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Sarah Livingston Testimony – Education Public Roundtable – DCPS’ Plans for Shaw Junior High School and Banneker Academic High School – November 15, 2018

Greetings Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. I’m Sarah Livingston, a 12 year resident of Shaw and I appreciate the opportunity to comment on this subject.

I support the DC government in keeping its promise of 2008 to rebuild Shaw Junior High School on the same site it was forced to leave.

I do not support relocating Banneker anywhere because its proximity to Howard University is too good to give up. If the rationale is that it must be moved to have more space to serve more students, then that rationale should also apply to School Without Walls which sits on the George Washington University campus and is also a first rate school.

More broadly, as to where these ideas came from, because I don’t think that they “just fell from the sky” as Councilmember Evans said at the November 3rd meeting of the neighborhood about this.

I believe that when the means for democratic governing of DCPS was abolished in 2007, kicking the public out of any decisions such as these, a group of entities moved in to form a private de facto board of education to take our place. They are a minority of the city’s population, who exclude themselves from the general public into enclaves such as the DC Education Fund, RaiseDC and City Bridge Education to determine what “reforms” DCPS will make. Then they pass them on to the mayor for her to announce them with the expectation that the majority will accept them as orders to be obeyed because the mayor, elected by a majority, said so.

That is the most glaring perversion of democracy I’ve ever seen or heard of!

A government that allows a minority to rule over the majority is not a democratic one and it must find a way to reform itself so that the whole public—including the people in these private entities—can once again democratically govern DCPS so that decisions like these are publicly known parts of a democratically agreed to plan for the public school district as a whole.

Sarah Livingston

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