Calls for more transparency in wake of DC schools chancellor’s resignation

WASHINGTON — During an oversight hearing on Wednesday — one day after the D.C. Public Schools chancellor resigned — members of the D.C. Council Education Committee called for more transparency from the school system.

Council member Robert White said students in school are told it’s not enough that they understand a problem, but they also have to show their work. “I believe that we have to hold our school system to that same basic ‘show your work’ standard,” he said at Wednesday’s hearing.

“I’m still looking for data to match the rhetoric I hear about our education strategy,” White added.

Referring to an audit that showed as many as one-third of DCPS students graduated despite being chronically absent or failing to meet proficiency levels, Council member Elissa Silverman decried “a culture of doing whatever it takes — including cooking the books or fudging the numbers — to show student improvement.”

“This cannot continue,” Silverman said.

Mary Levy, a former DCPS parent, said she has seen 17 superintendents — now called schools chancellors — come and go in D.C.

“I’m apprehensive that we will continue the culture of fear, the blind worship of test scores, top down administration and unfettered churn,” she told the council members.

Levy said despite the lapse by the now former D.C. schools chancellor, Wilson should be credited for getting out into the communities and “really listening” to parents’ concerns. Others testifying at the hearing echoed Levy’s sentiments.

However, noting that Wilson had violated his own rule when he bypassed the DCPS lottery system in order to place his daughter in one of the District’s top-rated schools, Council member Charles Allen said Wilson had further damaged already frayed trust among many parents.

Allen said as the school system searches for the next permanent chancellor, it will be a lot of hard work when it comes to regaining the public trust. “It’s going to be about a lot more than simply changing the person at the top and switching out one person for another,” he said.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who had appointed Wilson just last year, announced his resignation Tuesday afternoon. Bowser named Dr. Amanda Alexander as the interim chancellor. Alexander had been the chief of the Office of Elementary Schools for DCPS.

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