Sandra Moscoso Testimony – Deputy Mayor for Education Budget Oversight Hearing – March 29, 2019

Testimony of Sandra Moscoso 

Committee of the Whole and Education’s Budget Oversight hearing of the Deputy Mayor for Education

April 25, 2019

Good morning Chairmen and Councilmembers. I am Sandra Moscoso, a parent of students enrolled in Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, and School Without Walls and formerly, BASIS DC.

I am also secretary of the Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization.

In preparation for this testimony, I wanted to understand the DME’s priorities.

I couldn’t find any statement of priorities on the DME website. The best I could do are four bullets from a tweet by the DC State Board of Education from it’s March 6, 2019 meeting, where Mr. Kihn was a guest. Because the state board complies with the open meetings act, I could watch a partial recording of the meeting on periscope (though it did not include DME Kihn’s opening remarks). Anyway, the priorities are:

  • Early childhood
  • Mental Health
  • Human capital
  • Post-secondary career readiness

All worthwhile priorities and presumably they are applicable to all publicly funded schools. I want to be able to support the DME in meeting these, so I put on my project manager hat and thought about what it might take to get to success.

First and foremost, in order to assess the key issues around each priority, the DME will need data from schools and LEAs. Then, in order to articulate the issues around each priority, the DME will need to communicate that data to families and educators in a way that we can provide input and ideas into goals. When families and front-line educators are engaged in a way that is transparent, it’s much more likely that we will understand priorities and support the work. Once plans are under implementation, DME will need to access data to monitor progress against targets and communicate with families and to Council on how it’s going. Easy, right?

Well, along the way, the DME may discover issues that can impact priorities, like for example, lead in school facilities, which can have grave impact on early childhood development. The DME and the public need schools and LEAs to share how our students are kept safe from environmental hazards. If the data isn’t regularly published, this data should be subject to FOIA.

All of the above to say that success with any initiative will require transparency from all schools and LEAs, as well as from the Deputy Mayor of Education, DC Public Schools, DC Public Charter School Board, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

Parents and students must know that they are safe and supported. There are two school transparency acts, both with worthwhile elements, in particular FOIA compliance for all schools. We urge DME to support transparency across all schools (and of course, we ask Council to do so as well).

Thank you for your time.

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