Hit & Run

D.C. Public School Chief Resigns After Sneaking His Kids Into Top School

Top public school officials will risk their careers to have school choice. Maybe they should let everyone else have it too.


Lorie Shaull/Flickr

The top public school administrator in Washington, D.C., resigned his position Tuesday, four days after it was revealed that he had conspired with another official to place his daughter in the district's highest-performing public high school. In the process, Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson bypassed the rules governing placement of district students in schools outside their own neighborhoods.

The other official, Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles, was forced to resign last week.

Wilson is the second consecutive chancellor to be embroiled in a school placement scandal. Last May, The Washington Post obtained a report from the city's inspector general revealing that his predecessor, Kaya Henderson, had helped influential D.C. officials get their children directly into the most desirable schools by bypassing the lottery system with so-called "discretionary placements." By the time the report became public, Henderson had already left the school system following a five-year stint in the top job.

On one level, this is maddening malfeasance. District residents have now had two consecutive chancellors, both of whom promised to be champions of reform and good governance, caught abusing their positions for personal gain in the same way. Families across the city with many fewer resources than these officials face the school lottery's notoriously long odds every year. Often, it's their only chance to avoid dismally underperforming neighborhood schools. That the people responsible for maintaining and operating that system are apparently unwilling to play by the rules they enforce is inexcusable and grotesque.

But it's worth pausing to ponder why Wilson and the others did this. In addition to being city leaders, these people are parents. They are fiercely determined to give their children the best chances at success that they can get. In D.C., placement at an out-of-neighborhood school can mean the difference between plentiful access to advanced course offerings and competent college counseling and no access to either.

At the end of the day, these self-dealing bureaucrats were trying to get what libertarians have long argued all parents deserve: meaningful choices about where to educate their kids. It's not enough to kick them out of office. We need to extend what was once their privilege to everyone else.

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  1. Washington DC has a huge problem with people from outside the District getting false addresses to then send their kids to the few really good schools in the District. Most of the people doing it are middle class and poor black parents stuck in the horror that is Prince George's County Schools. And the people most complaining about it are rich, white liberals who don't want black kids going to their little snowflake's school. And like all rich, white liberals, they think school choice is the worst thing ever unless of course it is done by white people exercising their economic power to live in a good school district.

    1. Its all about open national borders but closed school district borders for which school you can send you kid to.


    2. the horror that is Prince George's County Schools

      But the property taxes are the highest in the region. That means the schools are the best!

    3. "And like all rich, white liberals, they think school choice is the worst thing ever unless of course it is done by white people exercising their economic power to live in a good school district."

      Rich white liberals are a funny bunch. After living in Boulder, CO and San Francisco I can testify they are wholly unaware of their inconsistencies.

  2. What's the point of even being an apparatchik if you don't get to game the system in your favor?

  3. Communism's ideals at their very finest.

  4. This guy was hired away from Oakland CA as 'a master of turning schools around'.
    Great job; the Oakland schools get a C- from a rating service, and that's probably a courtesy:

    1. But it got an A in diversity! Yay!

  5. So socialists want you to suffer and your kids to suffer but they want to conspire to get all the benefits they think their positions hold.

    1. Dig your head out of your ass. They don't want you to suffer. They just know that your pain is what's best for the collective.

    2. But of course. Equal outcomes for all the serfs citizens and superior outcomes for the benevolent bureaucrats is only fair. It's awful hard work telling everyone else what to do!

    3. "If you are asking for more or simply different for yourself you are a greedy individual. Such ideology makes you not wrong, but an evil and malicious ENEMY of the proletariat! The ONLY option with how to deal with you is force. How much we apply depends on how quickly you re-educate yourself (or on how much we can extract from you, whichever makes us happier in the moment... which usually ends up being both your death AND and confiscation of your things)."

      I imagine that's not what they would ACTUALLY say... at least not all of it. But I'm sure the left is thinking it.

  6. I have an address in a certain district with mail forwarding that is available for a price. Very reasonable...

  7. It's kinda like how public school teachers send their kids to private school at a higher rate than average!

    1. Do you have a source for this? I'm not being contentious, I want to bookmark it.

      1. I found this 2004 study:

        "The data have shown the same basic pattern since we first happened upon them two decades ago: Urban public school teachers are more apt to send their own children to private schools than is the general public."

        In Chicago, to take a blatant case:

        "(Chicago Public Schools) ranks third among the 50 largest school systems in the proportion of teacher households that send the kids to private school. In comparison, only 22.6 percent of non-teacher households in Chicago send children to private schools."

  8. Allowing parents to chose schools is not a good idea. What if a parent chose a school that did not supply the proper load of liberal indoctrination? If this were to happen, you might actually have graduates who are libertarian or, gasp, conservative.

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