CHPSPO Meets Wednesday, July 19 at Jefferson Academy

Dear Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization Members,

CHPSPO will meet on Wednesday, July 19, at 6:30 pm at Jefferson Academy (801 7th St., SW). At our meeting, Bruce DarConte with the Near Southeast Community Partners will be discussing the activities they’ve undertaken for their Feed the Feeder effort, and Brian Doyle with the Ward 3 Wilson Feeder Education Network will discuss the Wilson Feeder Pattern Community Working Group that DCPS recently formed to discuss the persistence of crowding issues in the Wilson High School feeder pattern. I hope you will be able to join us for these discussions.

Please let me know if your school has recently held PTA/PTO elections, and if there are any changes to your PTA/PTO president and/or CHPSPO representatives.

Hope to see you on Wednesday.

Suzanne Wells

071917 CHPSPO Agenda.docx

CHPSPO School Year 2017 2018 Representatives-2.docx


SBOE Announces #ESSA Task Force Application

Dear Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization members,

Please share with your school communities information about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Advisory Task Force the DC State Board of Education is forming. This is an important Task Force that will help create a citywide school report card, and look at the possibility of including assessments beyond reading and math in the DC accountability plan as well as school climate information. Applications to serve on the Task Force are due by midnight on July 17.

Suzanne Wells

On Monday, July 10, 2017 1:16 PM, DC State Board of Education <> wrote:

Moves to Include Historically Marginalized Voices

For Immediate Release


CHPSPO Meeting Notes – June 20, 2017

Payne Elementary School, 1445 C Street, SE

June 20, 20176:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.


SBOE Update – Joe Weedon, Ward 6 SBOE Representative

  1. Additional funding allocated by DC Council

When council added additional funding to schools, came w/ a directive to put money into local schools. Chancellor committed that $$ would go to schools and would reinstitute cuts. How to ensure this will happen?

  • Budget changes should be announced via LSATs
  • Council called for DCPS to issue report by September 30

2. ESSA Advisory Task Force,

  • Chair of task force is Lanette Woodruff – Ward 4
  • ESSA over-emphasized ELA, Math; did not emphasize public process going forward for outstanding items
  • Task force to work w/ OSSE on those outstanding items: science assessment, school climate pilot, develop system to measure growth in high schools. These outstanding ESSA elements to be sorted out while school report card (likely to come out at year 2 of new state rankings) is under development. The items should align w/ what is used for accountability;
  • Represents all Ed entities: DCPS, DC PCS, OSSE Superintendent, individual schools, teachers, Ward Ed councils, business leaders and policy experts, community activists, 25 voting members who will work to approve recommendations; 2-3 seats reserved for parents
  • Over course of next year – monthly meetings for different topics related to the outstanding elements. Developing schedule and identifying speakers, experts, etc.
  • Changes for ESSA need to come from OSSE (w/ SBOE vote)
  • Application for task force participation will going up in next week or so on

3.  High School Graduation Task Force;

  • Open application for high school graduation task force; looking at HS graduation requirements and identifying ways to be more flexible to meet student needs
  • DC has some of highest requirements in nation for HS grad; very prescriptive – hoping for more flexibility:
    • Ideas: computer coding could count as world language and science credit
    • How to better prepare students for college or career
      • Align skills w/ growth in local economy: what are key elements we need to build into curriculum?
    • Board is willing to listen and bring in a wide range of stakeholders


Does Ward 6 need an education strategic plan?

  • Ward 3 working on overcrowding issues; unclear how the formal structure w/ DCPS was initiated
  • Ward 7 – Opposite issue of Ward 3, as many kids go to Ward 6 (and other wards) schools
    • Recently sent letter to DME, PCSB, DCPS to engage w/ them re: charter schools. Have abundance of charters, making them defacto neighborhood schools. DC Prep and KIPP in last few months, have asked for enrollment increases, adding 4000 new seats (2 elementary schools (ES), 1 middle school (MS), 1 high school (HS)
      • Public Charter School Board recently denied DC Prep’s ES
      • KIPP approved for HS, and withdrew ES and MS applications
  • Ward 6
    • Maury overenrolled and about to be renovated while Miner is under-enrolled
    • Eliot-Hine and Jefferson under-enrolled
    • Overcrowding at PreK3-PreK4; many go to Appletree as a result
    • Eastern enrollment has dropped from 1066 to <900 projected for next year.
    • Enough big picture issues facing Ward 6 that warrants planning discussion
    • Claudia Lujan just selected to be director of strategic planning for DCPS – has history with Ward 6 in willingness to listen
    • How are additional Prek-3/PreK-4 classrooms granted?
      • Ward 3 is focused on facilities
      • Experience w/ facilities planning w/ DCPS shows inputs are:
        • Expected retention?
          • DCPS’ numbers are artificially low and dated
        • Facilities meet requirements?
      • Discussion re: needs
        • Need for predictability and stability around enrollment and budgets
        • Need alignment in the feeder pattern from elementary to middle to high school, e.g., begin preparing students from beginning in “Eastern Way”
        • We say we have a system of schools, but not preparing them for what’s next
        • DCPS reluctance is re: we have to teach the students who are here today – schools need vision around what they want to be excellent at
        • IB à MYP à pulls from ES, but need to be articulated in that way
        • How to convince DCPS to sell the schools and the community of schools?
        • Need for schools to talk; parents should be able to match a school w/ children’s needs and interests; schools should coordinate around strengths, weaknesses, resources; good to keep children within the system
        • Need to be better about branding
        • Invite representative from Ward 3 Education Council to future CHPSPO meeting to discuss the working group on overcrowding


Chancellor’s Parent Cabinet

  • application period through June 30
  • Encourage Ward 6 parents to apply
  • A critical responsibility of cabinet members is to disseminate discussions w/ community and to engage community in providing input into issues raised w/in cabinet


CHPSPO Officer Positions Elections (Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Walk-to-School Coordinator, Bike-to-School Coordinator) – election in September 19, 2017 meeting.

Next CHPSPO Meeting: July 18, 2017


Upcoming Events

Twitter Town Hall with Chancellor Wilson

Thursday, June 22, 3:30 – 4:30 pm, #AskChantwan


Cross Sector Collaboration Task Force

Tuesday, June 27, EducationCounsel (101 Constitution Ave, NW, Suite 900)


Chancellor’s Parent Cabinet

 Application can be found online at Applications are due by 11:59 on June 30.


Capitol Hill Independence Day Parade

Visit CHPSPO on the web at



CHPSPO Meets Tuesday, June 20, at Payne – (come early for interview with Japanese newspaper)

The Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization will meet on Tuesday, June 20, at 6:30 pm at Payne Elementary (1445 C Street, SE). We will be joined by Joe Weedon, the Ward 6 State Board of Education (SBOE) representative, who will be discussing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Advisory Task Force that is being formed by the SBOE.

We’ll also be discussion the Chancellor’s Parent Cabinet being formed (see below), whether Ward 6 should be engaging with DCPS to discuss issues facing our ward (overcrowding, need for more PK3 and PK4 programs, middle schools, etc.), and upcoming CHPSPO elections.

NOTE: Tomoko Ashizuka, a correspondent for Nikkei Newspapers of Japan, is writing about school choice program and education policy. She is looking to interview parents about the role of parent engagement. If you are interested in participating, please arrive early (6PM) to meet Tomoko.

Hope to see you on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells


CHPSPO Meeting Tuesday, May 16, at Maury

CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, May 16, at 6:30 pm at Maury Elementary. We will be joined by Claudia Lujan who will be discussing the DCPS Reign: Empowering Young Women as Leaders Initiative. We will also discuss the ESSA Advisory Task Force the State Board of Education is forming, and discuss holding elections to fill officer positions for CHPSPO.

Please continue to encourage your school communities to sign the Petition to the DC Council supporting a 3.5% increase in the uniform per student funding formula. It is important to sign the petition soon as the Council will be voting on the budget the end of May. Currently, there are 821 signatures on the petition. Here is the link to the Petition — Also, here is a Washington Post op-ed about the need for the budget increase —

Hope to see you on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells

051617 CHPSPO Agenda.docx


Testimony of Sarah Livingston – Committee on Education Public Charter School Board Budget Hearing – May 4, 2017

I’m Sarah Livingston, one of DC’s voting, taxpaying citizens from Ward 6.

This past Saturday, I saw a film called “A Backpack Full of Cash” that documents some of the ways that public education in our country is being privatized including by charter schools. It does a great job of showing, in Philadelphia for example, how the more a city spends for charter schools the less it has for the public schools and the dire consequences that follow.

So far we haven’t had that problem in DC because we’ve had enough money to maintain the funding for DCPS while also paying for a growing number of charter schools. There are however two things in the FY 18 budget that deeply concern me.

First, the budget proposes a change in the charter school expenditure of 11.4% over FY 17 while the change for DCPS is 2.7%. That is a substantial difference amounting to $82.8 million of the $105 million increase for education going to charter schools. The lack of balance there is very concerning.

In addition, we know that in some cases, DCPS has used its at-risk funds for things that are supposed to be covered by the per pupil funds. Is that an indication that over the past three years, DCPS has already been in a position of having to rob Peter to pay Paul? Is the 1.5% increase in the per pupil level rather than the 2.2 % needed to cover inflation related to the 2.2 % increase in the charter school facilities allotment?

My second concern comes from looking at what the budget proposes to address our homeless crisis relative to the budget for charter schools. By my calculation, all the homeless measures together total about $365.1 million. The budget for charter schools is $806.5 million. That’s more than twice as much money as what we will spend to get our fellow citizens and their children into safe and stable homes. (Table of figures attached.)

While the budget as a whole is balanced in terms of dollars and cents, it is also hugely out of balance if we value children living in homes more than we do having charter schools and I do. Food, shelter and clothing are basic human needs for survival. Charter schools are not.

There could be many causes for this imbalance but the one I see most clearly is the law that gave the DC government the authority to grant charters for schools back in 1995 when things were very, very different. Though it’s seen some changes over the years, I think it is inadequate to govern our current public education reality. There’s no requirement that the board take into consideration anything other than the specific application before it, such as does DC as a whole need or want another charter school? The law gives it to the applicant to determine whether there is a need or not. There is nothing in the law to prevent anyone from anywhere coming here, and if the Board approves their application, being guaranteed that we the taxpayers will foot the bill for their school regardless of the effect on our budget. It allows the Board to approve up to ten applications a year, to obligate millions and millions of our tax dollars for years and years on end. The School Reform Act of 1995, in my view, badly needs a comprehensive update.

Meanwhile, in light of the terrible imbalance between our spending for homeless children and that for charter schools, I would love to see the board offer to put on hold any more charter school applications at least until the facilities that will replace DC General are up and running. I can’t imagine that any board member is entirely comfortable with the thought that their decisions, even if they are within the law, are tying up money that could be used to help the city solve the homeless problem.

But I know for a fact that Malcolm Peabody, who has been much celebrated for leading the effort to get charters schools in DC once said “I think it would be too bad for the charter schools to take over the whole city.”  I couldn’t agree more!

Table 1. Public Education System

Agency FY17 FY18 % change
DC Public Schools $905,881,570 $930,498,476 2.7
Charter Schools 723,717,252 806,482,683 11.4
Special Education Transportation 93,070,026 103,988,501 6.9
Non-Public Tuition 74,460,953 72,046,295 -3.2
DC Public Library 58,623,914 59,478,844 -1.3
Deputy Mayor Education 3,132,667 8,969,421 139.7
State Superintendent 495,306,485 498,318,338 0.6
State Board of Education 1,498,516 1,525,000 1.8
Charter School Board 8,013,987 9,109,827 13.7
UDC Subsidy 76,680,000 76,680,000 0.0
Teachers’ Retirement System 56,781,000 59,046,000 4.0
TOTAL $2,497,165,370 $2,626,033,385  

Note: figures are from the first page of Agency Chapters, volume 3, part 2, FY 17 and FY 18)

Homeless and Housing Expenditures, Operating

Homeward DC Allocation in millions
    Homeless Shelter Replacement Act of 2016 $28
    Permanent Supportive Housing 5.9
    Targeted Affordable Housing for Individuals & Families 3.0
    Rapid Re-housing 3.9
Housing Production Trust fund 100.0
Office on Aging Safe at Home Adaptations 3.0
DC Housing Authority Local Rent Supplemental Program 6.3
DHCD Housing Preservation 10.0
Affordable Housing components of Development Projects

Walter Reed—14

St Elizabeth’s—103

New Communities–85





TOTAL $365.1

Note: Figures for this table and the info below are from the Mayor’s Transmittal Letter and the Executive Summary, Introduction, FY18.

