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Transparency in Public Schools with Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen on May 21 – 6:30pm at Brent ES

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Please join our May 21 meeting, 6:30pm at Brent Elementary.

Councilmember Charles Allen,  LaJoy Johnson-Law (with Advocates for Justice & Education http://www.aje-dc.org) will discuss the Public School Transparency Amendment Act of 2019 that was introduced by Councilmember Allen.

Come early to hear from CM Allen and stay for and open discussion on how we can achieve much needed transparency across our all our publicly funded schools.

This event is co-hosted by EmpowerEd https://www.weareempowered.org/.

Please register to help us ensure adequate space: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/transparency-in-public-schools-with-ward-6-councilmember-charles-allen-tickets-61506856664

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DC Council: Please Support Transparency, Stability and Success for All Public Schools, All Students

Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization
Please Support Transparency, Stability and Success for
All Public Schools, All Students

The Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization (W6PSPO) is an all-volunteer collaboration of parents, educators and community members helping to strengthen and support public schools in Ward 6. Ward 6 schools serve a diverse student population, including students from across the city. Almost 40% of students attending Ward 6 DCPS schools live in Wards 5, 7, and 8.

We believe the DC Council can play a significant role in demanding and shaping a stronger education system that supports success for every student. We ask the Council to leverage every tool in its toolkit, including adjusting budgets, demanding action by DCPS in oversight, requesting a performance-based budget, amending the School Reform Act, stopping administrative actions that have not included robust public engagement and may negatively affect communities, to implement the following recommendations.

Ensure Transparency for All

Transparency for All Schools and LEAs. Parents and students must know that they are safe and supported. We support the Public School Transparency Act and urge the Council to take swift action to pass it.

Strong Oversight. We need strong oversight over both sectors and our education system as a whole to ensure transparency so that parents and the public are never kept in the dark about proposals, decisions or the impact of decisions on students, educators and school communities.

Stabilize School System and Supports

Invest in School Improvement and Stability. Having access to a predictable, high-quality elementary to high school feeder pattern is the most important predictor of in-boundary participation rates. We continue to see the opening of new schools that don’t take into account impacts on feeder patterns [1], pull students out of their in-boundary schools, and spread our precious education dollars thin. We see regular closures of schools causing great disruption and confusion to families. We need strategies for filling under-enrolled schools, particularly middle and high schools, and meeting the needs for middle schools that take into account what communities want. And, we need to continue to build on specialized programs such as language immersion programs by providing them a feeder path that continues those specialized programs.

Invest in Teacher and Principal Retention. Excessively high teacher and principal turnover creates tremendous instability throughout the school systems. An October 3, 2018, DCSBOE report on Teacher Turnover found that “teacher turnover is higher in DC than in other comparable American cities, including New York, Chicago, and Milwaukee, and higher than the national average. The yearly teacher turnover rate, averaged over three years, across both traditional public and public charter schools is about 25 percent, compared to a national average of approximately 16 percent and an average of 19% among a selection of urban districts. In both sectors, schools with the highest percentages of at-risk students tend to suffer from the highest rates of teacher turnover.” We recommend that the Council take action on the recommendations outlined in the report:

  • Create and maintain a single comprehensive and publicly available source of teacher and principal turnover data
  • Require the state to work with LEAs to ensure richer data collection on teacher and principal characteristics
  • Support a new, sustained research project exploring linkages between teacher and principal turnover and student success

In addition, as Chancellor Ferebee said at our recent W6PSPO meeting “Often people don’t leave jobs, they leave leaders.” We must ensure that the principal evaluation system includes effective processes for feedback from staff, students and parents. And we must be sure we are doing all we can to ensure our teachers and principals have the support they need to help all students succeed.

Develop and Follow a System-wide Master Facilities Plan. The master facilities planning by the Administration lacked authentic engagement and is unworkable as it only looks at planning for half of our students. We need a system-wide structure for planning and decision-making around school facilities for all public schools, both DCPS and Charter, including accurate projections for enrollment and vacant seats, strategies for filling under-enrolled schools, and community-responsive and community-engaged planning for new schools. System-wide plans should include coordination and strategy around opening, closing and changing the programmatic focus of schools.

Community-School Supported DC Research Collaborative: Kick off and fund the DC Research Collaborative, guided by a robust, diverse steering committee not comprised of majority mayoral appointees, that ensures safe and full sharing of data to support the work of the Collaborative, grounded in the needs of students and school improvement from the perspectives of those on the ground.

Ensure Adequate Resources and School Budgets

Educational Technology, including IT Support and Teacher Training: The DCPS technology initiative in the Mayor’s budget focuses on computer hardware and is a good first step. However, schools also need adequate IT support and teacher training to ensure that technology is used effectively. A comprehensive, multi-year plan for DCPS technology, as called for by the DCPS Student Technology Equity Act of 2019, is needed. Additionally, Council should press DCPS and OCTO on how it will support school technology for the remainder of this school year, in advance of online PARCC testing.

