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DC Public Schools FY15 Budget Hearing Testimony by Khai Booker – CHML

Good Evening to All,

I am Khai Booker, a long-time parent at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan.  I have 2 children one in 4th grade and another in 6th grade. Our school offers a unique choice in education, is richly diverse and hails from every Ward in the city.  Currently we serve from PK-3 through 6th grade.  We are scheduled to expand to 7th grade next year and 8th the year after.  At a time when many families are leaving DCPS at middle school, we believe that with the right investments, we can keep our students and bring others back from charters, private schools and the suburbs.

Public Montessori is at the forefront of a national trend, backed by a 100 year old pedagogy that has been tested around the globe.   Simply put: Montessori seeks to instill a love of learning in EVERY child. The learning environment we have created shapes the child for success academically as well as socially and has been proven effective in research and by our alumni.  Throughout its history, Capitol Hill Montessori has always worked to mirror the goals of DCPS. Our current Student Satisfaction Index is 98%.  We believe this score reflects Montessori’s insistence that students’ voices be heard.  They need to know that the Mayor and DCPS will keep their word and do their part.

According to the lottery results, many other families want to join our middle school. Over 1/3 of our 6th and 7th grade applicants have chosen CHML as one of their top three schools.  This expansion is definitely about more than 7 rising 7th graders and right-sizing a few toilets.  If we don’t build it, they will still come and when the facilities are inadequate, there will be many angry and disappointed families.   More importantly there will be children who have been let down by the very adults upon whom they should be able to depend.

I’d like to make a few points regarding our current Math test scores, as our Reading scores are very strong. Despite the fact that our school has doubled in size in 3yrs, and the fact that Montessori teaches Math differently than most traditional schools, our Math scores are on a steady incline. On the 2012-13 DC CAS, 38% of our students scored Proficient or Advanced in Math and our goal is to increase this number to 46%.  Our scores on this year’s PIA’s give us hope.  We want to be great.  For this reason, we are doing the following:

  •          Our Students use First In Math and LearnZillion at home;
  •          Our Teachers use sample lessons from Achieve the Core;
  •          We have a  DC CAS Resource Specialist assisting all teachers on how to maximize their classroom time leading up to the test;
  •          We host a Saturday Scholars program.

We are part of a strong and committed community but one of our most important partners must be DCPS. What answer would this panel give to the rising 6th and 7th graders who were promised a middle school and those who are transferring to CHML? Would you still tell them that all you can manage are a few age-appropriate toilets? And finally, do you think that they will believe in someone who does not keep their word?  Thank you for your time and attention.

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Testimony of Khai Booker,

Parent at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan

March 20th, 2014

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