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Mayor selects new DCPS chancellor

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Mayor selects new DCPS chancellor

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Ellida Parker

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Mayor Muriel Bowser selected Dr. Lewis Ferebee to be the next DCPS Chancellor, ending a nine-month long search for the District’s sixth permanent chancellor since 2000. Ferebee, currently the Superintendent of Indianapolis public schools, will begin his position on January 31, 2019 if he is confirmed by City Council.

Ferebee will take the place of Interim Chancellor Amanda Alexander, who was one of the two finalists for the permanent position. Alexander began her job after former Chancellor Antwan Wilson resigned amidst revelations that he subverted the school lottery system to secure a spot at Wilson High School for his daughter.

Like three of his predecessors, Ferebee was trained at the BROAD academy, an organization that trains education leaders and has traditionally advocated for a charter school approach. The new deputy mayor for education, Paul Kihn, also received training from the Broad Academy.  

In Indianapolis, Ferebee was praised for raising teacher salaries and correcting the school district’s erroneous belief that they were in debt.

Ferebee’s policies were controversial for shifting the school district away from the neighborhood school model and towards a charter school model that he labeled the “innovation network.” He gave low-performing schools to charter operators, and he created vocational and college-preparatory schools to replace traditional neighborhood high schools.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Ferebee said he does not plan on implementing similar policies in D.C.  He said that will come to DC with no firm agenda, and plans to listen to community members as he begins to work towards improving schools.

“What we need from this chancellor is stability,” said Principal Kimberly Martin in an interview with The Beacon. DCPS has been roiled in scandal for the past year, largely as a result of an investigation which found that one in three DCPS graduates received their diplomas in violation of the school system’s attendance policy. The revelations of 2018 have called into question the progress of DCPS, a school system once regarded as one of the fastest-improving school districts in the country.

In response to these scandals, the school district has gone back and forth repeatedly on policy implementation, giving way to a year of turmoil in DC high schools.

Councilmember Grosso, Chairperson of the Committee of Education, emphasized in a public statement that he wants the confirmation process for Ferebee to be thorough, especially because Ferebee is not currently a DCPS official. “In Dr. Ferebee, the mayor has chosen to nominate an individual from outside the District of Columbia. The vetting process should not be taken lightly or hastily,” he said. Grosso stated that confirmation hearing will begin at the beginning of the new legislative session in January.

“I hope that Mr. Ferebee is able to get some counsel from people who are familiar with the politics and relationships in DC, so he can get a full perspective of the opportunities and challenges that exist in the city,” said Martin. ‘I think he needs to be able to feel the trauma that people have endured.”

About the Writer
Ellida Parker, Editor-in-Chief

Ellida is a senior who has been devoted to The Beacon for several beautiful, news-filled centuries. She is excited to be at the helm of this fine paper...

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Mayor selects new DCPS chancellor