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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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Bike to School Day is May 8, 2019 @ Lincoln Park – Save the Date!

BTSD_2inch_Color

How to plan a fantastic party on wheels with all your school friends….

  • Step 1: Mark your Calendar –> May 8, 7:30-8:15 AM @ Lincoln Park.
  • Step 2: Register your school‘s event (or your participation in the Lincoln Park event)!!
  • Step 3: Tell all your friends about Steps 1 and 2!
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W6PSPO Meeting Notes – March 19, 2019

March 19, 2019
Payne Elementary School, 1445 C Street, SE, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

  1. At-Risk Funding Overview – Betsy Wolf, Amidon-Bowen parent [See presentation]
  • Inequity in school funding in DCPS
    • DCPS funds look like they are equitably allocated across schools in that schools serving greater % at-risk get more funds. But schools serving greater % at-risk also serve more students with IEPs. Taking out special education funding, no longer see equitable funding across schools in DCPS.
    • Why not? Where is at-risk money going? It’s going to cover core general and special education positions in many cases. At-risk money is not truly supplementing the base funding.
  • Achievement gaps
    • DC has a large achievement gap because it has large income inequality. Nationwide, achievement gaps are the highest in places with the greatest income inequality.
  • Interventions to target achievement gaps
    • To target the achievement gap, you need to supplement instruction for the lowest performing students. Small-group instruction and tutoring have been shown to be the most impactful interventions in education research. But schools don’t have enough extra money to fund positions like reading specialists across the board.
  1. Open discussion with Chancellor Ferebee
  • Budget: trying to address decline in enrollment w/in schools in East DC vs
    https://twitter.com/VJablow/status/1108737079670964224

