What the DC Mayoral Candidates Said about Schools

Question #1 Mayoral control and Charter Schools

Do you consider the reform in governance of DC schools to have been a success or a failure?

a. with Mayoral control and the DC Reform Act of 2007, and

b. when Congress created the charter board

and it has proceeded to greatly expand the number of charter schools. What evidence would you support

for your answer?

Andy Shallal –

Mayoral control allows for relatively unaccountable decision making, but its proponents promised dramatic results. No dramatic results have been forthcoming. So we’re left with a lack of transparency and accountability and highly concentrated and centralized decision-making power in the Mayor. Both Mayors Fenty and Gray have completely deferred to Chancellors who had never run school systems, never even run a school.

The only unequivocal thing that the Fenty/Rhee/Gray/Henderson approach has done is to disenfranchise parents and the voters. We get to elect a mayor every 4 years, but we have very little say about the decision-making that goes on in between elections. As Mayor, I would use mayoral control to bring parents and the public back into the decision-making process.

A Republican Congress forced DC to begin a charter schools program. I believe that we must subject any program forced onto to the city by Congress to a very high level of scrutiny. My concern with the almost completely unplanned growth of charter schools is that we may be unintentionally making the system of public schools worse. In order to sustain our existing neighborhood schools, we must have an overall plan about how we want to educate all of the city’s children, whether in DCPS or charters. For example, we should not allow a new charter school to open close by an existing neighborhood school, in order to avoid a debilitating competition between the two for neighborhood kids. We also need to deal with the problems that have appeared around how we handle per pupil allocations when a child moves from a charter school to a public school. Right now, that child’s money does not follow the child, a process that creates undesirable inequities.

Jack Evans –

Under the current system of Mayoral control, the Mayor appoints the DCPS Chancellor, the head of OSSE and the Director of DOH, as well as other agencies. A strong leader can provide an atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation to ensure we are providing everything a child needs to learn. Yes, I will maintain the current system of Mayoral control over public schools, and as your mayor, I will provide the leadership the school system needs to ensure all of our public schools educate our children.

Washington D.C. spends more money per capita on its students than any other major city in America, yet we lag behind in academic achievement. This is unacceptable. While charter schools should continue operate with autonomy, I believe that if we are going to hold public schools accountable for things like increased performance and parental involvement, charter schools should also have similar accountability standards. This is why I sponsored The Parental Involvement in Children’s Education School Participation, which would establish obligations for parents whose children attend charter schools without subjecting charter schools to regulation.

Muriel E Bowser

– The 2007 mayoral control of DCPS laid the groundwork for improvements we have seen by streamlining and clarifying accountability. In the old system there was too much finger- pointing and much less productivity. We have come a long way and should not go back.

As with any reform, constant re-evaluation is needed. Since 2007, we have invested in fixing school buildings, which can give schools a renewed life and chance at moving in the right direction. It also can create a more settled and safe neighborhood that can have a positive impact on education.

For DCPS schools, tying teacher evaluation and salaries to test scores may not be the best way to foster learning and trust, but teachers must be accountable and so we must work together to find the right balance. Too much standardized testing can be disruptive and we must examine how many tests per year a student should take before the cost outweighs the benefit.

For charter schools, transparency, a rigorous approval and oversight process, and open and fair admissions, given the coming need for neighborhood preference, are my top concerns. Charter schools’ right to expel students to return to a traditional school must be considered.

Tommy Wells

– I will be the first mayor to exercise mayoral authority as envisioned by the reform act. I will use my authority to ensure every child has a quality elementary school within walking distance of their home—and they don’t have to win a lottery to attend. I will move quickly to establish attractive, predictable middle and high school feeder schools, knitting together DCPS and charter schools, aligning grade ranges and strategically filling gaps to provide all students with great options at the middle and high levels. I will raise graduation rates by creating incentives to stay in school and meeting the needs of high-risk students.

As mayor, I will ensure that the charter board makes their processes more visible and explain with how a proposed charter school meets some need or desire expressed by the public. I intend to work with, negotiate with and reason with the charter schools and charter board to make sense of the checkered charter/DCPS offerings. I will not lose focus on our need to radically increase performance across the board, to erase the racial and economic gap and to ensure that all our kids graduate and are prepared to successfully live, work and raise a family.

Published in: on March 30, 2014 at 6:33 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. If only Shallal had a chance…. He’s the only one who actually knows what he is talking about.


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