Renee Bowser testifies against Mayor Fenty's plan to takeover the D.C. Board of Education
The DC Statehood Green Party
Committee to Elect Renée Bowser to Ward 4 Council
Contact: Renée Bowser, 202-882-1733 (home),
Mayor and D.C. Council are scapegoating the School Board and depriving D.C. parents of their right to access and accountability, says Renee, Ward 4D ANC Chair and candidate for Ward 4 member of Council
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Renee Bowser, candidate for the Ward 4 seat on D.C. City Council in the May 1 special election, presented testimony sharply criticizing Mayor Adrian Fenty's 'School Board takeover' plan during a Council hearing on the proposed legislation on February 21.
Renee, speaking before the Council, identified herself as fifth year Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for SMD 4D02 and and chair of ANC 4D.
The full text of Renee's testimony can be read at <http://reneebowser.com/ward4.php/testimony/school_takeover>.
Asserting that Mayor Fenty and the Council are "scapegoating" the School Board for their own failure to serve the interests of D.C. children, Renee Bowser said:
"DC Council and the Mayor have held the purse strings except during the Control Board period.... During the 1990's, Parents United for the D.C. Public Schools did an assessment that showed that the DC Council and the Mayor gave the School System an average of only $18 million annually for capital improvements for all 150 school buildings between 1980 and 1996. This appropriation translated into $300 per student for repairs for the school buildings, one of the lowest rates of any school district in the country.... [P]revious Mayors and the Council deserve much of the blame. When Council and the Mayor decided to build the MCI Arena, the Convention Center, and the Baseball stadium, they could have, instead, appropriated that money to fix, modernize, and build new schools."
Renee stressed that the Fenty plan to transfer the School Board's authority and responsibility for educational policy, if enacted, would be a blow to the democratic rights of D.C. voters and to the need for accountability to parents:
"There is no need to pit democracy against correcting our school facilities. And it is specious to make the argument that if you are against the takeover you're for the status quo.... Mayor Fenty's proposed plan removes from students, parents, teachers, the School Board, and interested community members any authority or even say in the operations of [D.C. Public Schools]."
"This law authorizes the Mayor to disregard parents and their students. [T]he proposed law requires the Mayor to consult with the CEO of the Facilities Management and Construction Authority, the Public Charter School Board, representatives of public charter schools, and the Public School Modernization Advisory Committee. By contrast, it does not require the Mayor to consult with the School Board, public school teachers, parents, or the community."
Renee Bowser has noted that powerful business lobbies in DC, which have a particular interest in seeing an expansion of the failing charter school program and privatization of public school functions, would gain improper influence over education policy if the Fenty plan were enacted. Renee has also criticized Mayor Fenty for inviting Congress to impose the Fenty plan instead of seeking approval for a D.C. Charter amendment, and noted the Mayor's hypocrisy in asking for an antidemocratic exercise of Congress's power over the District shortly after he endorsed D.C. statehood in his inaugural speech. See "Ward 4 candidate Renée Bowser asks D.C. Council to delay vote on School Board takeover until after May 1 special election in Wards 4 and 7" (Press Release, February 1, 2007) <http://reneebowser.com/ward4.php/news/press/delay_vote>.