The candidates for D.C. mayor on school reform

How can we speed the pace of improvement in struggling DCPS schools? Some mayoral candidates say it just takes time, and Andy Shallal says we need to focus more on the effects of poverty. But Tommy Wells wants to bring in successful charter organizations to turn schools around.

“I think sometimes it takes DCPS too long to turn an elementary school around,” Wells said, mentioning a period of three to four years in the case of one school, Tyler. “And we know that there are national-model charter schools across the country that can come in and turn a school around within a year to two years.”

Charter authority for Henderson

Wells said that if elected he would give DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson the authority to charter schools herself. (Right now the only body in the District with the authority to issue charters is the Public Charter School Board.) He would then recruit charter networks who have a proven track record of success and bring them in to run failing DCPS schools.

Neighborhood children would still be able to attend those schools as a matter of right. And, he said, “those schools may become traditional DCPS schools again. But we can’t wait, we can’t close more schools and consign more neighborhoods to not being able to have great schools.”

The current administration, Wells said, has been “coasting forward on the work done by the previous administration.” He promised that if elected he would court successful charter organizations with the same aggressiveness that he said Mayor Vincent Gray employs in luring businesses such as Microsoft to the District.

[Continue reading Natalie Wexler’s post at Greater Greater Education.]

Natalie Wexler is the editor of Greater Greater Education and a member of the board of the D.C. Scholars Public Charter School. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

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