After a cold winter highlighted by numerous scandals plaguing our public school system, there is hope that Spring will bring us better news and a path forward (as well as some Nationals wins).
The Troubling News.
Over the past year, our city’s public school system was roiled by revelations that over 1/3 of last year’s diplomas were issued to students who should not have received them, due to either excessive absences or failing grades. Last spring, the Washington Post reported that the city's claimed decline in suspension rates was based on doctored records. It was only weeks ago our DCPS chancellor Antwon Wilson resigned and Interim Chancellor Amanda Alexander was named; preceded just a few days by the news that the Deputy Mayor of Education resigned for her role in facilitating the improper transfer of the Chancellor’s child. We’ve also seen reports of an investigation into residency fraud at Ellington was being “slow-walked” in order to protect the Mayor’s re-election chances.
In more recent days, our local school budgets largely failed to provide for new investments and the local budget process was, again, plagued by a lack of true engagement with parents and community members. Final staffing plans for our DCPS schools, as of this morning, are still not available even as the City Council moves towards approval. In short, we still have a long way to go to restore trust in our city's schools.
The Path Forward
While it has been a trying time in our city, we are not without hope. The students, here in DC and from across the nation, who led the March For Our Lives protests should serve as inspiration and a reminder of what we can accomplish. I'm especially proud of our Eastern Ramblers who led our city in honoring the victims of gun violence and in urging the City Council to pass gun safety laws.
I volunteer regularly at Eastern High School helping to prepare students for summer internships and other job opportunities, and I spend a lot of time in my children’s two schools and visiting other schools across our city. On each visit, I see engaged students and motivated teachers who want to help us move forward. The issues facing our city and our nation create opportunities for us to have a serious conversation about the future of education. I hope to use this opportunity and I hope you’ll join me in pushing for these conversations.
Over the coming months, as I again seek your support to serve as the Ward 6 Representative on the State Board of Education, I want to hear from you about ways that we can improve accountability, ensure access to the data and research we need to improve education for all, and increase public engagement in our schools. I’ve been honored to serve as your voice on education for these past four years, and I look forward to continuing our journey together.
What questions/concerns do you have? In your mind, what is working/not working? What do you think is most important to reassess? Please send me your thoughts to email@example.com.
Special Education Workshop.
On Monday, April 9, Councilmember Allen and I will join the Office of the Student Advocate to hold a Special Education Workshop from 6:30 - 8:30 pm at the Northeast Library, 330 7th St., NE. This workshop will be a great opportunity to learn about the special education resources available for families, and an opportunity to have a one-on-one mini-session where you can meet with organizations providing special education services and ask specific questions about the needs of your students.
State Report Card.
The Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) is developing a school report card as part of DC's State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Please take this online survey to provide feedback to OSSE on the design of the report card. These report cards are going to be very important in the future of our schools. The online survey will be available through Friday, May 4.
Representatives from OSSE will be joining us at the next CHPSPO meeting on Tuesday, April 17, at 6:30 pm at Miner Elementary School (601 15th St., NE). to review the draft school report card and gather feedback from us.
Master Facilities Plan.
The Deputy Mayor for Education's office is holding a community engagement session on Thursday, April 12, at 6:30 pm at the Center City Public Charter School, 1503 East Capitol St., SE. The purpose of this session is to gather input to understand the community's priorities and thoughts on school facilities planning prior to the release of the Master Facilities Plan 2018.
Cross-Sector Task Force.
The DME has also seeking public comment on the Draft Recommendations of the DC Cross-Sector Collaboration Task Force. The Task Force was charged with developing a report for the Mayor with clear and fair recommendations on how to improve the coherence of public education in DC for parents and increase the collaboration across and among public schools; this initiative aims to improve effectiveness, efficiency, and student outcomes.
Join us at Lincoln Park on Wednesday, May 9, at 7:30 am to celebrate!
School Support Week at Hill’s Kitchen.
From April 7 – 15, stop by Hill's Kitchen, 713 D St., SE, and 10% of your purchase will be donated to the school of your choice.
As always, thank you for your support.