District public school teachers and local education advocates continue to mourn the loss of Washington Teachers’ Union [WTU]) President Elizabeth Davis – one of two victims in a fatal car crash on Easter Sunday.
Reports from the Maryland State Police said Davis, who was driving along Route 301 in Bowie, Maryland, and another driver collided. The other driver, a man in his late 60s, died on the scene while Davis, 70, succumbed to her injuries at Prince George’s County Hospital.
The WTU released a statement on Monday morning confirming the news.
“President Davis has been at the forefront of public education advocacy and reform, leading the WTU’s transformation into a social justice, solution-driven organization dedicated to advancing and promoting quality education for all children, irrespective of their zip codes or results of the school lottery, improving teaching and learning conditions and aggressively amplifying the voice of teachers in the dialogue around issues of teaching and learning,” the statement read.
“We are confident that her legacy will continue to shape the WTU as well as education across the District.
In the days before her death, Davis remained in the throes of a battle with the DC Public Schools [DCPS] central office about proposed budget cuts that would have significantly reduced the teaching staff at nearly 50 schools located east of the Anacostia River even with little to no change in student enrollment.
She had also expressed plans to hold education officials accountable to the < a href=”https://washingtoninformer-newspack.newspackstaging.com/student-data-collection-mired-in-controversy/” target=”blank”>findings of an auditor’s report</a> that pointed to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s delinquency in collecting longitudinal student data.
Throughout the reopening process, the WTU, with Davis at the forefront, engaged DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee about the conditions under which students would return amid a raging pandemic. In February, not long after some teachers returned to the classroom for Term 3, WTU came close to approving a teachers’ strike via a vote.
Even though the strike never came to fruition, the WTU mulled other means of expressing discontent with the reopening process championed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and DCPS.
Davis, a District educator of 44 years, took over leadership for the WTU in 2013. She garnered a reputation among both her colleagues and detractors as an orator and staunch advocate for teachers, particularly those working in schools east of the Anacostia River.
As Chantal Fuller, a special education teacher at Excel Academy Public School, recounted to The Informer, Davis often had a way of encouraging teachers around her to stand up for themselves without apology.
“We recognized that Elizabeth Davis was here for a purpose and she was here for us. She reiterated that teaching conditions are learning conditions,” Fuller said.
“She had no qualms about expressing that for us. If we got our needs met, that translated to students getting their needs met. Elizabeth had tenacity and bravery in dealing with local and national politicians who had things to say about how she chose to advocate for us. This is a big loss.”