D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and other elected officials have decried congressional interference in D.C.’s affairs, as expressed in the Feb. 5 Metro article “Bowser: Congress shouldn’t interfere.” Yet all of D.C.’s elected officials have turned a blind eye to the School Reform Act passed in 1995 by a Republican-controlled Congress, which established the independent Public Charter School Board (PCSB) to use D.C. as an incubator for testing out charter schools. The School Reform Act is arguably the most blatant example of congressional interference in D.C. affairs.
No other city agency is in the position D.C. Public Schools is in of having a competing independent body doing the same work. Just think what an outcry there would be if Congress established an independent police or fire department to compete with our existing police and fire departments. The cost to D.C. taxpayers to operate two separate school sectors is high. D.C. spreads its education dollars thinly across 249 schools (135 are public charter schools) and pays for the management of 69 separate school systems (DCPS is just one of the 69 school systems).
If our elected officials really believe Congress shouldn’t interfere in local affairs, they should take a comprehensive look at the School Reform Act to see how best to support our by-right public school system — and how much choice D.C., not Congress, wants to support.
Suzanne Wells, Washington
The writer is president of the Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization.