PRESS RELEASE: Thanks for Your Support

First, I want to thank you for your support for my recent campaign for Arlington School Board. I got 28,666 votes or 30% of the total.

In 2014 running for the same office against the same opponent I got 18,429 votes or about 33% of the total.

While my percent of the vote went down slightly this year, the actual number of votes cast for me went up by more than 10,000. This is good considering that the uptick in Arlington turnout consisted of a wave of new voters casting a straight Democratic ticket.

Given the serious issues confronting Arlington School Board that my campaign exposed, I was actually optimistic that I might surmount the "Blue Wave" until I arrived at Arlington Central Library at 5:45 a.m. on Tuesday, November 6. For two solid hours voters from nearby high rises queued up to vote. Most of them refused to take either my sample ballot or that of defeated Independent Arlington County Board incumbent, John Vihstadt. Continue reading

PRESS Release: School Construction Cost Report Fudges the Numbers


I’m Audrey Clement, the Independent candidate for Arlington School Board, and I regret to inform you that Arlington Public Schools (APS) is manipulating its capital cost data.


The attempt to hoodwink the voters appears in a report commissioned by the APS Auditor, "Cost Study for Arlington Public Schools", which purports to show that APS school construction costs are in line with the rest of the metropolitan area.

The first red herring is a table on page 21 that lists the per pupil cost of Alice Fleet Elementary, now under construction, as $62,500, rather than the actual per pupil cost of $78,457. The APS cost report does this by subtracting the $12 million parking garage from the school’s $59 million price tag. APS argues that Arlington schools cost more because of the need for structured parking. That may well be true, but that doesn’t give the APS Auditor license to fudge capital cost data.

The second red herring is the report’s principal conclusion that "APS’ high school construction costs are less than 9 of the 14 – or two-thirds of the projects analyzed for this cost comparison study (p. 26)."

Inspection of the high school construction projects listed on page 24 of the report does indeed show Arlington’s Wakefield High and Wilson Secondary School with lower total cost than most of the other schools on the list. But total cost is not the right metric. Comparative cost analysis is done using cost per pupil or cost per square foot, not total cost. That should be obvious, since a school that provides 775 seats at $100 million is more expensive than a school that provides 1500 seats at $110 million.

Page 25 of the report shows a per pupil cost of $60,500 for the 1,960 seat Wakefield High and a per pupil cost of $130,300 for the 775 seat Wilson Secondary. That reduces to a weighted average per pupil cost for both schools of $80,279, which is more than the per pupil cost of any other new school in the metropolitan area except those constructed in the District of Columbia.

Comparing Arlington schools to DC schools is like comparing apples to oranges. First, the District of Columbia gets 23 percent of its revenue from the federal government, in contrast with Arlington, which gets 1 percent from the feds. That extra change comes in handy when covering cost overruns and extravagant amenities.

Second, almost half of DC students attend charter schools, paid for in part by private operators. That means that DC can concentrate its capital expenditures on building capacity for fewer students in its remaining public schools. This explains the higher per pupil costs of DC schools and the unfairness of expecting Arlington taxpayers to assume the same tax burden.

I’ve cited just some of the distortions and alternate facts in APS’ latest cost report. If you’re concerned about where your tax dollars are going, I challenge you to dig up more.

If you’re looking for a School Board member who will send this cost report back to the APS Auditor for correction, then look no further. I’m a 14-year Westover resident and civic activist–with a Ph.D. in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow. I also serve on the Arlington Transportation Commission.

If elected, I pledge to:

  • Preserve the name: Washington-Lee High School.
  • Reverse declining high school test scores.
  • Close the minority student achievement gap.
  • Constrain School Board spending.
  • Listen to the concerns of all taxpayers.
  • Build schools not trailers on time and on budget.
  • Mainstream special needs students.
  • End "teaching to the test".
  • Install efficient renewable energy in all public schools.
  • Promote school safety with a focus on violence prevention.

If you share my agenda, then:

  • Spread the word about my candidacy.
  • Volunteer to help.
  • Donate to my campaign.

If you’re interested in helping out, just shoot me an email or call or text. If you want to find out more about my campaign, visit my website.

Together we can make Arlington Public Schools provide all students with an honest education.

PRESS RELEASE: W-L Name Change Diverts Attention From Minority Achievement Gap

I’m Audrey Clement, the Independent candidate for Arlington School Board, and I’m concerned about the School Board’s motivation in renaming Washington Lee (W-L) High School.

