Longtime education activist Matthew Frumin has decided to run in the April special election for an at-large D.C. Council seat, my colleague Tim Craig reported today.
Frumin is a Wilson High parent, advisory neighborhood commissioner and onetime Democratic U.S. House candidate in his native Michigan.
In the D.C. education world, he’s among many who have called on city leaders to develop a comprehensive plan for strengthening public education — and a vision for how traditional schools should coexist with fast-growing public charters.
“We have to come to grips with the role that we want charters to play in our system,” Frumin wrote in testimony prepared for last week’s council hearing on Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s plan to close 20 schools.
Frumin argues that the city is on a track toward two school systems: excellent, oversubscribed matter-of-right DCPS schools west of Rock Creek Park, and a mixture of charter schools and struggling DCPS schools everywhere else.
Henderson’s closure plan neither changes that trajectory nor inspires confidence in parents, he told the council last week.
Frumin said he recognized that some schools need to be closed and some boundaries need to be changed, but officials should “match the bitter with the sweet.”
“Look at exciting ways that you can invigorate local high schools and imbue people with confidence that it will work for them,” he said. “That’s just not what this plan does. There's nothing invigorating about this plan.”
One idea Frumin particularly supports: Moving the selective Duke Ellington School of the Arts from its current home in Ward 2 to under-enrolled Roosevelt High, which is scheduled for a modernization.
Ellington students could end up with a newly renovated, centrally located and Metro-accessible campus, he argues. And the move would vacate a building that could be used for a neighborhood high school, easing enrollment pressure at Wilson High.
“We are now in week one of what will be an intense debate running up to the budget process for FY 2014 about the shape of our education system for the next decade,” Frumin said in his prepared remarks to the council last week. “Or at least let’s hope it is an intense debate, because the stakes are very high.”
An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported that Ellington is in Ward 3. It has been corrected.