Greater Greater Education

Shallal and Wells air views on education at mayoral forum

At a debate among mayoral candidates in Georgetown on Thursday, Andy Shallal said DC schools need more social services to deal with the effects of poverty, and Tommy Wells vowed to put high-quality elementary schools within walking distance of every family.

The debate, sponsored by the Current Newspapers, featured 6 of the declared candidates, including Shallal and Wells, but incumbent Mayor Vince Gray was absent.

The video above shows Shallal's response to a question from moderator Davis Kennedy, publisher of the Current papers. Kennedy's question, which is hard to hear on the video, was essentially whether Shallal would retain DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson, given recent signs of progress in the school system.

Shallal took issue with that premise, saying that the achievement gap between white and black students "has gotten wider since this so-called education reform has actually taken place." He also took a swipe at Henderson for her recently reported remarks that, as Shallal put it, "we cannot do middle schools."

Shallal called for a moratorium on closing neighborhood schools and said that schools must be able to offer "wraparound services" to counteract the effects of poverty on students.

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells also addressed education, touting the success of elementary schools in his ward. He said that all of them have waiting lists and that they are the most economically integrated schools in the District. As mayor, he said, he would extend that success to all other wards as well.

Wells didn't address the question of middle school quality. Parents, including some in Ward 6, have recently been complaining that there are few good options for their children after elementary school.

Martin Moulton is an education advocate who lives in the Shaw neighborhood. He is originally from California where he attended public, private and parochial schools. He works in the tech sector. A life long cyclist/non-driver, he serves on the board of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Moulton has served as a consultant to KIPP DC in its community outreach. 
Natalie Wexler is a board member at DC Scholars Public Charter School and a volunteer tutor in a DC Public School. She also serves on the board of The Writing Revolution, an organization that brings the teaching of analytical writing to underserved schools. She has been a lawyer, a historian, and a journalist, and is the author of three novels. 

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Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells also addressed education, touting the success of elementary schools in his ward. He said that all of them have waiting lists and that they are the most economically integrated schools in the District. As mayor, he said, he would extend that success to all other wards as well.

Um, how exactly are you going to do that, Tommy? How are you going to create economically integrated neighborhood schools in neighborhoods that are anything BUT economically integrated?

Shallal's harping on the achievement gap is neither here nor there - the school system itself is quite obviously NOT the cause of the gap - but he's right that the provision of wraparound services does need to be part of the solution. Schools can be a critical focal point, not just for children's education but for neighborhood capacity-building as a whole.

by Dizzy on Jan 13, 2014 11:45 am • linkreport

Brilliant move by gray. Let the midgets take over, marginalize Browser and Evans, and cruise to re election.

by charlie on Jan 13, 2014 11:59 am • linkreport

The forum was really light on follow up. Davis Kennedy only asked ONE school question of the entire panel — aside from the one separate direct to Shallal. Davis' interests seemed to be geared more toward automobilists — regretting the motor vehicle congestion that is a direct result of the decision Georgetowners insisted upon decades ago when they rejected having a Metro rail stop in their community — than the growing number of families raising children in the District. Most questions sounded as if the were written by Jack Evans' campaign staff, Other #capitalistinfotainmentmedia coverage focused on the clownish Christian Carter who turned the event into more of a circus than the ring leader.

When we have more sophisticated press types, we'll have a more informed electorate, get better elected officials and enjoy a nicer city.

by Martin on Jan 13, 2014 2:12 pm • linkreport

Martin Moulton, one of the writers of this article, is also a declared candidate (for Shadow Representative in the Libertarian primary). This should have been noted in the article or in his bio. It's called FULL DISCLOSURE!

by dc 2014 on Jan 14, 2014 9:48 pm • linkreport

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