Summer Hearings and Parent Cabinets

Dear Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization members,


Below is information about three hearings/town halls that will be held on a variety of education issues in the coming weeks:

June 27, 6 – 7:30 pm, Northeast Library (330 7th St., NE) Education Town Hall. Opportunity to share thoughts, ideas and concerns about moving DC schools forward and ensuring every student is in the best position to succeed. You are encouraged to
RSVP for the town hall. Let’s have a big showing or the Ward 6 Education Town Hall!

June 29, 11 am, Wilson Building, Room 412, Committee on Transportation & the Environment and the Committee on Education will hold a joint Public Roundtable on Summer Modernizations of DC Public Schools. Anyone wishing to testify should contact Aukima Benjamin at

July 13, 10 am, Wilson Building, Room 500, Committee of the Whole and the Committee on Education will hold a joint Hearing on the District of Columbia Education Research Advisory Board and Collaborative Establishment Act. Anyone wishing to testify should contact by July 11, 2018.

Parent and Community Advisory Board Applications

Please encourage parents in your school communities to apply for one of the 2018-2019 School Year advisory boards DCPS is establishing. The following five advisory boards are being established:

Descriptions of each advisory board can be found on the DCPS website.

The application is available at . All applications are due by 11:59 on Friday, June 22, 2018.

Thank you.

Suzanne Wells


CHPSPO Meets June 19 at Northeast Library

Dear Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization Members,

CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, June 19, at 6:30 pm at the Northeast Library (330 7th St., NE). At our meeting, Grace Hu, an Amidon-Bowen parent, will lead a discussion on technology needs at DCPS, representatives from Maury Elementary will discuss a lead petition they are spearheading, Gary Carleton will discuss a book sharing proposal for Ward 6 schools, and we will have an open discussion on the search for the next Chancellor and DME.

Please continue to remind your school communities about the feedback sessions OSSE is sponsoring on the ESSA school report cards being developed (see attached agenda for remaining dates), and the education town hall meeting on June 27 at the Northeast Library Councilmember Grosso is sponsoring.

Hope to see you on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells

061918 CHPSPO Agenda.docx


Coalition for DC Public Schools and Communities (C4DC) Resolution on the Bill Before the DC Council to Establish a Research Advisory Board and Collaborative

Whereas DC Councilmembers Mary Cheh, Robert White Jr, Charles Allen , Vincent Gray , Phil Mendelson, Brianne Nadeau, Elissa Silverman , Anita Bonds, and Trayon White, Sr. have co-sponsored the “District of Columbia Education Research Advisory Board and Collaborative Establishment Amendment Act of 2018,” and,

Whereas the Council included $500,000 in the FY 2019 budget and budget support act considered on first reading on May 15, 2018 to pilot such a program and,

Whereas C4DC believes independent research is critical to continuous improvement of public education; and,

Whereas the Act calls for creating a sixteen-person advisory board including representatives from DCPS, the DME, OSSE, PCSB, SBOE, parent organizations, DC education non-profits, the WTU, the principals’ union, and DC community representatives; and,

Whereas the Advisory Board, staff and DC Auditor will be charged with proposing to the DC Council the design for a long-term structure for an independent research entity; and

Whereas the collaborative will prepare “state of public education” reports each July; and

Whereas the Advisory Board and DC Auditor will hire an executive director and staff but also contract out independent research projects;

Be it therefore resolved, that the C4DC supports the principle of independent research and a representative advisory board, and the bill titled “The District of Columbia Education Research Advisory Board and Collaborative Establishment Amendment Act of 2018” and urges the Council to include its proposed $500,000 funding for FY19 to pilot such an initiative and to hold hearings on and enact a law based on the proposed bill before the start of FY19.