I think that decision, which was made without notice at a June 7 School Board meeting chaired by my opponent Barbara Kanninen, is an attempt to deflect attention from the real crisis in Arlington Public Schools (APS)–namely, the minority student achievement gap.

Right now the gap between Black and White student countywide pass rates is 22.4 percentage points and growing. Likewise the gap between Hispanic and White student pass rates is 24.8 points.

Under performance of minority students is widespread in Northern Virginia, as is the attempt to hide it. For example, a recent article in the Fairfax County Times gushed over the rededication of Justice High in Falls Church, which was renamed last year to eradicate the memory of its former namesake, Confederate general J.E.B. Stuart. To hear the Times tell it, the renaming process was democratic, and everyone is happy with result. This is news to name change opponents who were bullied and outed as racists by their class mates.

As to whether changing the name of a school can bring about racial justice, even the Times agreed that the act was symbolic.

"A new name may not eliminate the achievement gap or solve other systemic issues in the U.S. education system, but the symbolic importance of honoring civil rights and education advocates like Marshall, Johns, and Mendez over a man whose legacy is rooted in the Confederacy and its defense of slavery should not be underestimated either, particularly for a school where more than 60 percent of its students are black or Hispanic."

The reference to former Black Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, civil rights leader Barbara Rose Johns, and World War II veteran Col. Louis G. Mendez Jr. stems from the tribute given to them at Justice High’s rededication ceremony. But their monikers appear nowhere in the name of the school. When all is said and done, Blacks and Hispanics have been denied even symbolic justice at Justice High.

According to Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) statistics, the Justice High achievement gap is 12.6 points for Blacks and 27.6 for Hispanics. In Fairfax County as a whole the achievement gap is 18.6 for Blacks and 23.6 for Hispanics. So much for real social justice as measured by differences in scholastic achievement.
If you’re concerned that APS like Fairfax County Public Schools is throwing a smoke screen over the problem, and you are looking for someone who will actually address the minority achievement gap, then look no further. I’m a 14-year Westover resident and civic activist–with a Ph.D. in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow. I also serve on the Arlington Transportation Commission.

If elected, I pledge to:

  • Preserve the name: Washington-Lee High School.
  • Reverse declining high school test scores.
  • Close the minority student achievement gap.
  • Constrain School Board spending.
  • Listen to the concerns of all taxpayers.
  • Build schools not trailers on time and on budget.
  • Mainstream special needs students.
  • End "teaching to the test".
  • Install efficient renewable energy in all public schools.
  • Promote school safety with a focus on violence prevention.

If you share my agenda, then:

  • Spread the word about my candidacy.
  • Volunteer to help.
  • Donate to my campaign.

If you’re interested in helping out, just shoot me an email or call or text. If you want to find out more about my campaign, visit my website.

Together we can make Arlington Public Schools provide all students with an honest education.

PRESS RELEASE: Arlington Test Scores Continue Downward Trend

I’m Audrey Clement, the Independent candidate for Arlington School Board, and I’m concerned that Arlington Public Schools (APS) is misleading you about the performance of students enrolled in its schools.

In a recent press release the Superintendent boasted about the fact that all Arlington schools remain accredited, and pass rates exceed the state average in most categories.

Yet the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Report Card–measuring Standards Of Learning (SOL) test results–indicates that Arlington high schools are on a downward trend. Since 2014 Washington-Lee (W-L) pass rates have declined in all five categories tested, and Yorktown and Wakefield have declined in four.

W-L Mathematics pass rates declined 7 percentage points between 2014 and 2018 from 88 to 81. Wakefield English Reading declined 9 percentage points from 86 to 77.

High school pass rates are a key barometer of school district performance, because they are highly correlated with college admission rates. They are also correlated with real estate values, a fact that APS has publicized to justify its annual budget requests to the County.

It’s no accident that my opponent Barbara Kanninen has been on the School Board since 2015 when high school performance began to decline. It’s not just that Barbara is giving herself a a pass when she should get a fail.

It’s that APS spends inordinate amounts to get the same academic results as other jurisdictions in Northern Virginia. In fact the 2018 Washington Board of Education (WABE) Guide indicates that Arlington spends $4,500 more per pupil than Fairfax County. Arlington also spends 2.5 times the per pupil state average for new classroom capacity.

