Amid an ongoing school budget battle, the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) recently named Jacqueline Pogue Lyons as its new president and Regina Bell as its new general vice president.
Pogue Lyons and Bells, former WTU vice president and legislative committee chair, respectively, rose to their new positions in the aftermath of WTU President Elizabeth Davis’ April 4 death. In assuming the helm, Lyons evoked the memory of her late colleague.
“We will continue to honor the work and legacy of Elizabeth Davis by working to ensure that our students receive the education they deserve,” Pogue Lyons, a teacher of nearly 30 years, said in a statement on April 12.
“This starts today with our work to prevent cuts to our school budgets and ensure that city leaders follow the law by ensuring city dollars are allocated equitably to our students.”
Pogue Lyons previously served as WTU’s general vice president, a position she has held since 2016. Before then, she taught kindergarten at Savoy Elementary in Southeast. Throughout her education career, Pogue Lyons served at Plummer Elementary, J.C. Nalle Elementary, Thomson Elementary and Hyde Elementary.
As a WTU leader, she advocated for the rights of teachers, supported their certification and development needs and worked to ensure that DC Public Schools [DCPS] followed its contractual obligations to WTU members.
In the weeks before Pogue Lyons and Bell entered their new roles, the D.C. Council conducted hearings and gathered testimony from DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee, teachers and other community members about the budget cuts a number of schools would experience.
Ferebee credited a two percent drop in enrollment and the need to replace technology as the impetus for budget cuts, oftentimes to the chagrin of some council members and teachers.
Throughout the budget season and long before, WTU leaders, including the late Davis, highlighted the loss of library staff members, especially at schools east of the Anacostia River, as a situation that would further burden teachers.
While accepting her new role on April 12, Bell, who once served as a one-time librarian/media specialist, continued to shed light on the plight of her colleagues and the students they teach.
“The pandemic has only magnified the disparities that our students and school communities face,” Bell said. “ To improve equity in education we must fully fund our schools and provide library programs for all students.”