- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2000

On Nov. 7, D.C. voters will make history by electing a president of the Board of Education. The victor in this particular race must be a tested, trusted and respected leader.

All three candidates are well-known. Peggy Cooper Cafritz stands out because of her remarkable national reputation as an education and arts advocate. Locally, her brightest star is the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, of which she is co-founder. Mrs. Cafritz, 53, also has served on the D.C. Board of Higher Education and as a trustee for the University of the District of Columbia.

Lawrence Gray, 52, is legislative chairman for the D.C. Congress of PTAs. He is an activist. He also is a strong and vocal opponent of the school governance referendum which, oddly enough, opened the door for him to run for the seat he currently seeks.

The Rev. Robert G. Childs, 44, is the current president of the school board, an at-large member since 1996 and pastor of Berean Baptist Church. He also lectures on Hebrew language and practical ministries at Howard University School of Divinity.

Those are the bare facts. Here are a few reasons why The Washington Times recommends a vote for Mr. Childs. As chairman of the board's Education Committee during his first year in office, Mr. Childs showed his support for school choice by helping define policies for the first charter schools. While he believes programs for vouchers need to be better explained, he would support vouchers for D.C. youths if they do not take funds from the school system's budget. He supports the master facilities plan being drawn up by parents, wants to partner with community-based groups to combat truancy, wants separate procurement and payroll systems for the school system, wants a quality teaching corps, and knows arts, athletics and vocational education are important. During his presidency, the school board's heretofore rancorous public meetings and back-room squabbles ended.

Those are important considerations in light of the future. The next board will be a hybrid, which is to say it will consist of five elected members and four appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the D.C. Council. Moreover, the board seated in 2001 will have its full powers restored. Students and their parents stand to benefit from a reform windfall if the president of that body has the ability to bring together various agendas with one common goal.

Clearly, as the senior pastor of a large congregation for 15 years, an at-large member of the D.C. Board of Education for nearly four years, and as the president of that board for nearly a year, Mr. Childs has demonstrated he is the right leader during this time. The Times is pleased to endorsed the Rev. Robert G. Childs.

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