If you’re worried about the quality of Arlington schools and looking for better leadership, then look no further. I’m a 14-year Westover resident and civic activist–with a Ph.D. in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow. I also serve on the Arlington Transportation Commission.

If elected, I pledge to:

  • Preserve the name: Washington-Lee High School.
  • Reverse declining high school test scores.
  • Close the minority student achievement gap.
  • Rein in profligate School Board spending.
  • Listen to the concerns of all taxpayers.
  • Build schools not trailers on time and on budget.
  • Mainstream special needs students.
  • End "teaching to the test".
  • Install efficient renewable energy in all public schools.
  • Promote school safety with a focus on violence prevention.

If you share my agenda, then:

  • Spread the word about my candidacy.
  • Volunteer to help.
  • Donate to my campaign.

If you’re interested in helping out, just shoot me an email or call or text. If you want to find out more about my campaign, visit my website.

Together we can make Arlington Public Schools provide all students with an honest education.

PRESS RELEASE: Arlington Student Pass Rates Slipping

I’m Audrey Clement, the Independent candidate for Arlington School Board, and I’m concerned about the fact Arlington high school student performance is slipping.

My opponent Barbara Kanninen is no doubt as complacent as I am concerned, because a recent Niche report rated Arlington schools tops in the state of Virginia.

Yet the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) 2016-17 Report Card on Arlington Public Schools (APS) indicates that pass rates for Arlington Community High were behind the state average in all categories tested, and pass rates for Wakefield High School and W-L were behind in History & Social Sciences.

Furthermore, pass rates for Wakefield and W-L declined in four categories since 2014, when my opponent Barbara Kanninen was elected, and Yorktown pass rates declined in three categories.

So how do declining pass rates square with Niche’s glowing evaluation of APS? Niche also gave Arlington Public Schools an “A” for diversity. Yet the Superintendent’s own published Performance Highlights indicate that pass rates for Black students are about 20 percent below White pass rates for most subjects at all levels. So clearly Niche’s ratings are suspect.

If you want to know more about this important issue, come to my booth (C-19) at the Arlington County Fair, Thomas Jefferson Community Center located at 3501 S. 2nd Street, Arlington Virginia 22204, from Friday through Sunday, August 17-19.

I will be happy to provide you with more details on Arlington student achievement and explain how I can improve educational attainment if elected to the School Board.

I’m a 14-year Westover resident and civic activist–with a Ph.D. in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow. I also serve on the Arlington Transportation Commission.

If elected, I pledge to:

  • Preserve the name: Washington-Lee High School.
  • Reverse declining high school test scores.
  • Close the minority student achievement gap.
  • Rein in profligate School Board spending.
  • Listen to the concerns of all taxpayers.
  • Build schools not trailers on time and on budget.
  • Mainstream special needs students.
  • End “teaching to the test”.
  • Install efficient renewable energy in all public schools.
  • Promote school safety with a focus on violence prevention.

If you share my agenda, then:

  • Spread the word about my candidacy.
  • Volunteer to help.
  • Donate to my campaign.

If you’re interested in helping out, just shoot me an email or call or text. If you want to find out more about my campaign, visit my website.

Together we can make Arlington Public Schools provide all students with an honest education.

PRESS RELEASE: The Cost of a More Car Diet

I’m Audrey Clement, the Independent candidate for Arlington School Board, and I want to clarify my position on new school construction in the County.

At the July, 2018 School Board meeting I criticized the design of the $55 million Reed School, because it requires demolishing the existing $20 million school constructed in 2009. It will also force 9 and 10 year olds to march up three flights of stairs several times a day.

When ARLnow published some of my remarks, readers accused me of flip flopping, since I had advocated “Build Up Not Out to Preserve Green Space” as a School Board candidate in 2014.

True. Westover residents were told that the Reed School had to be built up rather than out to preserve green space. But inspection of the design reveals the real reason for building up–namely to expand parking space on an existing lot. While this scheme furthers APS’ commitment to a “more car diet”, it will impose a physical hardship on the students and drive up costs.

The same focus on parking governed the design of Alice Fleet Elementary School off Route 50 and Glebe Road in South Arlington. There a 4 story structure is under construction on an existing parking lot with a two story underground parking garage that has driven up the project cost to an eye popping $59 million. That’s a cost per pupil of $78,457 as compared with the new Patrick Henry Elementary in Alexandria with a cost per pupil of $48,848.

