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A day after her top rival in the mayoral race announced his opposition to Mayor Vince Gray‘s plan to overhaul public-school boundaries and assignment policies, Democratic nominee Muriel Bowser says in a statement that she, too, can’t support the plan.
Last week, Gray unveiled a series of changes that will comprehensively reform D.C.’s system for assigning students to public schools for the first time in more than four decades. The current system is complex and has led to overcrowding at some schools and underenrollment at others. But the changes he’s adopted have angered some parents who will lose access to highly regarded schools, including those in the Crestwood neighborhood of Ward 4, which Bowser represents on the D.C. Council.
Bowser’s statement of opposition is brief:
The Mayor’s plan on school boundary changes is not ready. His plan serves to exacerbate educational inequality and does little to move school reform forward faster. It lacks the necessary budgetary and leadership commitments to bring about a truly fair neighborhood school assignment policy. I cannot accept these recommendations.
Only the next Mayor can address the plan’s unanswered questions, inherent inequalities across neighborhoods, and with the new Council, address significant budgetary implications. If elected Mayor, I pledge that my first budget will reflect our commitment to make every school high performing. Then, and only then, will we advance meaningful school reform.
Some of Bowser’s criticisms—-the failure to address inequality among schools and the rushed process—-are similar to Catania’s. What’s not immediately clear is whether she plans to oppose the plan through Council action or as mayor, if she wins in November and takes office in January. In either case, the mechanism for doing so is not so simple, given that the plan isn’t subject to Council approval and that its implementation will effectively begin when the school lottery opens in December, before the new mayor is sworn in.
A Bowser spokesman didn’t immediately have an answer as to how Bowser would try to delay or undo the mayor’s proposal.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery