Kevin P. Chavous

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Kevin P. Chavous (born May 17, 1956) is an attorney, author, national education reform leader, and former Democratic Party politician in Washington, D.C. He was elected as Ward 7 member of the Council of the District of Columbia in 1992 and served three terms until his defeat in the September, 2004 primary. In 1998, Chavous was an unsuccessful candidate for Mayor of the District of Columbia.

Early life and education[edit]

He was born and raised in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood of Indianapolis, Indiana. He is the oldest of four children born to Harold P. Chavous, a pharmacist, and Bettie J. Chavous, a homemaker. Chavous’ first job was working in Chavous Drugs, the family drug store, sweeping and mopping floors and stocking shelves.

Chavous was educated at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis and Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he earned a BA in Political Science. While at Wabash, he was NCAA Division III District All-American in basketball. Chavous also earned a JD degree from the Howard University School of Law, where he was President of his law school class. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Personal life[edit]

In 1982, Chavous married attorney and law school classmate, Beverly Bass Chavous. The couple divorced in 2009. They have two sons, Kevin Bass Chavous, born November 10, 1984, and Eric Bass Chavous, born March 13, 1990.

Political career[edit]

In 1992, Chavous waged an aggressive door-to-door campaign against longtime Ward 7 incumbent H.R. Crawford and school board member, Nate Bush. Chavous upset both, winning the Ward 7 Council seat with 42% of the vote.

After being re-elected in 1996, Chavous became Chairman of the Education, Libraries and Recreation Committee. His elevation as the committee chair coincided with the passage of charter school legislation in the District. Under his committee chairmanship, the DC charter school movement became the most prolific in the nation, with over 25% of the District’s public school children attending public charter schools.

In 1998, Chavous ran for Mayor in the Democratic Party primary. He finished second to eventual nominee and future Mayor, Anthony A. Williams. Chavous was re-elected to the Council in 2000 with 53% of the vote.

In 2003, Chavous and Mayor Williams publicly supported a controversial proposal by President George W. Bush and Education Secretary Rod Paige for a federal school voucher program designed for low income District schoolchildren. The program was part of a three sector initiative in which the federal government provided 50 million dollars to support DC public schools, DC public charter schools and the voucher program. While the voucher program has successfully educated thousands of DC children, Chavous was roundly criticized for supporting it at the time. He lost his 2004 re-election bid to Vincent Gray.

National Education Reform Advocacy[edit]

Since leaving the Council of the District of Columbia in 2005, Chavous has emerged as a leader in the national education reform and parental school choice movement. In 2008, Chavous served on Barack Obama’s campaign education policy committee. He is also a Distinguished Fellow with the Center for Education Reform (CER) and a board member with the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). Chavous is a co-founder and Board Chair of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), a New York based political action committee whose mission is to encourage the Democratic Party to embrace progressive policies which will fundamentally reform American public education.

Chavous is the author of the book Serving Our Children: Charter Schools and the Reform of American Public Education (2004, ISBN 1-931868-69-7).


External links[edit]

Council of the District of Columbia
Preceded by
H.R. Crawford
Ward 7 Member, Council of the District of Columbia
Succeeded by
Vincent C. Gray