The following testimony was delivered by Cathy Reilly of S.H.A.P.P.E. on March 16, 2015 at the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget for Public Schools in the District of Columbia organized by the Executive Office of the Mayor.
Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators
Thank you for this opportunity to testify. The Senior High Alliance has been advocating for high school students for the last 17 years.
By most reports the 2016 budgets for the DCPS high schools will boost elective choices and opportunities for these young people. It has the potential to match the capital investment the city has made in the DCPS High schools with a program investment. If this is maintained it will make a huge difference in our ability to provide the families of Washington DC with something they overwhelmingly asked for – a strong DCPS system of feeder schools of right in every ward of the city. Thank you. I am looking forward to seeing the budgets and learning what schools are able to do with the funds.
The work in realizing the vision of a predictable and strong set of schools in each of the 9 feeder patterns is not yet done however. The crucial elements remaining are:
- Meeting the demand for the pre-school seats by expanding and providing by right access in wards of the city serving at risk and title one students. This will strengthen the whole feeder pattern.
- While the middle grades bump in funding has helped, most of the K-8 middle grades programs cannot compete with a school with the options Alice Deal offers. We need the 4 middle schools recommended in the Student Assignment recommendations to provide a seamless route. One in Ward 7, two in Ward 4 and one to feed into Cardozo.
- Required planning with the charter sector to support the vision endorsed after an expansive public engagement process as part of the Student Assignment process. A core system of high quality neighborhood schools of right complemented by a set of high quality public school options. We cannot do this with an unlimited number of schools. We have to have a planning process across the sectors. One that looks at location and need. Need is not defined by where there are schools that have or do not have students scoring proficient. We can do better than a pure market model in sustaining our public infrastructure and supporting our public institutions.
We would like to also work with you Chancellor Henderson and with Dr. Simmons on universal and institutional support for all of young people who are struggling. I think the launching of a “Black Girls Matter” conference and some of the feedback from some students east of the river regarding the proposed small YMOC high school should have a space to really be heard and considered. We would like to work with you on making that happen.
We welcome the Burdick school coming back into DCPS and hope that there will be work on a model that makes it easy for schools under many different circumstances to be part of DCPS.