    Community response to Chancellor Ferebee’s characterization of FY20 budget

    overcrowding in West DC 

  • Pointed to Council legislation re: stabilization to support schools in enrollment decline (cap at 5% of resources)
  • Confusion remains around DCPS budget/follow the $?
    • Start at per pupil allocation, then add $
    • Comprehensive staffing model adds to ‘blur’
  • Re: recommended interventions to target achievement gaps (like small group/reading specialist):
    • School based decision today; do we create a model that is mandatory
    • Influence of great teachers/school leaders is not necc equitable
    • Believes in autonomy, but also in sharing with schools research-based strategies to inform their staffing and budgeting decisions.
  • Cross-sector planning (W6PSPO → community members; CF: Chancellor Ferebee)
    • W6PSPO: Proliferation of charters and impact on overall resources. CF: Approaching coordination carefully;
    • W6PSPO: Need planning and stability w/ policy around it; Need Chancellor to be ‘cheerleader’ for DCPS
  • Inequity w/in schools
    • W6PSPO: Resources/visibility w/in schools are focused on early childhood families (engagement is higher from early childhood families), but schools are being judged by test scores at 4/5th grades
  • Teacher Turnover
    • W6PSPO: When classrooms are without a teacher for extended period of time, is there an accountability model parents can follow up with beyond the principal? (Principals are not always responsive nor give priority to staffing gaps). CF: Instructional superintendents are first point of contact.
  • School Leadership:
    • W6PSPO:What can the DCPS do to strengthen teacher/principal retention? CF: Exploring multi-year principal contract (today, principal contracts are renewed -or not- annually);  Committed to engaging w/ WTU on IMPACT; Solve for great leadership
    • W6PSPO: Principals are able to use IMPACT to evaluate and retaliate against teachers; teachers don’t have a meaningful way to give feedback on principals. CF: DCPS tracks data about whether teachers return. Understand that there are independent evaluators under IMPACT. W6PSPO: Correction – WTU did not want evaluators who didn’t know them, the school community and requested peer evaluators. Suggest DCPS pursue meaningful feedback from teachers when evaluating principal’s performance;
  • Modernizations/Community Engagement:
    • W6PSPO: Modernization/PACE act – suggestion to engage parents who have gone through SIT process to get a view ‘under the hood’ how policy plays out in practice.
    • W6PSPO: What can we hold DCPS accountable for vis a vis lead in drinking water? CF: DGS/DCPS committed to communicating at each step of the process.
    • W6PSPO:  DCPS central office staff need to spend more time in the schools, understand what happens on the ground
  1. Open discussion with Jessica Sutter, SBOE W6
  • State board voting on priorities Weds, March 20
    • STAR report/dc school report card
    • OSSE survey on report cards: 3 year cycle for changes, except High school growth model
    • High school graduation requirements/Credit recovery
    • Committees
      • Teacher/leader turnover
        • Teacher/leader working group 
      • Research 
      • Social studies 
      • Rich curriculum 
      • UPDATE: State Board members will meet monthly in working groups related to school visits (first Tuesday), teacher retention (third Friday), rich curriculum (fourth Monday), research (fourth Monday), and social studies (fourth Monday). These working groups will be an opportunity for members to discuss key issue and focus areas that the State Board has identified as priorities for 2019. The discussions will provide members the opportunity to share thoughts, recommendations, and next steps for the SBOE. Thank you! ~ Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist, SBOE
  • Ward 6 DCSBOE Rep Proposed Priorities (JS = Jessica Sutter; W6PSPO → Community members)
    • OSSE STAR Rating Feedback: JS: Will use OSSE Survey and SBOE surveys as starting point for community level discussions. How best to do the OSSE/STAR feedback for Ward 6?  W6PSPO: Best at school level; better opportunity for collecting feedback, esp from teachers. Focus group model.
    • Middle/HS paths: Ward 6 families have expressed frustration around middle and high school options. (in particular lack of strategy around dual language continuation) Middle and high schools (mostly parents from dual language programs have reached out and are dissatisfied w/ feeder options). Looking at options for bringing solutions for Tyler and Stokes communities. W6PSPO: Should start conversation with DCPS; feeders patterns would be affected.
    • Advocacy Coordination Across Sectors: JS: should W6PSPO broaden advocacy efforts to also include charters? W6PSPO: overall, priorities are not necessarily always aligned. Currently, W6PSPO has hands full w/stabilizing feeder patterns, DCPS budget, technology, etc. W6PSPO always open to coordinating with charter schools when it makes sense on specific issues common to all schools.  Some common areas might include standardizing grades (like grade middle schools start, e.g., 5th for charters, 6th for DCPS; SpEd student imbalance (neighborhood schools and open enrollment schools bear the brunt of SpEd-heavy communities, while charter and selective DCPS schools have low SpEd population).

4. Wilson Building Visits – Danica Petroshius –

  •  Friday, March 23 10AM-4PM. Danica to follow up via email to W6PSPO


5. CHPSPO’s new name →
W6PSPO 

 

Next CHPSPO Meeting: April 23, 2019 (Note:  4th Thursday due to spring break)

Upcoming Events

Budget Oversight Hearings – Register to testify here–> http://bit.do/educationhearings

  • March 27      State Board of Education, Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education, and the Office of the Student Advocate
  • March 29      DCPS (Public Witnesses Only)
  • April 4          Public Charter School Board
  • April 9          Office of the State Superintendent of Education
  • April 25        Deputy Mayor for Education

March 25      Capitol Hill Community Foundation Spring Grants deadline

March 29      Ferebee Friday, Pretzel Bakery, 8 – 9:30 am

Visit W6PSPO on the web at http://chpspo.org

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CHPSPO Meets Tuesday, March 19 @ Payne ES

CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, March 19, at 6:30 pm at Payne Elementary School (1445 C St., SE).  Chancellor Ferebee and W6 SBOE representative Jessica Sutter will join us at our meeting.  We’ll also be deciding on CHPSPO’s new name!  I hope you can join us.

Suzanne Wells

————————

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization

March 19, 2019

Payne Elementary School

1445 C Street, SE

6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Mission Statement – To promote cooperation among the parent organizations of the public schools on Capitol Hill in order to improve the education received by all children attending our schools.

6:30 – 6:40 Welcome and Introductions

6:40 – 6:50 At-Risk Funding Overview – Betsy Wolf, Amidon-Bowen parent

6:50 – 7:30 Open discussion with Chancellor Ferebee

7:30 – 7:45 Open discussion with Jessica Sutter, SBOE W6

7:45 – 7:50 Wilson Building Visits – Danica Petroshius

7:50 – 8:00 CHPSPO’s new name

Next CHPSPO Meeting: April 23, 2019 (Note: 4th Thursday due to spring break)

Upcoming Events

Budget Oversight Hearings

March 27 State Board of Education, Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education, and the Office of the Student Advocate

March 29 DCPS (Public Witnesses Only)

April 4 Public Charter School Board

April 9 Office of the State Superintendent of Education

April 25 Deputy Mayor for Education

March 25 Capitol Hill Community Foundation Spring Grants deadline

March 29 Ferebee Friday, Pretzel Bakery, 8 – 9:30 am

Visit CHPSPO on the web at http://chpspo.org

Brittany Wade Testimony – Roundtable on Chancellor of DCPS Dr Ferebee Confirmation – February 12, 2019

Committee on Whole and Education

Public Roundtable on the Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools

Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee Confirmation Resolution of 2019

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Good afternoon Chairman Mendelson, Chairman Grosso, and other respective council members of the committee. My name is Brittany Wade a resident of ward 7 and a very proud mother of five children that attend Stuart Hobson middle school, Ludlow-Taylor and Smothers Elementary in wards 6 and 7.

I serve with Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (P.A.V.E) on the ward 7 PLE board. I am excited to discuss the Chancellors confirmation because I can honestly say I have done my part to help in the hiring process. Or at less talk to the ones responsible for making the decision.

My vision for DCPS is simple. I want for every child no matter which neighborhood they reside in to receive the same education as all DCPS children.

As I stated before I am a ward 7 resident and only one of my children attends our neighborhood school. Since the school year has started it has been like the tale of two cities for my family. There is a great disparity between the PTO funds generated at one school versus the other. The PTO at one school is helping with field trips and activities for the children throughout the year. I want my children to attend their neighborhood schools but it’s just not in my family’s best interest to do that when I know the school is not living up to its potential because of the funding disparity.

I really hope the chancellor will work with the Mayor as well as the council to insure budget transparency and evenly distributed resources in all 8 wards of the city. Allowing families to make the most informed decisions about the decision to enroll their children at a particular school, and how to better hold the school accountable for ensuring the funding is managed appropriately.

I also hope the chancellor will pay close attention to schools in ward 7/8 to help bring more opportunities and resources needed to help our neighborhood schools perform better. More dual language programs, vocational programs that will help prepare our young people to not just go to college and the military, but that will teach them skills to create businesses and help others in their community.

Being the Chancellor of Washington, DC is a huge task that I am sure Dr. Ferebee has now realized. I just hope that he continues to understand DC’s ever changing landscape but also keeps our children’s needs at the for front of his mind.

Thank the committee on the Education and committee of the Whole for allowing me to testify and share what I want to see for our kids and our city.

 

 

 

Katy Thomas Testimony – DCPS Performance Oversight Hearing – February 26, 2019

WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF KATY THOMAS

kazt1978 [at] gmail [dot] com

SUBMITTED TO THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION & COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

FOR THE PUBLIC HEARING ON

PERFORMANCE OVERSIGHT HEARING OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS

FEBRUARY 26, 2019

Chairman Mendelson, Chairman Grosso, Councilmember Allen and committee members, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am the mom of two current Miner ES students (1st grade and PK4) and a rising PK3 student. I serve as the PTO’s Vice President and Community Engagement Committee chairperson.  

OUTDOOR RENOVATION

In May 2018, Councilmember Allen announced he had secured $3 million in FY2019 funding for new playgrounds at Miner and Tyler elementary schools in Ward 6.  The Miner community was thrilled, as making improvements to our outdoor campus had been a top priority. When the announcement was made public, we were in the midst of working closely with DCPS to plan for improvements to our outdated ECE playground over the summer months.  We thought having such great advance notice and already established contacts with the right people at DCPS would give us a leg up in being able to thoughtfully plan and design our new $1.5 million outdoor renovation.

