Mayor Anthony Williams did nothing to advance his ambition of taking over control of our school board by his Jan. 9 Close to Home article. After telling us what we already know--that the schools are a mess and it is one of the citizenry's main concerns--Mr. Williams fails to make his case for appointments by the mayor. He states that it "comes down to a simple concept--accountability." Not so. It comes down to Mr. Williams broadening his powers.
The admittedly confusing lines of authority that exist now because of the control board and the board of trustees should be transient as we move out of our fiscal difficulties. The compromise plan the council's education committee put forward to modify but not eliminate our elected school board clears up the confusion about who's in charge without moving the direction of the schools away from the electorate. I have a problem with having eight wards merged into four districts, but the plan is basically democratic in nature. Mr. Williams's claim, on the other hand, that having more power in fewer hands--his and to a lesser extent the council's--bolsters democracy is utter nonsense.
Nothing in Mr. Williams's two most visible forays into education--the fiasco surrounding his ill-founded idea of moving the main campus of the University of the District of Columbia to Anacostia or his clumsy handling of the nomination of the Rev. Willie Wilson to the school's board of trustees--suggests that he has the foggiest notion of how to run our schools. I suggest he concentrate his energies on cleaning up some of the problems he already owns, such as the police department and the tragic situation in the group homes that serve our most vulnerable citizens.
The only thing I like about Mayor Williams's proposal is his suggestion that it be put to a vote in a referendum this spring. Bring it on. I'll take my chances on the future education of our children with the voters of the city.
The writer is a former Georgetown ANC commissioner.