District of Columbia Public Education Reform Amendment Act of 2007

Alice M. Rivlin
Alice Rivlin
Alice M. Rivlin Former Brookings Expert

February 13, 2007

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee: I wish this hearing were about how to make education more effective for the young people of the District, rather than about who is in charge of doing so. It is good news that the city’s political and educational leaders all realize the need for radical change in the schools. We have an energetic new mayor who is making education his highest priority, a vigorous Board of Education president eager to accelerate educational change, a superintendent who has put together a master plan ready to be executed, and a new Council Chair with a track record of effectiveness in the city. Moreover, we are fortunate to live in a rapidly developing city with growing tax revenues and an excellent bond rating and to have a vibrant charter school movement in the city which is providing some models of student achievement in inner city schools.

Our political and educational leaders are not arguing about what the schools actually need. Everyone wants higher academic standards and dedicated, qualified teachers who believe that all children can learn. They want energetic principals with strong administrative skills who will support their best teachers and weed out those who are not performing. They want modern equipment and buildings that enhance rather than impede learning. They recognize that traditional and chartered public schools all spend taxpayers’ money to serve District children and ought to cooperate in spending it well.