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The D.C. State Board of Education (SBOE) voted on Wednesday, Jan. 22 to elect openly gay SBOE member Jack Jacobson as president of the board, making him the highest-ranking LGBT elected official in the District following the defeat of Councilmembers Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and David Catania (I-At-Large), in the Democratic primary and mayoral general election, respectively.
Although at least three other gay men — Scott Simpson (Ward 1), David Do (Ward 1) and Philip Pannell (Ward 8) — sought election to their respective ward seats, Jacobson, a former ANC commissioner who was first elected in 2012, has been the only LGBT person to win a seat on the State Board of Education, which is tasked with advising the State Superintendent of Education on various matters ranging from testing and academic standards to teacher certification to high school graduation requirements.
In a statement released by the State Board, Jacobson thanked the outgoing board president Mark Jones (Ward 5) for his service and vowed to continue fostering a strong working relationship.
“I look forward to working with all of my colleagues, as well as the community, our students, teachers, principals, and other stakeholders, to ensure that our education system is exemplary and that all students have the opportunity to receive an excellent education,” Jacobson said in his statement. “I also look forward to strengthening the relationship between the State Board and the State Superintendent of Education, the Deputy Mayor for Education, the Chancellor, the Public Charter School Board, the D.C. Council’s Committee on Education, and all of our school leaders.”
The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s top LGBT political organization, of which Jacobson, a registered Democrat, is a member, praising Jacobson for his victory. Stein had previously supported Jacobson in his bid for ANC commissioner and endorsed him for the State Board of Education seat, even though both are technically nonpartisan positions.
“I know the entire membership of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and the D.C. LGBT community is ecstatic over the recent election of Jack Jacobson as President of the D.C. State Board of Education, thus making him the highest LGBT elected official in the District,” Earl Fowlkes, Stein’s president, said in an email sent to members and supporters of the club. “Jacobson will continue to be a strong advocate for all District children in his new role.”
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