On the Issues
Education reform is near and dear to the heart of Vincent Orange. Given a chance by a good education, Vincent Orange worked hard to become an accomplished businessman, lawyer and city councilmember. And now, that education affords him the opportunity to become the next Councilmember At-Large of the District of Columbia Council.
Vincent Orange knows the power of a good education first hand. Growing up in poverty with parents, possessing a sixth grade education, seven sisters and two brothers, Vincent Orange took advantage of the opportunities provided by a strong public school education. One opportunity was earning an A Better Chance, Inc. (ABC) scholarship to attend a private college preparatory high school, Fountain Valley, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
However, prior to being fully accepted into the ABC program, Vincent Orange had to pass the test. That is, he had to attend a two-week program at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota for Fountain Valley High School to ascertain whether or not he possessed the educational foundation to be successful in a private college preparatory high school environment. In other words, did the Oakland, California public school system provide Vincent Orange the tools to excel and pursue a good quality of life.
The report from Fred Easter, Director, Project ABC stated the following:
Dear Mrs Orange,
I am writing to give you the final reports on Vincent's performance this summer. He did a better than average job academically; and adjusted quite well to the program in all other areas. Clearly, Vincent has a strong background and a healthy willingness to work. I am confident that he will do well at Fountain Valley next year. Here is some of what the faculty and staff had to say about him:
TUTOR: Vincent is really an outstanding person. He does his work and gets it in on time.
MATH: He has a strong background in General Mathematics and Algebra.
READING: He exhibits the ability for continued academic growth.
ENGLISH: A capable student. His attitude is excellent.
HISTORY: A bright student. He works hard.
Please understand that final acceptance will come from the school. You should be hearing from them shortly after they receive our reports. We expect that things will go well and wish you and Vincent continued success in school.
In 1975, Vincent Orange graduated number six out of a graduating class of 56 at Fountain Valley School. He went on to graduate from the University of the Pacific where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, 1979, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, 1980. In 1983, he earned a Juris Doctoris from Howard University School of Law. In 1988, he graduated from Georgetown University Law Center where he earned a Master of Laws in Taxation. In 2004, Vincent Orange earned a certificate from Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government for successfully completing the program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government. In 2005, Vincent received another certificate from Harvard for successfully completing the program for Crisis Management: Preparation, Performance, Leadership.
What has been described above, serves as the basis for Vincent Orange's very early commitment to Education Reform in the District of Columbia. And his desire and mission to provide every school age child with a solid educational foundation on which to grow and prosper.
Vincent Orange has been fighting to establish educational policies for the District of Columbia's 3rd and 8th grade students. While a Councilmember, Vincent Orange introduced legislation entitled "Educational Policies for 3rd and 8th Grade Students Act of 2005. This legislation was enacted in Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Support Act of 2005, Subtitle F which states:
The Council requests that the Board of Education and the Superintendent establish policies to ensure that:
1. All 3rd grade students are able to read independently and understand the fundamentals of mathematics upon being promoted to the 4th grade; and
2. All 8th graders are able to read at or above grade level and are exposed to pre-algebra concepts in preparation for high school.
As an At-Large Member of the DC Council, Vincent Orange will push to permanently adopt these educational standards for the District of Columbia. In addition, Vincent Orange will continue his push for universal early childhood education for three and four year olds to prepare them for kindergarten, for the opening of vocational schools to provide training in plumbing, electrical, carpentry and other trade skills and, for building special education capacity in the District of Columbia.
The case for the adoption of these educational standards and initiatives is straightforward. The United States Department of Education indicates that a child should be reading independently upon entering the fourth grade. Moreover, that a child not reading independently by the fourth grade is more likely to make contact with the criminal justice system.
In the District of Columbia, year after year, our fourth graders score below proficiency in reading and mathematics on the National Assessment of Education Progress examination. The District continues to have a problem with its school drop out rate. The District's crime rate for juveniles is extremely high and is directly tied to a lack of education. It’s reported that 40% of the adults living in the District of Columbia are reading on a third grade level.
These statistics are alarming and indicate that the transition from third to fourth grade is where the District of Columbia begins to fail and lose its children. For example, if a child cannot "add, subtract, multiply and divide" upon entering the fourth grade, then that child cannot make the transition to advanced mathematics including decimals, fractions, algebra etc. If a child cannot read independently upon entering the fourth grade, then that child cannot begin to read for comprehension, which starts at the fourth grade level.
The District of Columbia must strategically identify ways to invest in early childhood education to reverse the devastating trend that is negatively impacting the quality of life for our young people and the residents of the nation's capital. Early childhood education has been a fundamental part of the education reform agenda since 1989. However, the first of these goals, that every child would enter school ready to learn, has not been met in the District of Columbia.
The following prescription can provide the youth of the District with a foundation to help achieve a better quality of life:
- Establish an early childhood education program for three and four year olds designed to prepare them for kindergarten; and
- Develop a uniform six-year cycle curriculum for preschool through third grade designed to have children reading independently and understanding the fundamentals of mathematics upon being promoted to the fourth grade; with performance goals and measurements established and assessed annually.
This prescription produces a fourth grader equipped with a solid foundation of educational development to progress through the educational system with a high degree of success. As one cycle ends another begins. In three complete successful cycles, preschool through third grade, the prescription will have changed the entire make up of the District of Columbia Public School system from kindergarten through the 12th grade.
Other ingredients for the prescription include, but are not limited to:
- The best and brightest early childhood development teachers and their buy-in to the curriculum;
- Performance goals and measurements;
- Educational environments conducive for learning and achieving with zero tolerance for disruption;
- After school homework camps/extra curriculum activities;
- Summer schools;
- Summer jobs;
- Public and private sector partnerships and commitment; and
Vincent Orange has worked to get legislation passed that has impacted education in the District of Columbia in a positive manner. He ushered legislation through the Council that requires the District of Columbia Public Schools to provide textbooks to our students for their core subjects by the second week of school to be certified by the Chancellor. The law also requires the Chancellor to examine the book supply every five years to ensure the books meet national academic standards.
Vincent Orange also got legislation passed that recognizes the American Sign Language (ASL) as the modern language of choice for many deaf, hearing-impaired and hearing DC residents. The legislation also recognizes ASL as a foreign language course eligible for credit and satisfaction.
In 1999, Vincent Orange began a bold crusade for the new state-of-the-art technology high school, McKinley Technology High School. Against all odds, Vincent Orange prevailed and McKinley Technology High School, an $85 million investment in our youth, opened in the fall of 2004. Vincent Orange also worked with the DC Public School system to completely refurbish Crosby Noyes Elementary School, which reopened on September 1, 2004. The school presents an environment conducive for learning. The bright colors, the pristine classrooms, the sparkling floors, the gorgeous auditorium, the play areas, cafeteria and the young children are a sight to behold.
The Orange Vision
Vincent's vision for Washington, DC, is that of a world-class city operating at its fullest potential. An extremely vibrant city that continues to beckon individuals, couples and families to live in, visit and experience its culture, arts, restaurants, retail, entertainment, sports venues, neighborhoods and tourism. More
Get to Know Vincent
As an attorney and certifiedpublic accountant, Vincent Orange has the skillset DC needs to make the citygreat again. In his earlier tenure on the DC Council, Vincent helped the cityturn a $518 million deficit into a $1.6 billion surplus reserve. Sincere-joining the DC Council last year, he has been at the forefront of efforts torestore ethical integrity to the Council, root out government waste, providejobs and continue education reform.More