WASHINGTON - He's a former teacher, principal, and superintendent. Now, Antwan Wilson's leadership skills will be put to the test in D.C. as he takes over as head of public schools.
He joined us Wednesday - a day after his formal announcement from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser - to talk about vision for D.C. education.
Wilson says he's excited to be here and is ready for the challenge of being responsible for D.C.'s school system.
His focus, he said, will be on advancing all students – with a focus on those who need it the most. "While we want to accelerate all students to ensure that they are reaching their full potential we want to make sure students furthest away from opportunity are also benefiting."
Wilson promises to continue the policies of his predecessors, Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson, who built reputations as national leaders in urban education reform. But while test scores and graduation rates increased under their watch -- the huge achievement gap between white students and non-Asian minorities held steady.
"A lot of people refer to it as the achievement gap," he said at the press conference announcing his new role with District school. "I like to think about it as an opportunity and belief gap and making sure the system is working for every child."
"It's important to celebrate progress that has been made here - it's been tremendous progress,” Wilson told us. “At the same time - we want to not only catch the national average - we expect to put in place activities that lead to us beating the national average."
SCHOOLS: CHARTER OR TRADITIONAL?
Wilson is a big supporter of charter schools and mainstreaming special education students. But the teachers’ union in Oakland blasted Wilson for what they call his emphasis on charter schools over traditional public education.
"I don’t see it as a competition – charter schools are public schools," said Wilson Tuesday.
Wilson is also known for his hands-on approach and is known to make frequent visits to the educational facilities.
Wilson said he expects to begin in February of next year and that his children will attend D.C. Public Schools. Wilson’s contact will likely be for two years with an annual base pay of $280,000. His nomination will need to be approved by the D.C. Council.