Adequate and Equitable Education School Budgets: Each year, costs increase faster than increases to school budgets. As a result, many schools are faced with staffing cuts each year. Schools can’t close achievement gaps and ensure college and career readiness for all with fewer and fewer resources each year. We must provide enough resources so every school has a strong base budget that builds on the previous year’s budget. In addition, at-risk funding must supplement, not supplant, other funding. Solving this challenge will likely involve increasing DCPS’s budget allocation from the Mayor as well as “looking under the hood” in DCPS central office budgeting, and at citywide costs for operating both DCPS and a charter sector. We highly recommend that Council (1) require and fund the DC Auditor to conduct a DCPS and PCSB budget audit and (2) commission a school budget expert to investigate these issues and make recommendations to mitigate unstable school budgeting and continued reductions in school staffs in the years to come.

Adequate Capital Budget for School Facilities: We must ensure that our DCPS schools that have yet to be modernized see a fast track to modernization and that we have robust funding for ongoing maintenance, repair and stabilization needs. We must also ensure safe, healthy, and modern school buildings.

  • Ensure an Effective Partnership between DGS and DCPS: Currently, school buildings are not being maintained efficiently and effectively. School communities too often have to turn to Councilmembers, media and social media to turn work orders into action items. We need significant oversight that will lead to new policy or funding that will ensure DGS and DCPS can work together efficiently and effectively to quick-response action that ensures the safety and health of students and faculty at every school.

  • Ensure Healthy and Safe Schools: Significant attention needs to be paid to ensure agencies are adequately protecting the health and safety of students, educators and staff in schools. We need to ensure transparency and support for lead-free schools and water and keep schools safe from other environmental hazards. We need to ensure transparency and allow the public access to observe implementation of the Water Filtration and Testing Protocol.

Support and Demand Effective Public Engagement

Effective Local School Advisory Teams (LSATs): LSATs are a critical aspect of ensuring school budgets are implemented effectively and are responsive to educator, student, and school community needs. However, LSATs are implemented unevenly and with varying degrees of success across schools. There should be significant research and oversight to understand the current state of LSATs and solutions uncovered to ensure robust engagement of LSATs across all schools.

Agency Support for Authentic Community Engagement: We need a robust conversation about how to improve community engagement in education issues involving the Mayor’s office, DME, DCPS, OSSE and the PCSB. From the lack of engagement in the Chancellor search to lack of regular engagement with communities about how to problem-solve together, DC has generally failed in engaging parents and communities in productive solutions. We believe that authentic engagement can be a critical lever in accelerating progress for students. Oversight is needed to uncover how engagement can be improved and systems put in place to ensure its effective use. Specific examples include major disconnects between agencies and those on the ground (e.g., educators and parents) on issues such as modernization, stabilization, school budgeting, school openings, strengthening feeder systems, school technology needs, etc.


[1] DCPS will open a new selective high school this year, Bard High School Early College and plans to double the capacity of  Banneker Academic High School, and the PCSB is considering 11 new applications this spring that include six stand-alone middle or high schools.

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Support The Master Facilities Plan – Modernize Banneker HS and Shaw MS Campuses on Separate Sites


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2019 
     Contact: Alexandra Simbana
   Save Shaw Middle School Coalition
   202-907-5518
Save Shaw MS Coalition Opposes Mayor Bowser’s Proposal
to Build Two Schools on Shaw Site
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a closed-door meeting yesterday with ANC 6E Commissioner Alex Padro, the Mayor proposed a plan to build both Shaw Middle School and Banneker High School on the Shaw JHS site.

The Save Shaw Middle School Coalition strongly opposes this plan. “This proposal is a profound disservice to both the Shaw Middle School and the Banneker High School communities”, declared Alex Padro, ANC 6E Commissioner.
The Council has consistently voted for the modernization of Banneker at Euclid Street and has supported the rebuilding of Shaw at Shaw.  These decisions are consistent with the educational facility master plans, the approved capital budgets, and the recommendations on feeder patterns and student assignment that then Mayor Gray accepted and the Council approved in 2014 and should not be delayed.

A high school with a middle school like the one designed and built in Ward 4 to include Roosevelt High School and MacFarland Middle School involves about 17.5 acres for a middle and high school with total capacity for 1800 students.

Source_ Google Earth_ both juxtaposed pictures taken at 965m
Another public school campus is the Columbia Heights Education Campus, built in 2006 with a 1400 student capacity for both an application high school and a neighborhood middle school sites on a tight 8 acres. The Columbia Heights Education building is 325,248 gross square feet, a building that is larger than is permitted to be built on the Shaw site. In addition, the Columbia Heights Education Campus schools were constructed and opened at the same time, which was the only way to fit on their small site.

Maggie Koziol, parent at Seaton Elementary DCPS said “Building two schools on this small site would deprive children and community critical access to outdoor and athletic facilities. I don’t understand why Banneker would want to make this move to the Shaw site.  We have no tennis courts, no track, no baseball or softball fields.  There are only 6.1 acres for the Shaw school and recreation areas, but there are 13.1 acres of school and athletic areas at the historic Banneker site.”

