As Chairman of the Council, at least until the end of 2012, public education falls directly under Phil’s oversight. With a daughter in Alice Deal Middle School, Phil has a personal interest in the District’s public educational institutions and he feels passionately about the need for public schools to do a better job overall. Phil rarely misses an opportunity to talk about public schools.
“This city has a duty and an obligation to improve public education. There’s a lot of spin that you hear — because … “Well we’re doing better.” Well, maybe we’re doing better, but I think that we’re doing so miserably that I really don’t think there is anything to celebrate. … Roughly half of our kids are not where they should be at grade level [proficiency]. … We’re going to lose another generation of kids.
“Education is the opportunity by which our youngest generation can succeed and achieve and realize the American Dream and be whatever they want to be. But if we fail them, then they don’t realize that dream.”
12 September 2012; Phil Addresses Education at a recent public forum
Phil Mendelson was first elected to the City Council in November 1998. He is the Chairman of the Council and Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary and is a member of four additional committees: Jobs and Workforce Development; Libraries, Parks, Recreation, and Planning; Public Service and Consumer Affairs; and the Subcommittee on Redistricting 2011. Along with representing the Council at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, he’s also President of the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO).
Phil has been active with District issues since 1975 when he joined the McLean Gardens Residents Association in the fight to save that 43-acre housing complex from destruction. He ran for a seat on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission in 1979 and continued to serve as an ANC Commissioner until he took office as an At-Large member of the Council. He was elected by the Council to be Chairman on June 13, 2012.
Phil believes government should be an honest, efficient deliverer of services that the District should help those least able to help themselves to develop the skills to become self-sufficient and end the cycle of poverty, and that government must do this without increasing the tax burdens already shouldered by our middle and upper income residents. The District, as the nation’s capital, should be a model of service delivery — in public education, public safety, and public health.
Phil came to Washington from Cleveland, Ohio in 1970 to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in political science from The American University. He grew up in a family dedicated to public service. His mother was a national crusader for nursing home reform. His grandmother had been president of the Michigan State League of Women Voters, was appointed by President Roosevelt to the federal Office of Price Administration, and was a founder of the Grand Rapids Urban League.
Phil has an adorable daughter, Adelaide, who attends the DC Public Schools.