Our school community came together in early September for an initial meeting with DCPS to learn the timeline, expectations and process for a project of this scope.  Our students would be engaged in helping determine playground equipment while parents, teachers, staff and broader community members would participate in PTO-driven feedback sessions.  Meanwhile, DCPS would begin the process of securing a designer in October so that a contractor could be hired in December, equipment ordered by January and the project finished in time for the launch of SY19-20.  After hearing nothing from DCPS through October and most of November, and connecting with a parent leader at Tyler, who had also heard nothing in terms of an update/progress on their project, I reached out to DCPS in late November to find out what was going on and to express concerns about heading down a path of delays, rushed planning and little-to-no engagement with the school community in the process.

In response to my outreach, I was informed a decision had been made to hire a landscape architect vs a design+build contractor in order to ensure the landscape architect would be an advocate for the project throughout construction rather than merely a subcontractor of the general contractor.  We scheduled an in-person meeting for December 12; during that meeting both DCPS and DGS staff were in attendance to announce a RFP had just been released for landscape architects for both Miner and Tyler as a “bundle” project and to expect construction to start in June with final delivery by October 2019. A contract would be awarded to a landscape architect for the projects in early January 2019 and our school community would meet with them in January to review their initial plan, which would be based upon all the feedback our students, families and staff had submitted.

You can imagine my surprise when our principal announced at the February 2019 PTO meeting that no landscape architect had been hired and essentially zero progress had been made on the project.  I again reached out to DCPS who stated they and DGS were unable to complete the procurement process of a landscape architect in a timely manner, so had instead decided to pursue a design+build contractor.  I am unable to see the logic in switching gears at this point in the process and essentially have had confirmed that this process will be rushed, with little planning and engagement with the school community.  

The lack of communication, lack of engagement and lack of a consistent process is frustrating to say the least.  When the FY2019 began in October, our school community felt like we were ahead of the curve, ready to work collaboratively with DCPS/DGS to create a great product our students and be something our community could feel proud of and excited about.  Instead we are reeling in the dark and extraordinarily frustrated by the lack of communication, engagement, progress and planning to date. Now as we approach the six month mark since our initial planning session and there has been no visible progress made on our project, I urge the committee to hold DCPS/DGS accountable.  When CM Allen fought to get this funding in the FY19 budget, I can’t imagine his expectation was there would be approximately zero progress made as of February 26, 2019.

TECHNOLOGY

Miner’s PTO is a proud participant of the Digital Equity in DC Education coalition of parents, teachers and public education advocates from all Wards.  The group has been advocating for digital equity and technology reflective of the 21st century. The coalition sent to Mayor Bowser on January 10, 2019 outlining the failure of the city in preparing our children for the jobs of the future.  Specifically, the letter outlined the following urgent issues:

  1. Include dedicated and sufficient funding in the FY2020 DCPS budget to meet school technology needs equitably across the city;
  2. Direct DCPS to release a comprehensive, multi-year technology plan to define and provide adequate technology to every school, as recommended by the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor (ODCA) in 2017; and
  3. Ensure the capacity to maintain functional, up-to-date technology equitably across all schools.

When DCPS finally released its initial allocations for the FY20 budget last week, they proudly announced a $4.6 million investment for student laptops.  I’m not one to kick a gift horse in the mouth, so was glad to see this investment being made for students and the public recognition that DCPS is failing its students with respect to providing the tools necessary to learn. However, it’s a small step in the marathon we’re facing to ensure our students are being set up for success vs failure in today’s digital world.  To date, DCPS has released no Technology Roadmap, has no plan or resources to ensure adequate support for existing and new devices to be maintained, remains silent on all instructional technology needs and continues to avoid working in tandem with OCTO to resolve the current pitiful strategy of school-level tech support.

I feel like a broken record, having testified on this specific issue a number of times before this audience and to DCPS. In the fall of 2017, the ODCA released a budgeting report, Budgeting and Staffing at Eight DCPS Elementary Schools. Miner was one of the eight schools reviewed. In response to the Auditor’s report, then-Chancellor Wilson sent a letter to Auditor Patterson stating, “DCPS agrees with recommendation #4. Prior to the issuance of this draft audit report, DCPS’ Office of Information Technology began work to develop a comprehensive Technology Roadmap. Our roadmap includes five key areas: devices, infrastructure services, shared technology platforms, technology proficiency and data reporting. These core focus areas will provide mass enhancements in all areas of concern as detailed in the report. To date, the initial draft of our Technology Roadmap has been shared internally within DCPS’ central administration to obtain feedback from internal stakeholders. Additional feedback will be sought from school-based leaders, teachers, students, parents and members of the community. Upon completion and approval of the Technology Roadmap, the associated funding requests will be presented during the FY19 budget process.