Homeless and Housing, Capital

Department Human Services–$50 million to acquire and construct temporary family shelters



Valerie Jablow Testimony – Education Committee Hearing on Public Charter School Board Budget – May 4, 2017


I am Valerie Jablow, a DCPS parent. I am testifying about the poor public engagement, civic planning, and fiscal responsibility of the charter board. Here, I will outline these problems—with specific solutions in footnote 5 of my testimony you have been handed.

–Applicants for charter schools are required to demonstrate a need that only they themselves determine. There is no disinterested analysis, so that “need” is defined only by charter operator desire–not public interest or desire. This has resulted in duplicative programs locating near, or marketing themselves to, existing schools. And, because our student population has not grown commensurately with growth in school seats (we now have more than 10,000 unfilled seats), existing schools including mine lose enrollment through no fault of their own.[i]

–The charter board website is the main source of publicly available information about our charter schools, but for any given school, there can be five or more different places to get information, none of which is obvious—and not all information is available, especially that from before 2011.[ii]

–Moreover, there is no listing of all notices of concern. Unless you read the agenda of every board meeting, you will not necessarily know what schools have been flagged for what concerns—nor why.

–Public comments are also not posted on the website in their entirety nor in a timely manner. In March, I and others sent in written testimony for both KIPP DC and DC Prep’s most recent applications. None of it has appeared on the charter board website, even though both applications were discussed by the board, and DC Prep’s voted on, at the April board meeting.[iii]

–In the last year alone, three properties in wards 7 and 8 were purchased by or on behalf of three charter organizations—KIPP DC, Rocketship, and DC Prep—to create new campuses. For all, the planning, the purchase (about $8 million total), and the permits were well underway or completed before the charter board or anyone in those neighborhoods saw any application for those schools–much less was asked for input.[iv] This lack of notice is particularly dire now that the charter board notification period for ANCs is down to 30 days from 45.

What all this means is that under current governance,[v] new charter schools are driven not by public demand, but by private desire.

Let me repeat: there is no public demand.

When students can be on 12 wait lists as they are in our lottery, wait lists are not demand. When less than a quarter of all our students participate in the lottery, as they did again this year, wait lists are not demand.[vi] And when real estate is purchased to build a school without neighbors having any clue, much less agreement or desire, that is not public demand.


This week and last, hundreds of people, including DC children and parents like me, testified before you about how our public schools right now are going without and need more funding for everything from staff to facilities.

That is public demand.


So I have to ask: whose budgets are being cut to create new charter schools every year without public demand, while our existing schools go without?

I can only hope that you, too, will ask that question going forward. Thank you.

[i] Many DCPS elementaries have decimated 5th grades as a result of charter school marketing themselves to their families and the misalignment of middle school grades between DCPS and charter middle schools. This is NOT anecdotal and has severe budget ramifications. See here:

Where Have All the 4th Graders Gone?


Duplicative programming was highlighted in the recent application of DC Prep to relocate its current elementary school to a new campus close by DCPS’s Ketcham Elementary. (Available here:–DC%20Prep%20Jan%202017.pdf)


On p. 13 of DC Prep’s application, it mentioned that Ketcham serves a similar population and has higher than average PARCC scores. So why start another elementary there if the one currently there is serving students well? Because this application was not about demand, but about real estate: DC Prep’s applied for that new school location on January 13, 2017. But DC Prep had purchased that site—a former Catholic school closed in 2007–in April 2016. By fall 2016, the building was undergoing extensive renovations.


