EDITORIAL: Chancellor’s Sudden Departure Fractures Hope

Antwan Wilson
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson speaks at a June 14 media roundtable about the high number of Ballou Senior High School teacher resignations. (Lateef Mangum/The Washington Informer)

The chancellor for D.C. Public Schools (DCPS), Antwan Wilson, is officially gone. The call for his resignation by six members of the D.C. City Council and others became official when Mayor Muriel Bowser, who initially stood by him, accepted his resignation on Tuesday.

The mayor said Wilson had lost the trust of parents when he violated terms in his contract that prohibit parents from bypassing the school lottery system to get their child into a school of their choice. It’s impossible to ignore the irony that Wilson, the author of that rule, found it necessary to apologize to those who had entrusted him with the care and future of their children after it became public knowledge that his daughter had been benefited from Wilson bypassing the system, so she could change schools for reasons affecting her academically and emotionally.

Wilson is not the first public official who has skirted the system, nor is he alone as a parent taking extraordinary means to ensure the best educational option for his child. Unfortunately, those in the highest positions or with the greatest influence often succeed, while others are left to accept the spoils of an inequitable education system. Wilson was brought here to change that but broke his own rule.

It’s disappointing that Wilson’s tenure had to end this way – less than one year and one month into his first term. His visits to every D.C. public school meant a lot to parents and students – hopeful that things might change.

When Wilson resigned from his job as superintendent in Oakland in the middle of the school year to come to DCPS, he undoubtedly left students and parents feeling uncertain about the future. That said, in this instance, no matter how much Mayor Bowser asserts that teaching and learning will continue, his abrupt departure will impact D.C. parents and students in similar fashion.

Bowser said the mayor controls the District’s schools while the D.C. Council is responsible for their oversight. It is up to them now to support Dr. Amanda Alexander, interim chancellor, to ensure the next four months of this school year end on a positive note.


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