December 18, 2013

The Dec. 12 editorial “Boo to the naysayers” got one thing right: Teachers, parents and public-education stakeholders are angry about the way mayoral control and the Rhee-Henderson school reform experiment with our kids have gone.

The auditorium at Eastern High School was filled Dec. 9 with parents, students, community groups and teachers who are forced to sit by silently when failed reforms are imposed on them. These same constituents are blamed for the problems created by the policies.

The loud cries heard that night included the voices of parents who have been muzzled as their neighborhood schools close. The “boos” came from education groups frustrated by the use and reporting of test scores without acknowledgment of what is omitted from those results. The teachers, those closest to and most responsible for our children’s education, have seen years of dedication to students discredited by a “reform” movement that measures success by counting widgets while ignoring the thousands of students trapped in poverty and low expectations.

The people in that audience were town criers, signaling that this mayoral-controlled education system in the seat of democracy is less than democratic and gives no voice to the vast majority of stakeholders in D.C. Public Schools. The Washington Teachers’ Union is committed to improving the education of all D.C. students. Our voices matter in this political and media-driven climate — even if we sometimes have to yell to be heard.

Elizabeth Davis, Washington

The writer is president of the Washington Teachers’ Union.