- The Washington Times - Monday, November 20, 2000

Mayor Williams last week appointed four members to the school board, and today the D.C. Council's education panel is scheduled to hold a public roundtable on their confirmation. Such engagements are mandated by law, and it is hoped the council challenges the nominees to articulate how they plan to carry out their responsibilities.

Laura Gardner, a mother and Ward 7 resident active in civic affairs, has a 30-year career in education. She is a professor of student development at Montgomery College and has a substantial background in urban educational policies. "She brings a strong commitment and comprehensive approach to educating children," the mayor said. Council member Kevin Chavous, who will lead the discussion as chairman of the panel, needs to get Mrs. Gardner to detail some of her ideas.

Charles R. Lawrence III is an educator, too. He has two children in Shepherd Elementary, teaches law at Georgetown and is a scholar on race relations. Mr. Lawrence, the mayor said, represents the "intellectual rigor of an academic along with the heart and passion of parent." Interestingly, Mr. Lawrence is a former school principal and served on several charter school boards.

Robert Peck has two children in D.C. public schools and has extraordinary insight into how public facilities should be managed. Mr. Peck is director of public buildings for the U.S. General Services Administration. He ought to have some opinions on facilities and modernization programs. The public has a right to know those opinions.

Roger Wilkins, who lives in Southwest, inarguably possesses the highest name recognition among the four nominees. He is a professor of history and American culture at George Mason University, former journalist for two Washington dailies, former trustee at the University of the District of Columbia, former assistant U.S. attorney general, civil rights activist and author. "He's made a career out of applying research to shape the lives of people, particularly young people," as the mayor said.

The mayor has done his part per the council's instructions and selected the nominees. The voters chose the other five members on Nov. 7. Now the impetus shifts to Mr. Chavous and the council, who must determine whether those four credentialed nominees' have the wherewithal to do the job.

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