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About the Save Shaw Middle School Coalition:
The Save Shaw Middle School Coalition (https://twitter.com/saveshawms) was born in response to the Mayor’s decision in October 2018 to build Banneker High School on the site of the Shaw Junior High which had been promised to the community since the school was closed in 2008. We believe all children – at Banneker and in the schools that feed into Shaw Middle School – were promised modernized schools and deserve a thoughtful long-term solution that meets their needs.
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W6PSPO Meets Tuesday, May 21 @ Brent

Dear Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization members,

W6PSPO will meet on Tuesday, May 21, at 6:30 pm at Brent Elementary School (301 North Carolina Ave., SE). We will be joined by Councilmember Charles Allen and LaJoy Johnson-Law with Advocates for Justice & Education to discuss issues dealing with transparency in public schools, and the Public School Transparency Act that was introduced by Councilmember Allen.

Hope to see you on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/transparency-in-public-schools-with-ward-6-councilmember-charles-allen-tickets-61506856664

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NE Library Garden Concert Series

The Garden Concert Series at the Northeast Library is starting up again this year.  The Garden Concert Series features a local musical group or performer each month during the summer and fall, and is sponsored by the Friends of the Northeast Library. Bring a chair, sit back, and enjoy the concert in the library’s outdoor garden area. (In case of rain, concerts will be moved inside the library.) Mark the following dates on your calendar:

Sunday, May 19, 2 – 3:30 p.m.:  The Gliders

Sunday, June 16, 2 – 3:30 p.m.:  Vim and Vigor

Sunday, July 21, 2 – 3:30 p.m.:  Full Power Blues

Sunday, October 13, 2 – 3:30 p.m.:  Karen Collins and The Backroads Band

The August and September concerts will be announced later. Information on the bands is below:

The Gliders

A long-time fixture within the Capitol Hill neighborhood, The Gliders are an acoustic four-piece band featuring roots music from blues to rockabilly to soul to country. Two of the musicians, Janet and Willy Gilmore, are Capitol Hill residents.. Janet is well known around the Hill as a music educator both from a private piano studio and as the first music teacher at Two Rivers PCS.  Details at https://www.facebook.com/The-Gliders-937557902944149/

Vim and Vigor

Vim & Vigor is an ensemble indie pop-folk band based in Washington, DC. With influences ranging from Amy Winehouse to to Fleetwood Mac, Vim & Vigor produces a sound that is unique and earnest, with rich harmonies and layers of instrumentation. More details are at https://vimandvigormusic.com/

Full Power Blues

Full Power Blues (formerly known as “The D.C. Blues Society Band”) was formed in 2009. The Band has played many yearly Festivals in the Washington Metropolitan area such the Silver Spring Blues Festival, the College Park Blues Festival and most notably the Annual D.C. Blues Society Festival at Federal facility Carter-Baron Amphitheater.  The band was honored in December 2014 to play on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.  Details at https://www.fullpowerblues.com/

Karen Collins and The Backroads Band

One of the Washington area’s top honky tonk bands, The Backroads Band plays classic country music like it was played back then. In no time at all, they’ll have you out on the dance floor doing a boot scootin’ two step or snuggling up close for a buckle polishing slow tune. Their sound is vintage country from the 1940s-1970s plus original roots songs written in that early country style. Details at http://users.rcn.com/fredfeinstein/karen/backroadsband.html

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“Decoding Dyslexia DC” Kick Off Meeting

When: Sunday, May 19, 2019 from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM (EDT)
Where: Southeast Neighborhood Library ,403 7th Street Southeast 
RSVP https://www.eventbrite.com/e/decoding-dyslexia-dc-kick-off-meeting-tickets-60384476595?fbclid=IwAR1m2ZakMHbw0jWA3K1UWo6YMq4W4eMKBElZBn2q1yO1a-TGIzRJIX2_iyY

Does your child struggle with reading, writing, or spelling? Are you a teacher and want to know more about specific learning disability (dyslexia), other reasons why far too many students have trouble learning to read, and what can be done about it? Join us on Sunday, May 19th at Southeast Library (near Eastern Market) at 2 PM to meet concerned parents of struggling readers and like-minded educators. Learn why so many DC school children read below grade level, what resources are available, and how Decoding Dyslexia DC is advocating for changes in education policy.

The topic of this meeting will be: Understanding Dyslexia and Essential Elements of an Effective Intervention.
Laurie Moloney, Certified Academic Language Therapist and President of the DC Capital Area Branch of the International DyslexiaAssociation, will give a brief talk on the reading crisis and how to solve it.

Decoding Dyslexia DC Flier with Registration Info

About Decoding Dyslexia DC:

Decoding Dyslexia – DC  is a grassroots movement driven by DC families concerned about the limited access to educational interventions for students with dyslexia and other reading difficulties within our schools. We aim to raise awareness and empower families to support their children. We also want to inform policy-makers on best practices for screening, identifying, remediating, and supporting students with dyslexia and reading difficulties in DC.

For more information visit our website: www.DecodingDyslexiaDC.org

All are welcome!