Now, a year after that $2 million purchase, with untold thousands in renovation costs, the public component of that school is addressed. How is it possible to believe it would not get approved by the charter board? (The charter board did vote to approve it.)


[ii] There are more than 10 websites embedded in the link called “Information and Evaluations,” at the top of the charter board home page (the home page is; the “Information and Evaluations” page is available here: Charter applications, however, are at a separate link within the drop down menu when you swipe by “Information and Evaluations” on the home page (



These web pages contain a lot of critical information—but there is no place to access all of this information for each school in one place. Moreover, to find actual charter agreements, you have to go to yet another web link: first, click on the link at the top of the charter board home page called “For School Leaders.” Then scroll down to “Charter Agreements and Amendments.” Then search for the school you are seeking.


Even then, only the latest agreement is available–sometimes subsumed in 5-, 10-, or 15-year reviews. I also discovered that in at least one case (Washington Latin), what is available for its review (the 10-year charter review, from 2015-16) appears to be only an appendix, which consists of the school’s annual report for school year 2013-14 –not the charter board’s actual review. (I got to that from the home page, hitting the top pulldown choice of “information and evaluations,” then going down that page ( to “charter reviews and renewals” and searching for Washington Latin.) I mentioned this specific issue with regard to Latin’s information in January to charter board staff—it remains unchanged as of 5/3/17.


Such atomizing of public information means it is effectively unavailable to parents exercising school choice. Moreover, when I asked charter board staff how to get information from before 2011, I was told to FOIA it.


How are parents supposed to exercise meaningful school choice if they have to FOIA basic information?


[iii] I sent my testimony via email on March 20, 2017, to the charter board public comment email, to Scott Pearson, to members of the council’s education committee as well as to some committee and council staff and a few state board members. The testimony was addressed to the council education committee as well as the charter board. None of the emails bounced. The only acknowledgement I received was from Scott Pearson, who emailed a “thanks” shortly after I sent it in. Since then, I have inquired with charter board staff as to why my testimony has not been posted and have not gotten an answer why. The 21st Century School Fund and Washington Lawyers’ Committee also submitted written testimony for the same applications that also doesn’t appear anywhere publicly on the charter board website. It is unclear to me whether any of this written testimony was shared with the applicants or board members.
[iv] See the following for more information:


KIPP DC and DC Prep:




[v] Here are some ways in which charter school governance can be immediately improved by the charter board, the council, and mayor, without incurring undue cost or burden:


–All public comments given to the charter board about matters under consideration by the board should be made widely publicly available within a week of submission, posted in a place clearly marked on the website. All deadlines for such comments need to be clear and generous (i.e., more than a month).


–All applications for new schools; replications; expansions; campuses; locations; and enrollment ceiling increases must have an unbiased analysis for need, siting, and size that takes into account existing schools; resources; and student enrollments as well as the master facilities plan. This analysis should be part of the master facilities plan anyway.


–Complete overhaul of the charter board website, so that there is a clear delineation of all documents EVER relating to all charter schools, from soup to nuts, in ONE place for each school.


–The charter board needs to be responsible for the public in ways it is not right now, as it is the ONLY place where the public can go with concerns that exist in a larger sphere or if a school is unresponsive to the public. Thus, it cannot meet at night only; it must have public meetings more than once a month; and it must publish all comments it receives regarding its business at hand—and even beyond that.


If we really intend this to be a healthy system of public governance for a school system that educates nearly half our public school students, the following also needs to happen:


—The charter board should be elected and not allowed to receive campaign donations from anything other than a publicly financed campaign. The term limit of a charter board member should be no more than 3-4 years.


—Charter board staff and members should not be allowed to make donations to politicians in DC or receive donations from anyone.


—All charter board hearings and meetings need to be clearly delineated on the website. Publishing an agenda less than 48 hours before a meeting is not enough, especially as the agenda itself doesn’t always explain what action the board will take (saying it’s a “vote” isn’t specific enough—as in the recent case of KIPP DC, which had asked for a vote postponement: was the board voting on the application or its postponement?).


[vi] There are about 90,000 students in DC’s public schools. About 22,000 participated in the lottery this year. See the press release here: