Board candidate Angelo Cocchiaro in the race to replace him.

While Goldstein is the first sitting School Board member to endorse a candidate thus far, his opponent Miranda Turner was endorsed by a former top-level administrator for Arlington Public Schools.

Cocchiaro announced news of the endorsement today (Monday), less than a week after quieting talk that he was pulling out of the race. He will be going up against Turner, a second-time candidate, to gain the endorsement of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

Goldstein said Cocchiaro’s youth and lived experience will be an asset to the School Board as it tackles issues plaguing students, including drug use and mental health.

We have seen critical student issues recently surrounding mental health, safety and security, and substance abuse — with many calls for our response to include student voices. With the distinct advantage of his youth, Angelo Cocchiaro is the candidate best positioned to listen, understand, and bring student solutions to student issues. Achievement will never progress until the issues impeding learning are resolved. He will uphold, defend, and advance the progress this School Board has achieved. Angelo has my full and complete endorsement to serve as my successor on the School Board.

Cocchiaro thanked Goldstein for his endorsement in a statement. He said he supports the progressive policy stances the Goldstein and the School Board have taken on grading for equity and removing School Resource Officers.

“I stand behind the progress that has been achieved,” he said. “I have also supported this School Board’s leadership in other areas, such as when they protected school communities from a premature pandemic reopening, and resisted calls to go the other way… And yet, I will differ from this School Board in bringing my unique lived experiences to the table, and I will push progress even further.”

APS closed in March 2020 and started to reopen on a two-day-a-week hybrid basis one year later, mandated by the state and then-Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and, added more days later at the urging of the School Board. Dueling parent groups formed to advocate for a faster return and greater caution.

Turner, a parent who has been involved with local PTAs and a superintendent’s advisory committee, made a name for herself calling for a quicker return to school. One of her top priorities now is learning loss attributed to pandemic-era educational disruptions.

She was endorsed by Brian Stockton, the former Chief of Staff for Arlington Public Schools.

“In every interaction I had with her, it was clear that she was committed to the notion that every student deserves the opportunity to achieve their full potential,” he said in a statement Turner’s campaign shared with ARLnow. “She has and will continue to be a highly-involved parent and community member who puts the needs of Arlington County children first and foremost.”

His endorsement continues as follows.

Miranda has shown dedication to children at all levels that was fair and equitable, and she has continually fought to ensure APS is seeking to maintain high standards for academic achievement for every student. Her display of love for the community demonstrates a genuine concern and kindness for the well-being of the children of Arlington. It is clear to me that she possesses the mastery and skills required for effective Board management and governance.

Furthermore, Miranda possesses the temperament, knowledge and commitment to Arlington County that is required for today and the future. I believe she will be a strong asset for Arlington County parents and students, and as such she has my unfettered endorsement.


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