Some of the District's schools advocacy groups were jubilant yesterday at election results that they said formed the kind of Board of Education best suited to help the city's ailing public schools.
The 11-member board will have three new members. Two of the winners, Jay Silberman and Linda Moody, had received support from leaders of Parents United for D.C. Public Schools and the Committee on Public Education, two groups that have pressed for wide-ranging changes in the public school system.
The board will be minus its senior member, R. Calvin Lockridge, who during his 12 years as the Ward 8 representative often was criticized by civic and parent leaders for what they described as meddling in school administration. Lockridge was defeated by Moody, who was able to raise 10 times the amount of money for her campaign as the incumbent. Her fund-raising efforts were aided by significant cash contributions from members of the Committee on Public Education.
Silberman, a leader of Parents United who raised more money than any other board candidate, won the at-large seat.
"I see us as a strong, working coalition that can get back to the business of making a difference for the children," Silberman said. "The vote indicated that the city wants to put a lot of embarrassment and conflict behind us."
"It's a funny feeling to basically get what you hoped for," Delabian Rice-Thurston, director of Parents United, said about the election results. "If these people can't produce, then heaven help us."
The final new member of the board, Sandra Butler-Truesdale, is more closely associated with Democratic Party politics than with the education groups. Butler-Truesdale, president of Ward 4 Democrats, placed first among a dozen candidates seeking to fill the seat that Linda Cropp gave up to run for council.
Incumbents R. David Hall (Ward 2) and Nate Bush (Ward 7) won reelection by wide margins.
The new board will have to choose a new board president, who sets the board's agenda and defines its relationship with the superintendent. The challenge of replacing Superintendent Andrew E. Jenkins also is likely to fall to the new panel.
It also will have to decide on implementing the 18-month-old recommendations from the Committee on Public Education. Those proposals include paying teachers more, ridding the school system of waste, closing some underused schools and extending the time students spend in school.
The board will be grappling with those proposals at a time when the city is in a financial crisis, when belt-tightening, not free spending on programs, is the order of the day.
The three new members all talked yesterday about building coalitions on the school board and with the new city administration and council.
Critics of Lockridge said that is where his absence would benefit the board: Building a consensus is something people seldom attributed to him.
"I consider myself an advocate for people of color who are not a part of the system," Lockridge said. "I do that by any means necessary."
He frequently got things done, often in an aggressive and abrasive style that Lockridge fine-tuned as street organizer in Chicago in the late 1960s.
He was instrumental in keeping open the historic Sumner School on M Street in Northwest. He aided members of the Hispanic community in pushing for the creation of Bell Multicultural High School.
To his supporters, Lockridge was the watchdog over board members and the schools administration. When political protocol inhibited others from doing something, Lockridge did it. When others shied away from unpopular statements, Lockridge said them.
But that damn-the-methods tendency brought Lockridge his share of troubles.
Principals at some schools in Ward 8 complained that he meddled too often in their schools. A school accrediting agency agreed.
"What may be missed is his refreshing candor," said Jim Ford, a former school board researcher who is now an aide to D.C. Council member Hilda H.M. Mason. "I think he calls it as it he sees it."