2016 Graduation, SBOE Update

Eastern_graduation.jpgAs we wrap up the school year, I wish to thank all of our #Ward6 school staff for their commitment to our students and our community. And, I want to extend a special Thank You to the principals and teachers who not be returning to our communities next year. #Ward6 is losing a number of great school leaders and my thanks go out to the parents, teachers and community members for your efforts to ensure that our schools continue to move forward.

 

SBOE Update

What do YOU think makes a school successful?

What do YOU think makes a school successful? Is it test scores? Student progress from year to year? Is it that students are engaged in learning? Is it that the school has an arts or music program? Is it a combination of these and other factors? 

The DC State Board of Education is working with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to reframe what success means for schools in the District of Columbia, and we want to hear from you! We are hosting eight events over the next three weeks to begin this process. At these meetings, you will learn more about new rules for school and student success, and how you can help the SBOE shape the vision for schools across the District.

I hope that you can join me at the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization Meeting on Tuesday, June 21 at Capitol Hill Montessori @ Logan to learn more and add your voice to the discussion. 

If you can’t make it on June 21, SBoE members are holding discussions across the city. Click here to find out where the meetings are being held. Or you can submit your comments online.
 
Student Representatives:
The DC State Board of Education has opened the application process for its 2016-2017 Student Representatives and Student Advisory Committee. Student Representatives serve as full members of the State Board of Education in all aspects but official votes.

The Student Representatives also serve as co-chairs of the Student Advisory Committee. The Committee consists of at least 15 high school students, one from each of the 10 largest high schools in the District, and 5 additional members from other high schools.

The application for both positions is online. If you want more information, email the State Board at sboe@dc.gov.

 

City Council Moves FY2017 Budget Forward

On May 31st, the City Council approved the District’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget. You can find the Council’s FY17 Budget Oversight Documents here and the Education Committee’s Report here.
 
Overall, I believe that the budgets continue strong investments in our schools – DCPS as well as public charter – and I applaud the efforts made by both the Mayor and Council to move towards a more objective and data –driven approach to school modernization. However, when the data that is utilized is not of a high quality and priorities are developed without public input, we will never reach consensus on the best path forward for our schools.
 

May 18 State Board of Education Public Meeting

DME NilesThe State Board of Education welcomed Deputy Mayor Jenny Niles to our May 18th Public Meeting to discuss reports of lead in our schools and provide an update on DCPS’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).  You can access the video of the meeting here.

Lead. I continue to be deeply troubled by the reports of lead in our Ward and city schools and am disappointed in the efforts to communicate the issues to our school communities. That said, I largely agree with the administration that this is a “crisis of communications” rather than a public health crisis. The administration has a plan in place to remedy any lead in our schools’ water supplies and ensure transparency in the process moving forward.

A copy of the Deputy Mayor's letter to the City Council and SBOE on the path the city is taking to address the issues of lead in our schools’ water is available here including dates for additional screenings for students. Water sampling results for individual schools will be posted - http://dgs.dc.gov/…/water-sampling-results-dc-public-schools - as soon as they are available.

School Modernization. Every student deserves to be taught in a facility that is safe, healthy and meets the academic program needs. The city has made tremendous progress towards this goal over the past two years thanks to the work of Council’s Committee on Education and via the development of a new Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for DCPS. And, I thank the Deputy Mayor for answering many of the Board's questions about the process.  However, I continue to believe that the systems developed continue to include bad data and poor assumptions, undermining their effectiveness and continuing us on a path that will not meet the needs at many of our school communities.

Our Path Forward… I believe that the city could go further to restore the trust of the community and demonstrate their commitment to ensuring the health and safety of all students by supporting calls for a full environmental assessment of every school building to ensure that all students are in facilities that meet basic standards for air and water quality, lighting, acoustics, heating and related factors that directly impact student health and learning. I largely share the same goals of our city leaders with regard to the Capital Improvement process – modernized schools that meet the needs of our students. However, we’ve seen time and again and again and again that the school modernization process has lacked accountability and failed to deliver for our communities.
 
The first step in reforming the process must be to rebuild trust. Unfortunately efforts to rebuild trust through small projects – such as science labs at Eliot-Hine MS – have been delayed multiple times by more mismanagement and excuses. The second step must be to engage the community and I hope to see the DME push DCPS to do a better job of engaging families and communities whether it's about lead, school modernization, principal selection or a variety of other topics where they have failed in recent weeks.

I'll also note that at the State Board's May 18th meeting, Deputy Mayor Niles stated that DCPS “did a series [of events and] gained community input on the CIP criteria and the weightings” utilized in developing the CIP (approximately the 2:20:00 mark of this video). I am awaiting more details on what this process entailed. As we move forward, I will continue to advocate for a transparent process that keeps promises and engages our communities.

Don’t Forget to Vote. Primary Election Day in DC is Tuesday, June 14.

Voting BoothPrimary ballots can be cast for President, At-Large Councilmember, Delegate to Congress, and Shadow Representative.

 
Thank you for your support.  Have a GREAT summer!

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