Paul L. Vance’s resignation last week as D.C. schools superintendent didn’t exactly put the system in a leadership crisis. It’s been at that juncture for years.

Just start with this question: Who runs D.C. public schools? Even Stanley H. Kaplan couldn’t find an easy answer to that one.

Take the system’s $745 million local operating budget. That number gets a once-over by Peggy Cooper Cafritz and her colleagues at the Board of Education. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi takes a peek. Then Mayor Anthony A. Williams gets out his calculator. And don’t forget about Committee on Education, Libraries, and Recreation Chair Kevin P. Chavous and all the other busybodies down at the D.C. Council, who take their red pens to all locally funded D.C. appropriations.

Congress puts in its two cents—er, $13 million—in federally funded school vouchers, too.

Budgetary quarrels, low test scores, maggot-infested cafeteria food, transportation breakdowns—any one of these common crises is enough to set off a round of finger-pointing among vested parties.

LL’s handy schools-accountability chart makes it all clear:

1. Anthony A. Williams


“[T]here are a lot of kids getting a crappy education, and we could do better.”

(Williams pointing the finger at Vance)

The D.C. public schools operate like an “ongoing, slow-moving disaster.”

(Williams pointing the finger at Cafritz)

2. Kevin P. Chavous

Ward 7 Councilmember

“You just can’t say that the mayor and the council don’t support public education if they don’t give [you] a billion dollars.”

(Chavous pointing the finger at Cafritz)

“Baseball is not as much a priority to me as is building schools.”

(Chavous pointing the finger at Williams)

3. Peggy Cooper Cafritz

Board of Education President

“The mayor has lied to the people of the District of Columbia about funding our schools.”

(Cafritz pointing the finger at Williams)

“[A]re we spending what needs to be spent to give our children an equitable education? The answer is no.”

(Cafritz pointing the finger at Chavous)

“I think it’s testosterone run amuck.”

(Cafritz pointing finger at Golden.)

4. George W. Bush

President of the United States

“Let me just put it bluntly: There are some great schools in the District, and there are some lousy schools.”

(Bush pointing the finger at Vance.)

5. Paul L. Vance

D.C. public schools “superintendent emeritus”

“To be very candid with you, I just don’t want to be bothered with it.”

(Vance pointing the finger at Williams, Chavous, and Cafritz)

6. Dwight E. Singleton

Board of Education, Wards 3 and 4

“She doesn’t have a vision….She leads by a cast-iron hand.”

(Singleton pointing the finger at Cafritz.)

7. Vincent B. Orange Sr.

Ward 5 Councilmember

I want my McKinley Tech! “I say shame on the administration.”

(Orange pointing the finger at Williams)

8. Terry Golden

Federal City Council

Cafritz acts as a “disruptive force.”

(Golden pointing the finger at Cafritz)

9. William Lockridge

Board of Education, Wards 7 and 8

“This board shouldn’t sit down, it should stand up!”

(Lockridge pointing the finger at Williams and Chavous

10. Jack Evans

Ward 2 Councilmember

“I happen to favor abolishing the school board.”

(Evans pointing the finger at Cafritz, Lockridge, Singleton)

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