DC Councilman's Plan To Reshape Schools Draws Praise and Criticism

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- DC Independent Councilman David Catania is known for stirring things up when he takes on a task such as chairing the Education Committee.

On Tuesday, he was true to form as he introduced seven bills during a session of the city Council, that will drastically change the way theschool system goes about thebusiness ofeducating students, many of them from poor families; most of them testing below the national averages for reading and math.

Catania points out that only 59 percent of the students graduate high school. He predicts it would take 30 years to reach the test score objectives set by the Mayor and School Chancellor, who have the legal responsibility to run the schools.

The reforms the Councilman is now seeking the votes for-- would stop social promotions for students who are not ready to advance to the next grade;there would be more money to educate poor students; Principals would be given their budgets directly, and the Chancellor would have authority to open new Charter schools without contracts for teachers.

Mayor Gray wasn't prepared to comment on specifics on Tuesday except to say the law is clear. Heand the Chancellor would continue to run the schools.

DC Councilman Tommy Wellsis on the Education Committee and he questions whether the plan addresses the disparity between (white and black) student populations. Wells also said the Council should not be in the business of running the schools and they should be providing oversight.

Councilman Marion Barry who represents Ward eight and some of the poorest performing students praised Catania for his proposals. Barry said, "We need to end this disparity".


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