WASHINGTON - Summer break is almost here and the District's new Schools Chancellor, Antwan Wilson, stopped by FOX 5 for an end of year review.
Question: What grade do you give yourself for the first six months on the job.
Antwan Wilson: "I would say that I've worked extremely hard to meet with a lot of people, and in the spirit of standards based grading, I think that I've met the standard of engaging with students, parents, teachers and listening to their concerns and so, I think I've done what I set out to do."
FOX 5: Where do you feel the District is right now as far as maximizing its budget and turning that money into student performance?
AW: "I would say that I'm even more confident than I was when I came in. One of things that I wanted to ensure to be true to D.C. is that the commitment to education, the focus on ensuring that we continue to get better, that has been here in the past would continue to be the case going forward.
I am extremely confident, from the Mayor as well as all of the community engagement conversation that I've had, that that continues to be the focus. That we'll continue to get better. At the same time we want to make sure that we, as you mentioned, maximizing our dollars, focusing on improving instructional practice, supporting our students better and creating environments where students love to be and parents love to send their children."
SCHOOL LOTTERY PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT
FOX 5: The D.C. inspector general has said that former schools chancellor Kaya Henderson may have given preferential treatment to some school officials regarding school placement. Tell us about the plan to be more transparent and fair moving forward.
AW: "We want to make sure that everyone is aware of how these requests can be asked for - first and foremost. And then we want to make sure that people understand that we're rarely going to give them. And they'll be extreme circumstances that may require me to step in, and we want to just make sure there are rules set how I will do that.
I do think it's important for me to say that I have the utmost respect for Chancellor Henderson. She did a tremendous job here in the District, and at the same time, recognize that parents just want to make sure that the process is fair.
I have confidence in the D.C. lottery. I am going through the lottery myself with my three children."
FOX 5: You are?
AW: "I absolutely am."
FOX 5: If the Chancellor has to go through it, shouldn’t everybody have to go through it?
AW: "What I would say is that sometimes there are circumstances that may require us to, require me to involve myself at some level. I think those are rare circumstances. But I would say that if the Chancellor is going through the lottery, that should give people confidence that if I believe that it's going to be successful for my children, there's no reason to believe that it won't be for everyone else."
NEXT PHASE OF EDUCATION
FOX 5: One of things I believe you are focused on is making sure that after elementary school - we keep kids in the district going on into middle and high school. But we're also waiting on the White House to come up with its big plan when it comes to education - whether we're dealing with public, charter or private schools. Is that still one of your priorities here in D.C. and have you gotten any intel from the white house as to what the next phase of education might be and how it might impact the District?
AW: "What I would say is, it is absolutely a focus of ours to keep our students pre k through 12th grade. It's one of the major reasons why we have had investments. This has been focus of the Mayor, certainly focus of mine, to improve the experience of our students in our middle school – starting first with the instructional programs that we have in the schools - making sure they’re robust, rigorous, they're engaging, and then extending to the extracurricular activities. And then we want to make sure parents are aware of all the different options in the city.
What we're hearing from Washington is a lot of conversation around choice and I think choice is extremely important. At the same time, what I'm waiting to hear more of is how we're going to make sure that we have dollars to support students who are furthest away from opportunity which is one of the things that the federal government has spent a lot of time working on. So I’m looking forward to hearing more in that regard."
FOX 5: DCPS says we're not checking immigration status - that's not what we're here to do. Why risk losing funding from an administration that is firmly against sanctuary cities?
AW: "I think it's really important to think about principles here. You know, I signed on to educate all students. And we have students who come from diverse backgrounds and have tremendously powerful stories. And I am proud to be in a city that says, that we value our students, we value their parents, and we're going to do everything we can to help them be successful. I would expect the administration to support schools in that charge to ensure that every student that is in our school is held safely, is put in the best position to succeed, and they would recognize that that is our charge and that is what we’re supposed to be doing."