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DC Councilmember Tells Mayor To Remove Education Chair Over Betsy DeVos Support

D.C. Council Member David Grosso urged Mayor Muriel Bowser Wednesday to remove education co-chair Anthony Williams over his support for Betsy DeVos, who now serves as secretary of education.

In a letter sent to Bowser, Grosso argued that former Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams must be removed from his position as co-chair of the D.C. Cross-Sector Collaboration Task Force because he abandoned neutrality through his vocal support for DeVos during Senate confirmation hearings.

The Cross-Sector Collaboration Task Force is an initiative responsible for delivering a report to the mayor on how best to improve coordination between public schools in Washington, in order to boost student success.

For Grosso, Williams’ open support for DeVos compromises his ability to render impartial recommendations. Williams featured in a video posted online by the American Federation for Children, in which he enthusiastically backed DeVos.

“In my opinion,” Grosso wrote, “this creates a conflict of interest given his influential role on the Task Force and its stated mission.”

“As I stated to Deputy Mayor Niles, it is the opinion of the majority of our residents that “public schools” includes both traditional and public charter schools,” Grosso continued. “The Task Force’s mission of creating recommendations for a fair public education and Mr. Williams’ endorsement of a nominee who supports voucher programs are in conflict.”

Grosso then argued that past experiments of voucher programs in D.C. resulted in public dollars being funneled to low-quality, low-performing private schools.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is a long-time advocate of school choice: the idea that parents can receive vouchers to send their children to schools they prefer, whether that school is a private school, charter school or magnet school.

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