Kwame Brown keeps education 'whole'
D.C. Council Chairman-elect Kwame Brown (D) said this morning that he will keep education oversight within the council's Committee of the Whole, where all 13 members will have a voice and a vote. Brown said the city's strapped finances make it more important than ever to send the message that public education reform remains a top priority.
"The city's finances are clearly number one, and education is clearly a part of that," he said. "We need to send a signal that we're still serious about" D.C. Public Schools. Brown added that he wanted to see the council focus on the condition of the city's middle schools as part of its education work.
There had been speculation that Brown, who has headed the council's Economic Development Committee, would take that portfolio with him to the chairmanship and reconstitute a separate education committee. Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray (D) eliminated the panel after becoming council chairman in 2006, contending that all council members should have a stake in the issue. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) had expressed interested in chairing a new education panel. He said in November that education had become so complex that it needed a separate committee chair to bring it proper attention.
But Brown said in a phone interview this morning that it remained merely speculation. "Those are just people's assumptions," he said. Asked if he had discussed his decision with Catania, he said he had not. "I guess I should call him," he said.
Brown also announced that he has hired former D.C. Board of Education president Lisa Raymond as special adviser to the council for education. Raymond, 40, was a prominent supporter of Gray's mayoral candidacy. She's also served as chief operating officer of Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy and is a DCPS parent with twins at Watkins Elementary. Until November, she was with Collaborative Communications Group, consulting with school districts and nonprofits on education matters.