In her inaugural student journalist roundtable, Mayor Muriel Bowser invited five colleges and three high schools to the John A. Wilson building for a press conference. In a rapid-fire question and answer session, the mayor answered questions on a wide ranging set of topics.
A top concern for journalists across the city was President Trump’s recent executive order banning refugees from seven countries. “Elections have consequences and we have a president who is executing on his campaign promises. Rest assured, we will hold him accountable to the law,” said Bowser. Another priority was Washington DC’s status as a sanctuary city. As The Beacon reported last month, Washington DC has joined many cities around the country to reaffirm their commitment to Americans, regardless of legal status. “Washington is a safe and inclusive city,” said Bowser.
Building off the consequences of the election, The Beacon asked Bowser how Republican control of Congress impacts her agenda. Recently, members of Congress including Republican Jason Chaffetz from Utah, have taken aim at DC’s locally passed laws. He recently attacked the “Death with Dignity” law that lets terminally ill patients choose to end their lives, introduced by Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh.
Chaffetz also proposed the idea of retrocession, which would give DC back to Maryland. “I really would love to explore the idea of retroceding the residential areas into Maryland,” said Chaffetz in a Congressional Oversight Hearing. DC and Maryland have never proposed this as a solution to get full voting rights, and many DC elected officials see it as an unacceptable solution.
Bowser admits that Congress has the ability to impact DC laws, but in the face of growing Congressional resistance, Bowser stated that her policies and values, “did not change on election day.” She made it clear that she will continue to fight for the rights of all Washingtonians regardless of what happens on Capitol Hill and at the White House.
The roundtable convened the day after Antwan Wilson’s first day as the new DCPS Chancellor, and The Beacon wanted Mayor Bowser’s thoughts on the new Chancellor and his priorities, specifically regarding the achievement gap. We informed the group that Wilson is one of the highest performing schools in the District, yet the achievement gap remains one of our most pressing issues. There is, on average, more than a point difference between the GPA of white and Black students, and despite major improvements in the past few years, only 59 percent of Black students took at least one or more AP compared to 91 percent of white students. Mayor Bowser told The Beacon that closing the achievement gap at Wilson, and across the District, is one of her top priorities. She said that the gap is “pervasive across urban schools, and it reflects an opportunity and income gap.” She is “completely confident in [Chancellor Wilson’s] experience.”
*This article appeared in the February/2017 issue of the paper
PHOTO COURTESY OF BEN KORN