At her next D.C. Council hearing, Chancellor Kaya Henderson may find her seat at the witness table is a little warmer with new Chairman Phil Mendelson presiding.
Mendelson, who voted against the 2007 mayoral takeover of the school system, made it clear that he was not arguing for more changes in the governing structure. But five years later, he said there wasn’t much to show for all the effort.
“What we’ve seen is a lot of controversy regarding test results and still an enormous disparity between the very good schools and the rest of the school system. So I think there’s a lot more work to be done,” he said.
Mendelson, a DCPS parent, has expressed displeasure with various aspects of school operations, from finance to truancy to the issuance of “barring notices” by school principals against allegedly disruptive parents. If elected to a full term in November, he said he would pull school oversight out of the council’s Committee of the Whole and place it back in a reconstituted Education Committee.
“I think that education should be the focus of a single committee,” he said. “I do think there needs to be more vigorous oversight of DCPS, more vigorous than we have seen...It is an enormous bureaucracy so that makes change difficult. But there has to be much more that happens, and it needs to happen more quickly.”
Mendelson added that this did not mean he aspired to micromanagement of the school system. A new committee, he said, should look at education “in the broadest way.”