Virtually every recent school construction project in the county has resulted in expanded run off inducing surface parking and massive loss of tree canopy. According to longtime civic activist Suzanne Sundburg:

“Likewise most APS school construction projects result in mature tree loss: at least 94 at Ashlawn Elementary School, almost 80 at McKinley Elementary School, more than 160 at Stratford Middle School, etc.”

APS will tell you that additional costs and degraded surroundings are a necessary sacrifice to provide ample parking for teachers and staff. I disagree.

Parking and drop off facilities could be scaled back if:

  • more teachers took transit, and
  • more kids were bused instead of driven to school.

This would also reduce congestion around schools.

These options aren’t feasible now, because the County is not providing the incentives. If the County had a policy in place like Fairfax County to provide workforce housing to Arlington teachers, and APS changed its school bus policy to pick up kids within a half mile of the school, more people would leave their cars at home.

Other incentives include:

  • replacing school bus routes with ART service, and
  • subsidizing transit use by teachers and staff.

If you like these ideas or are concerned about the steady erosion of green space throughout the county and loss of tree canopy on school campuses–then support my run for Arlington School Board.

I’m a 14-year Westover resident and civic activist–with a Ph.D. in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow. I also serve on the Arlington Transportation Commission.

If elected, I pledge to:

  • Promote a school construction program that increases classroom capacity on time and on budget
  • Reduce the need for trailers with an accelerated building program that brings the cost of new classroom capacity in line with the rest of the Commonwealth
  • Cut the fat out of the School Board’s top heavy administration and use the savings to fund needed services
  • Close the achievement gap
  • Mainstream special education programs
  • Implement more efficient school transit alternatives
  • Install renewable energy in all public schools
  • Provide a voice–minus the doublespeak–on Arlington School Board for all taxpayers

If you share my agenda, then:

  • Spread the word about my candidacy
  • volunteer to help
  • Donate to my campaign

If you’re interested in helping out, just shoot me an email or call or text. If you want to find out more about my campaign, visit my website.

Together we can make Arlington Public Schools provide all students with an honest education.

Reed School: Builds Up Not Out To Provide More Parking

Comments at Arlington School Board Meeting on July 17, 2018.

While I support a new neighborhood elementary school at the Reed site, I am concerned about both the design and the cost. The four story structure outlined in the final schematic design appears to blend in well with its surroundings and preserves open space.

However it requires demolishing the existing school, which is less than ten years old. It will also force 9 and 10 year olds to march up three flights of stairs several times a day.

Westover residents were told that the school had to be built up rather than out to preserve green space. But inspection of the design reveals the real reason for building up—namely to expand parking space. Continue reading

School Renaming Diverts Attention From Minority Achievement Gap

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting on July 14, 2018.

On June 7 Arlington School Board (APS) voted unanimously to rename Washington-Lee (W-L) High School without prior public notice. The School Board’s rationale for the unscheduled vote was that as leader of the Confederate Army Robert E. Lee was a traitor to the nation.

Overlooked was:

  • the pardon Lee received posthumously from Congress in 1975;
  • the credit given to him for reconciling North and South after the war; as well as
  • the hypocrisy of honoring George Washington and other Founding Fathers, who profited from slavery, while vilifying Lee.

Continue reading

PRESS RELEASE: What’s Good For Washington Is Good For Lee

I’m Audrey Clement, the Independent candidate for Arlington School Board, and I want to set the record straight about a matter that is important to all Virginia residents.

Several weeks a go my campaign issued a press release deploring the June 7, 2018 decision by the Board to strike Robert E. Lee’s name from Washington-Lee (W-L) High School.

To his credit Scott McCaffrey, editor of the Arlington Sun Gazette, accurately reported that I was angered at the hypocrisy of striking the name of Robert E. Lee, who defended slavery, but not that of George Washington, who profited by it.

From this and my acknowledgement that Lee’s position on slavery was wrong, McCaffrey erroneously concluded that I was good with striking Lee’s name from W-L High School, as long as Washington’s name were stricken also.

In fact I don’t want to strike either “Washington” or “Lee” from the name of W-L High School. I want to strike a blow at the institutional hypocrisy embodied in the School Board’s decision to rename the school. Continue reading