The votes have been cast, the 2018 elections have ended and now the work must begin on the issue nearly every local politician campaigned and promised would be their most important priority when elected — education. Consequently, we would urge that if there’s anything by which their political success should be measured, it’s the impact their legislative and policy agendas will have on improving educational outcomes for all students, but mainly for the D.C. area’s lowest-performing students and schools. In addition, we assert that increasing secondary educational opportunities leading to careers in the vastly growing new job sectors must be factored in as well.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser can feel encouraged that incremental improvements in school performance and student achievement occurred under her first administration. She retained Kaya Henderson as chancellor — move that offered some sorely-needed stability in the system after the tumultuous tenure of Michelle Rhee who turned DCPS topsy-turvy but with little success in improving reading and math scores or graduation rates. Henderson resigned on her own accord but under a cloud following a reprimand by the D.C. Inspector General for giving city officials priority in the school lottery system and for ignoring a large-scale problem of retaining teachers and principals throughout the system.
There’s little to be said of Bowser’s appointment of Henderson’s successor except one day Antwon Wilson was here, then sooner than you could say “back to school,” he was gone. His departure opened the door for interim Chancellor Amanda Alexander, who began her career in DCPS in 1998 as a kindergarten teacher, turned principal, turned deputy chief of schools turned chief of elementary schools under Henderson and who some favored for becoming the next chancellor.
But Bowser chose to pass the ring to an outsider — Indianapolis Superintendent Lewis Ferebee. But he must first be vetted by principals, administrators, teachers, parents, students and, most important, the D.C. Council.
Voters surely hope that this time Bowser has made a better choice than her last — one which has unquestionably left an indelible mark on her record. She cannot strike out again. The children of the District are too important, and their futures are too fragile not to score runs especially if, as so many of our elected leaders profess, education is truly among our top concerns.