RESIDENTS DISGUSTED with the public feuding between factions of the D.C. School Board should applaud the efforts of D.C. Council member Kevin Chavous to negotiate a compromise. Mr. Chavous, who chairs the council's Education Committee, has his work cut out for him. That became apparent last week when Ward 3 school board representative Don Reeves lodged objections to Mr. Chavous's attempt at mediation. As a consequence, the reconciliation meeting was postponed until this week. Mr. Chavous cited "a destructive element" within the board "that is counterproductive to the interests of children."
The council member's frustration was understandable. As he tried to arrange a meeting with school board members to settle their bitter dispute over who should lead the increasingly questionable panel, Mr. Chavous was taken to task by Mr. Reeves in a memo for not polling all board members. Mr. Reeves also chided Mr. Chavous for not communicating with the board through Dwight Singleton, who is regarded as president by Mr. Reeves's six-member majority. The scheduling problem, Mr. Reeves said, "causes me great concern -- both as to your motives and those on the board with whom you have chosen to address in your efforts." [sic] (Mr. Chavous was arranging the meeting through at-large board member Tonya Vidal Kinlow -- a Reeves compatriot.) The silliness goes on.
Mr. Reeves also charged that Mr. Chavous's proposed time to meet "seems intended to prevent my attendance" because it was inconvenient. And he delivered a July 28 "media information" broadside at Mr. Chavous and Mayor Anthony Williams for publicly expressing their concern about the board's quarreling and infighting. Mr. Reeves said the mayor and Kevin Chavous were "both of absolutely no help" with the school reform or transition effort. They became involved, Mr. Reeves asserted, only "for the sole purpose of adding to the negative image and criticism of the elected board."
We don't think Mr. Chavous and the mayor voiced concern about the elected board's behavior out of any desire to tarnish the board's reputation. This board has shown itself quite capable of doing that on its own. The council member and the mayor strike us as acting out of concern for the fate of children in the D.C. public school system. A board of education less inclined to follow the lead of its "destructive element" would behave that way, too.