Alice Cain, Candidate for D-30A Delegate: Setting The Record Straight

Alice Cain - Democratic candidate for House of Delegates in District 30A

To the Arundel Patriot:

As a candidate for Delegate in District 30A, I am writing to address your interview with my opponent, Aron Axe. It was clear from his comments that he has not done his homework on either my record or the policy issue he is making the centerpiece of his campaign.

Let me set the record straight. I have always believed that public dollars should go to public schools. Period. My leadership on behalf of public schools has earned me endorsements from many teachers, Governor O’Malley’s superintendent of Maryland Public Schools, and President Obama’s Secretary of Education, who said, “Alice brings honesty, integrity and passion to serving the public. She understands the close link between education, jobs, and the American Dream, and has been a tireless advocate for enhancing educational equity for children and adults.” Closer to home, Annapolis Mayor Buckley called me a “champion for education” when he introduced me at my campaign kick-off.

I have spent my entire 30-year career working to create excellent public schools for all children. I have worked on education policy at the local, state, national and international levels. My accomplishments include:

  • Advocating for equity, school safety, and higher teacher pay and to reduce overcrowding in our public schools as a public school parent and Commissioner on the Annapolis Education Commission, including testifying on these issues over the past eight years before the school board, city council and county council;
  • Fighting successfully for more federal dollars for public schools – including writing the equity provisions of a law signed by President Obama that brought $250 million more federal dollars annually to Maryland’s public schools, which I did as a senior advisor to a national legislator called a “progressive icon” by the Sierra Club when it endorsed me;
  • Helping secure health insurance for nearly 140,000 poor children in Maryland, and nearly two million poor children across the country, when I worked at the Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr protégé, Marian Wright Edelman;
  • Developing policies that helped students in Maryland and across the country, who had dropped out, return to school to secure their diplomas, and winning hundreds of millions of dollars for adult and family literacy, library literacy; and prison literacy programs for Maryland and beyond when I served in the Clinton Administration;
  • Developing several policy proposals for ensuring marginalized students had better access to great teaching when I served on a team of national education experts that advised then-Senator Obama’s campaign in 2008 (some became law after he was elected President); and
  • Developing policy recommendations that were implemented by another country’s government in ways that expanded educational opportunities for underserved students through a Fulbright Fellowship.

I am saddened that Mr. Axe has ignored my accomplishments. Instead, he has chosen to repeatedly raise concerns that a nonprofit I was associated with many years ago – when it was run by a Democrat – is, today, going too far in its support of charter schools. Mr. Axe is cherry-picking the facts and trying to hold me responsible for decisions made years after I moved on from that organization. If Mr. Axe had taken 5 minutes to call me, check my resume, or check my LinkedIn page, he would know that I worked there for less than two months. When I saw this organization heading in a direction I disagreed with, I left it. He would also know that I organize teachers across the country to fight against the Trump/DeVos agenda every day at my current job at Teach Plus. Distortions like his are unfair and are exactly what people are sick and tired of in politics. Annapolis voters deserve better, both on the campaign trail and in the statehouse.

To be clear: I’m vehemently opposed to the DeVos charter school/voucher model of diverting public dollars to private or for-profit schools, and I have a long record of fighting against this, including when I worked for Democratic public education champions on Capitol Hill and there were Republican efforts to push earlier versions of the DeVos agenda. I will hold my record of action, fighting against this agenda for over a decade in our federal legislature, against Mr. Axe’s record of fighting this agenda, which – as far as I can see – consists of publishing one op-ed earlier this year, an op-ed that contained several inaccurate statements.

Let me also be clear that I’m fine with the following public school choice options:

  • Public charter schools, like Monarch Academy here in Annapolis, IF the community wants them. From the conversations I attended at the Annapolis Education Commission, when this was discussed, many local parents, our school board and superintendent, our teachers’ union, and many others, were supportive. It wouldn’t have moved forward otherwise. Monarch offers arts and technology integration and has helped reduce overcrowding in elementary schools that are over capacity.
  • Specialty programs (known as “magnets”) that families can choose, like the STEM (Science-Technology-Education-Math) program at Central Middle School and South River High School, the International Baccalaureate at Annapolis Middle School and Annapolis High School, and Performing and Visual Arts at Bates Middle School and Broadneck High School. It’s great when kids can follow their interests, and public school choices like these here in Annapolis are a net positive for our kids. The problem is that there aren’t enough spaces for all the kids who want to participate in these programs, and entrance to the programs is determined by lottery. For example, my son was number 120 or so on the waiting list for the STEM program, and I have testified before the school board over the years encouraging them to provide more options, including dual language immersion programs.

The bottom line is that it is time for Mr. Axe to stop conflating the Obama charter school model and the Trump/DeVos charter school model, which — like most other issues — are nothing alike. President Obama’s Secretary of Education, John King, was asked about charter schools at the Caucus of African-American Leaders meeting last week, which was taped by the Arundel Patriot. If you check out the footage, Secretary King explains the difference very well. Mr. Axe was there, which makes it all the more puzzling that he keeps pushing out inaccurate information.

Voters deserve a serious discussion of the issues, our records, and our visions for a better future. Let’s turn our focus back to what we will do for students. My goal is to do everything I can to ensure ALL students in Annapolis, and across Maryland, have the opportunity for a world-class public education so they can embark on a path to fulfill their dreams. That is what I’ve worked for my entire career, and that is what I will fight for, with everything I have, every day as your Delegate.

Alice Cain

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