D.C. Plan to Close 20 Public Schools Draws Opposition, Though Some Legislators See No Other Choice

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Yesterday the D.C. Council wrapped up two hearings on D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson's plan to close and consolidate 20 schools in the coming two years. During the 14 hours of discussion and debate, councilmembers both heard from Henderson and questioned her plan, while activists and residents from across the city stayed at the Wilson Building for hours in order to make their opinions heard.

Over the course of the two hearings, the majority of the councilmembers seemed to grudgingly agree with Henderson on a key point: some under-enrolled schools will have to close. While calling the process "traumatic" for students and parents, Council Chair Phil Mendelson said that "consolidation makes sense." Councilmember Michael Brown (I-At Large) argued that "some schools are going to have to close," while Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) similarly insisted that under-enrolled schools could not remain open. "Some public schools have to close...we can't keep acting like we have our heads in the sand," he said.

Only Councilmember Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), whose ward is slated for five school closures, said that she favored a moratorium on closing any more schools and asked that more resources be directed to her schools.

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