Community Profile: Elizabeth Davis, WTU President

Dorothy Rowley | 8/6/2013, 6:07 p.m.
Elizabeth Davis is the newly-elected president of the Northwest-based Washington Teachers Union.
Elizabeth Davis

Elizabeth Davis is the newly-elected president of the Northwest-based Washington Teachers Union. She won the vote by 55 percent, having defeated Nathan Saunders in a run-off election this summer, and officially assumed the helm on Aug. 1 to serve a three-year term.

The 62-year-old educator, who taught for 41 years in nine D.C. public schools, lists several items on her agenda for school reform. Among them is to work closer with Chancellor Kaya Henderson to determine what real school reform means and its impact on students' quality of learning, as well attracting and keeping good teachers.

"I want school reform to be more than students' ability to pass a standardized test," Davis said. "I've seen cases where the tests were not sufficient to get them through post-secondary education, and in some cases where students simply didn't graduate … Overall, I don't want to be a roadblock to reform [as] I see the WTU as an ally in helping the chancellor get the reform issue right."

Davis added that when it comes the issue of extended school days, student achievement doesn't result from a longer school day, but from having had a better school day.

"Why focus on extending the school day when students have depleted resources?" Davis asked. "What you end up with is a longer, boring day. So why not enrich the school day?"

On more generic terms, the enthusiastic Davis, who grew up in D.C. and currently lives in Ward 5, provided quick responses to these inquiries:

WI: What do you like most about D.C.?

ED: D.C. is one of the most beautiful cities in the nation, even though most of us take it for granted, including myself, until I actually take the time to wander and get lost. The District is like a little microcosm of the nation where you have people here from all over the world. It's like one the richest, most rigorous classrooms in terms of culture, and one of the richest cities in the nation – not to forget that it is the seat of power.

WI: What do you like least about D.C.?

ED: I don't like that we don't have voting rights. It's like a colony that comes with the mentality that residents have no power. It's hypocritical to say that this is a democracy and yet people who live in the city and pay taxes, but have no voting rights.

WI: What's the latest book you've read or are reading?

ED:I'm skipping all over the place, and one of them is Diane Ravitch's book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System."

WI: What's your favorite way unwind at the end of the day?

ED: Oh, that's so easy! I really like digging in the ground in my backyard, because I'm an avid gardener. I grow plants and flowers and I also do some landscaping for my neighbors.