Metro Weekly

The 2014 State Board of Education: Mark Naydan (Ward 6)

iVotedYellowButtonMETRO WEEKLY: Do you support the proposed school boundary changes as they affect your ward?

Mark Naydan (Ward 6): Generally, they did the best they could. I don’t support feeding Tyler Elementary into Jefferson Middle, but keeping them feeding into Eliot-Hine.

MW: The District has been criticized for relying heavily on high-stakes testing to determine proficiency in various subjects. Do you see this criticism as valid or legitimate?

Mark Naydan (Ward 6): It’s not just in the District, it’s in most places. Standardized testing is necessary and important but should not be the sole criterion for success. A variety of factors need to be considered: Improvement in scores, participation in academic programs, end-of-course evaluations written by teachers of the courses, and opportunities for non-traditional learning. We need across-school testing so we can compare how schools are doing, but it should be just one factor in determining proficiency. Otherwise, you get situations where people change test answers to make their schools look better. Having a criteria of evaluation factors not only reduces the chance of fraud but produces more accurate measurements.

MW: What do you think needs to be further done to reduce truancy and increase D.C.’s low high school graduation rate?

Mark Naydan (Ward 6): Truant and underperforming students must see the purpose and need for attending school. Suspension is not the answer. Instead, tutoring and after-school programs can help students to catch up. Summer school is often helpful to students who are behind. Students with discipline problems often need to see an alternative to their school life to appreciate their regular school life. Having these students temporarily go to a more structured school can both build discipline and have them appreciate the opportunities their regular school offers them.

However, discipline is not the only reason for truancy. Many students have family situations they must attend to, keeping them out of school and falling behind. School day care centers are very effective for students with children, allowing them to learn while knowing their child is cared for.

Remedial programs are needed simply because we don’t all learn the same way. Technology has a real role here. Computer-assisted instruction often allows students to learn at their own pace, before moving on to more difficult subjects.

MW: What can the DC State Board of Education do, if anything, to enforce anti-bullying laws related to LGBT students and families and reduce truancy among that specific sub-group?

Mark Naydan (Ward 6): I am pleased to see bullying in recent years get the attention it deserves, rather than being thought of as a rite of passage children must endure. Having said that, this newfound attention hasn’t eliminated the problem by any means. LGBT students, and those in LGBT families especially, can be singled out for bullying. I’ve seen it happen.

Instances must be identified and brought to the attention of both the bully’s family and the family of those being bullied. Moreover, students need to be reminded that bullying is a problem. Many children exhibiting bullying behavior don’t know the effect they have on others. Pointing it out to them can often — but by no means always — be effective. The state board can check on the instances and frequency of anti-bullying efforts in their schools.

MW: Why should the LGBT community vote for you?

Mark Naydan (Ward 6): I am a public school teacher in Prince George’s County. I deal with children with different needs, different backgrounds, and different interests. Diversity is something we see as a strength in America. All of our students deserve an education that supports their development and makes them want to learn. The school board needs more people with the perspective of a teacher.

For more information on Mark Naydan’s campaign, email

Click here to read more reponses from D.C. candidates.

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