The Washington Post’s Emma Brown reports today that Antwan Wilson, the current superintendent of schools in Oakland, California, is to be named the new Chancellor of DCPS, replacing Kaya Henderson, who resigned her position this year.
I have to admit I’m already excited by this decision by Mayor Bowser. As Ms. Brown reveals, Mr. Wilson generated controversy at his current job by being too cozy with charter schools. From her article:
“Critics, including many in the teachers’ union, accused him of trying to aid charter schools at the expense of the city’s traditional public schools. Protests erupted at school board meetings, where teachers and activists — many of them white, according to the Bay Area News Group — accused Wilson of being ‘the face of new Jim Crow.’
‘I’m not going to stand by while someone who doesn’t look like me accuses me of carrying out some form of Jim Crow,’ Wilson told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this year. ‘I teach my own kids that no one can take your dignity and only you can control your temper. I tell them that I know who I am. I know my history.'”
It makes perfect sense that Mr. Wilson would seek to work closely with charters. He spent a decade in Denver as a school principal and assistant superintendent. As I have written, this past summer I attended an Amplify School Choice Conference sponsored by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity in Denver where I learned that the city actually has a District-Charter Collaboration compact. Apparently, what sparked anger by regular public school supporters in Oakland was Mr. Wilson’s proposal that there be a common lottery with charters for parents making enrollment decisions for their children. For years now, Washington D.C. has had such a common lottery, as does Denver.
The new Chancellor, whose selection must be approved by the D.C. Council, understands the power of education in turning around the lives of those on the low end of the economic spectrum. He was raised by a single mother, as Ms. Brown explains, and from Kindergarten through high school he attended ten different schools and resided in 15 different homes.
Mr. Wilson, 44 years old, travels in the same school reform circle as Ms. Henderson and former Chancellor Michelle Rhee. He received training by the Broad Academy, which supports many of the initiatives started by these two women, including tying teacher evaluations to student academic achievement.
“Schools can save lives,” Mr. Wilson is quoted as observing. That is exactly what D.C. charters have been doing now for 20 years.