For Immediate Release:
May 23, 2018
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 -

Addressing our education challenges requires urgent action

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, on D.C. Public Schools and the Mayor’s repeated failure to meet deadlines and respond to the Committee on Education’s inquiries:

“It has been a tumultuous year for education in the District of Columbia. We have made some progress, but it has truly been in spite of the leadership of the Mayor and D.C. Public Schools who continue to drag their feet and throw up walls to the Committee and the Council’s oversight role.

“Last Tuesday I sent a letter to DCPS asking them to lay out the steps they have taken to address the graduation issues that have recently arisen and help students get back on track to graduate. I also requested they provide data to the Committee on Education that will better inform our policymaking so that the Council can be an effective partner in setting our students up for academic success. Another day, another deadline missed. 

“Six weeks ago, I sent a letter to the Mayor expressing my concern that we cannot begin to effectively tackle these issues without stable leadership in the form of a permanent Deputy Mayor for Education and DCPS Chancellor. I asked her to lay out a timeline for the search process and public engagement plan so that we can guarantee that parents, teachers, students, and administrators have buy-in of her eventual nominees and avoid the criticisms lobbed at the opaque process which resulted in the selection of Antwan Wilson. To date, I have not received a response. The Mayor has instead decided to wait until after the June primary, in which she is a candidate, to even begin the search. Next school year will almost certainly begin without a permanent chancellor in place unless we significantly curtail public input, which I have no intention of doing.

“Back in February, after receiving compelling evidence that teachers throughout the city, across grade levels, and in both sectors of public education feel pressure to pass students, it became apparent that issues with graduation and grade promotion may extend beyond high schools.  I asked the Mayor to expand and deepen the graduation investigation completed through Alvarez and Marsal to the charter sector and into the lower grades so that we can fully understand the problems throughout our system.

"It has been three months and the Mayor has not responded, despite repeated assurances from her team that a response was coming.

“These continuing failures to provide answers to simple questions betray a troubling lack of urgency on the part of DCPS and the Executive in addressing the education challenges facing our city. 

“Councilmember Robert White and I will introduce emergency legislation to ensure that students who meet their academic requirements and would otherwise be on track to graduate or be promoted to the next grade but for their absences in the first three terms of this school year are able to advance to the next step in their academic career. This will represent only a minor fix—there are currently over 1,000 DCPS seniors not on track to graduate this year due to poor academic achievement. I can think of few issues that are more urgent, but the Executive Branch seems to accept the status quo.”