CHPSPO Meeting Tuesday May19

CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, May 19, at 6:30 p.m. at Miner Elementary (601 15th Street, NE) in their library. We will have representatives from the DC Fiscal Policy Institute discuss the attached letter supporting a sales tax increase. They are asking if CHPSPO would be willing to sign on to the letter. According to our by-laws, we will need 50% of our member schools supporting the letter in order for CHPSPO to sign.

We will also have Claudia Lujan from the Deputy Mayor for Education’s office at our meeting discussing the plans for the cross-sector task force.

Because we learned late last week that the Council did not vote to add funds for the modernization of Jefferson or Eliot-Hine to the Capital Improvement Plan, we will be discussing next steps in advocating for facility improvements for our middle schools. Finally, we will be discussing plans for a Ward 6 Community Forum on language immersion programs.

Hope to see you on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells

51915 CHPSPO Agenda.docx



Committee on Education DRAFT Report and Recommendations on the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget for Agencies under Its Purview

DRAFT Committee on Education FY16 Budget Report [PDF] as released May 13, 2015

> Facility Analysis Table [PDF] based on Councilmember Grosso’s proposed factors and measures for prioritizing projects in the FY2016-2021 Capital Improvement Plan

> Recommendations and amendments to be voted on in Committee on Education Budget Markup, May 14, 2015

Bile to school day

Bike to School Day: May 6th!

Bile to school dayOn Wednesday, May 6th, families from Capitol Hill schools will have our annual bike-to-school gathering at Lincoln Park at 7:30am.

Join us! Grab a snack! Guest speakers, performers, and sponsors will round out the Lincoln Park Bike-to-School event:

  • Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen will kick off the festivities
  • The J.O. Wilson Elementary School Cheerleaders and the Tyler Elementary School Step Team will perform
  • Community members and local businesses from the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT), Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), National Park Service (NPS), The Daily Rider, and Friends of DC Dino will participate
  • The Capitol Hill Community Foundation and member schools are generously supporting the event
  • The Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization ( is organizing the event via the efforts of participating schools (Brent ES, Capitol Hill Cluster School, Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, J.O. Wilson ES, Maury ES, Payne ES, School Within a School at Goding, Tyler ES and more, as well as participating private and charter schools).

Register your school HERE to get free stickers from DDOT’s Safe Routes to School program. Registered schools also have the opportunity to compete for the DDOT Golden Bicycle Award. The Golden Bicycle goes to the DC school with the highest percentage of students who arrive by bicycle, scooters, or skateboards on May 6th.

Bike to School Day
Wednesday, May 6th
Lincoln Park (13th & East Capitol Streets, SE)
7:30 AM
Bike trains to schools depart between 8:00 and 8:25 AM


Testimony by Suzanne Wells at the Public School Charter Board Hearing, April 20, 2015

Thank you for the opportunity to testify this evening. My name is Suzanne Wells. I am a resident of the District of Columbia, and I have a daughter who is a fourth grader in the Tyler Elementary Spanish Immersion program.   I have been a strong supporter of my neighborhood public schools, and believe the public schools can and should provide a top-quality education for all children regardless of race or economic status.

I am testifying this evening about my concerns with the lack of planning between the Public Charter School Board and DCPS in making decisions about the opening of new schools. This lack of planning results in an inefficient use of our tax dollars that go towards education, has a detrimental impact on both existing charter schools and the DC public schools, and creates more open seats than this city has students to fill them. As Benjamin Franklin is attributed to saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

The outcome of last year’s Student Assignment process reinforced the principle that families and communities in all parts of the city want the assurance of quality, matter-of-right schools in their neighborhoods. Parents do not want to be at the mercy of lotteries, and they don’t want their children to have long commutes in order to attend quality schools.

Currently there is no overall strategy for how we will meet the educational needs of our children and communities, and how we will spend nearly one fifth of our tax revenue each year to do so. We must have coordinated planning, overseen by an accountable city agency, with active community input, to consider proposed modernizations, expansions, closings, and openings of any school.

For example, this evening the Public Charter School Board is considering the Washington Leadership Academy’s application for a new high school. Our city has made heavy investments in modernizing our neighborhood high schools, investing well over $600 million dollars to renovate high schools across the city, including Anacostia and Ballou High Schools in Ward 8. These renovations were much needed. At Eastern High School, the impact of the renovation in 2010 played an important role in the rebirth of the school where it went from being virtually closed to now being fully enrolled.

The PCSB announced after the first round of the My School DC lottery that there were over 400 open 9th grade seats at public charter school campuses. Similarly, many of our high schools are under enrolled.

In addition, DCPS recently announced a $20 million commitment to its Empowering Males of Color initiative that aims to increase enrollment in Advanced Placement courses, improve graduation rates, increase college acceptance, and prepare students for high-wage, high-growth careers. As part of the initiative DCPS is planning to open a high school designed to support the academic and social-emotional development of male students.

Should our city be opening a new high school when we know we have open seats in both the public charter schools and neighborhood high schools? Should our city be investing in yet another high school facility after substantial dollars have been invested in the neighborhood high schools? Are the goals of the Empowering Males of Color Initiative and Washington Leadership Academy the same?

Similar concerns can be raised about the applications for Legacy Collegiate and Breakthrough Montessori. These applications duplicate programs that already exist in our public school system, create excessive seats, and will require the taxpayers to invest in new facilities.

There must be better planning between DCPS and the Public Charter School Board before any new public charter schools are approved.



Hope everyone has been enjoying their Spring break!

The CHPSPO April meeting will be held on WEDNESDAY, April 22, at School-Within-School (920 F Street, NE). The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m., and we’ll meet in the library.

Scott Pearson and Josh Henderson from the Public Charter School Board will attend our meeting to discuss the PCSB’s process for approving new charter schools.

We’ll also be discussing efforts to support the modernization of Jefferson and Eliot-Hine, along with planning for a meeting with the Deputy Mayor for Education, and Bike-to-School Day.

Hope to see you on Wednesday.

Suzanne Wells

042215 CHPSPO Agenda.docx


Letter to the Editor by CHPSPO founder, Suzanne Wells: Put controls in place regarding the approval of new D.C. public charters

The following letter to the editor, Put controls in place regarding the approval of new D.C. public charters, appeared online in the Washington Post on March 27, 2015.

In the March 22 Local Opinions commentary “Why charters need traditional schools,” the executive director and the former chairman of the D.C. Public Charter School Board claimed, “We believe that the balance we have, with a thriving public charter sector and strong traditional schools, is about right.” It is unclear what they believe should happen now that “the balance . . . is about right.”

It seems clear that the charter board won’t stop approving new schools. It has approved an average of six a year. The District has 112 public charter schools, and three will open this fall. One, Washington Global Middle School, will open about a third of a mile from Jefferson Middle School and offer a substantially similar program. In May, the board will vote on whether to open six more schools in 2016. The balance won’t be “about right” for long.

Parents and public education supporters have been advocating for joint planning by D.C. Public Schools and the D.C. Public Charter School Board before charter schools are opened. Many believe we are spreading our education dollars too thin by opening charter schools that duplicate the services found in existing schools.

It is up to the D.C. Council and the mayor to require comprehensive planning before District taxpayers are asked to fund the opening of public charter schools.

— Suzanne Wells, Washington