According to the Auditor’s office, in late November 2018, after more than a year had passed since Chancellor Wilson stated a plan was already drafted and being circulated internally, DCPS decided it needs “more focused expertise to build a comprehensive technology roadmap spanning over the next several years and would be hiring a new Chief of Data and Strategy to lead the effort.” That new Chief was set to start December 10, 2018 and according to DCPS would be better able to move closer to defining the technology road map.

Admittedly, I am not familiar with the DCPS flow chart, but if the previous Chancellor tasked the Office of Information Technology to draft a comprehensive roadmap in 2017, how does the system decide a year later, in the absence of a permanent leader, that a new Chief has to be hired to redo this work?  Where is the 2017 initial plan? Why is DCPS hiring more central office staff to do a job already initiated?

Specific requests for the Education Committee and COW:

  1. Hold DCPS accountable to release a Technology Roadmap, which former Chancellor Wilson stated was drafted in 2017, share a timeline for engagement with school-based leaders, teachers, students, parents and members of the community and indicate how long students and schools will have to wait before the overwhelming need for technology is addressed.
  2. Ask DCPS to release details on its current 1:1 proposal. Released information should include a detailed breakdown of the components of their tech budget initiative and a funding profile showing the total cost over 3-5 years.
  3. Fully fund the new proposal put forth by DCPS for FY20 with the addition of resources fo adequate tech support and instructional investments.
  4. Require DCSP and OCTO to willfully collaborate on how to better support technology in schools.  This may require a modification to the existing MOU between the agencies and a full restructuring of how tech support is currently deployed.

GARDEN INSTRUCTION + HEALTHY FOOD

I grew up on a farm in northwestern Minnesota and assumed most kids had a couple deep freezers in their garage filled with homegrown meats, tended a huge garden all summer and spent time freezing and canning fruits & vegetables to get through the long winters.  That bubble burst as I got older and as a college student had to learn how to buy food at a grocery store. As a parent raising kids in an urban environment, who’s kids often think milk comes from the store, apples come sliced in a sealed bag and the only carrot that exists is considered a “baby”, I find it disturbing how little we are doing to expose today’s kids to where their food comes from, how to grow it or empower them to make healthy choices.  A handful of schools in D.C. have been lucky to engage in amazing programs like FoodPrints or FoodCorps to help increase students knowledge on fresh fruits and vegetables, get kids cooking in the kitchen so they can figure out that real food is cooked from scratch, not warmed up from a package and utilize real-world applications of math, science, reading, writing, social studies, etc.

Every parent and child that I know who has FoodPrints/FoodCorps programming at their school rave about how amazing it is – kids come home asking for ABC (apple-beet-carrot) salad, bursting with pride when one of the carrot seeds they planted starts popping up through the soil or tastes kale for the first time and realizes its not poison!   Imagine the academic gains that could be achieved if every child was exposed to and provided real food, cooked from scratch and empowered to build skills and celebrate healthy food choices. I urge committee members to go to a DCPS school with FoodPrints or FoodCorps and observe the excitement, growth and development students have toward healthy food choices.   

Once you’ve seen the magic happening, I hope you will join the many parents, principals, teachers, advocates and kids who celebrate this type of instruction and life skill building and make it a right, not a privilege to have a FoodPrints/FoodCorps type of program at each school. Miner is not one of the lucky schools able to bring in a FoodPrints/FoodCorp program to date, but I intend to continue striving toward increasing students exposure to our school garden, finding outside partners who actively help teachers get out of the classroom to utilize real-world academic applications and build awareness among our school community on the significant positive impacts of healthy food choices.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today, I’m happy to answer any questions.