Signed By the Following Groups:

Ward 1 Education Collaborative
Ward 3/Wilson Feeder Education Network
Ward 4 Education Alliance
Ward 5 Council on Education
Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization
Ward 7 Education Council
Ward 8 Education Council
Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators
Teaching for Change
Washington Teachers Union
Washington Lawyers Committee


CHPSPO Meets Tuesday, May 15, at Jefferson Middle School Academy

Dear Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization Members,

CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, May 15, at Jefferson Middle School Academy (801 7th St., SW) from 6:30 – 8:00 pm. We will have an informal discussion with Michael Bekesha a candidate for the Ward 6 City Councilmember position. Unfortunately, Lisa Hunter and Charles Allen will not be able to attend our meeting due to scheduling conflicts.

Betsy Wolf, an Amidon-Bowen parent, will lead a presentation on at-risk funding. If you have information on how at-risk funds are used at your schools, please bring it to share.

Finally, we’ll have open discussions on 1) DC Education Research Advisory Board and CollaborativeEstablishment Bill that was introduced by Councilmember Cheh last month, 2) principal selection panels, and 3) traffic safety issues around our schools.

Hope to see you on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells

051518 CHPSPO Agenda.docx


Amber Gove Testimony, DCPS Budget Hearing, April 11, 2018

Thank you Councilmember Grosso and committee members for the chance to testify today.

As recent events have highlighted, DCPS needs steady leadership from someone who knows our city and system, and can deliver what parents, students and teachers need most: quality, safe schools that meet the needs of all students. This is also an election year, and given recent events, all eyes are on DCPS and the current budget cycle. This situation presents a unique opportunity to deliver on Mayor Bowser’s campaign promises, including her commitment to “Alice Deal for All,” a pledge to ensure all DCPS middle schools are as well-resourced as Deal. Unfortunately, raising the quality of all middle schools is a dream that has largely been deferred: according to OSSE data, the feeder school capture rate for all DCPS middle schools is 39 percent; Deal is an outlier at 74 percent. When it comes time to enroll their children in middle school, many parents do not yet believe that DCPS is the best option and they vote with their feet at an alarming rate.

As a Ward 6 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, Local School Advisory Team member, and parent of two girls at Maury Elementary on Capitol Hill, I regularly hear from residents about their educational aspirations for their children. Middle school choice is the hot topic of every playdate, parent gathering on the playground, and church coffee hour. What families want most is a safe, quality school that will meet the educational needs of their children and all of the children that it serves. They want a school that will welcome their involvement and volunteerism. And they don’t want to have to travel across town to get it: they want their children to walk or bike to their neighborhood middle school.

In our neighborhood, Eliot-Hine Middle School has the potential to deliver what Ward 6 parents want. But the school, like many within DCPS, is facing serious budget constraints related to its current enrollment levels. The funding formula for a middle school with just over 200 students presents limited opportunities for growth and vision. In multiple meetings with prospective parents, Principal Young and her leadership team have articulated a vision that includes staffing to meet the needs of all students, a focus on school culture and classroom responsiveness, and the extension of the school day to expand programming. Realizing this vision will require working outside of DCPS’ rigid enrollment-based funding formula, yet to date, DCPS has not even provided the minimum staffing model required by the International Baccalaureate program, particularly with regards to language. This needs to change, and urgently. Our community is seeking your support in asking the Deputy Mayor for Education and DCPS to fund Eliot-Hine not just to the levels of its existing enrollment, but through additional investments that support the school’s expected growth to some 500 students over the next few years.
Funding the school’s priorities is paramount if DCPS wishes Eliot-Hine to grow to its full potential and be able to attract more families from feeder and other Ward 6 schools. If you build it, we will come. At Maury we have compiled a list of nearly 40 students whose families are committed to enrolling at Eliot-Hine. Similar lists are being compiled at other feeder and non-feeder schools. Each of those school communities should be consulted to better understand what they would like to see at their child’s middle school. For example, parents of Tyler Elementary students are particularly interested in accelerated Spanish and immersion opportunities, an option not currently available at any nearby middle school. They are not alone, as the testimony of DC Language Immersion Project indicates. I ask that DCPS engage with principals and use the current budget cycle to fund the vision they and their communities have for their middle schools, beyond what current enrollment levels might dictate.

I also ask that the Deputy Mayor for Education work with the Chancellor to create a more pro-equity funding formula for all middle schools. As the figures attached to my testimony indicate, there is substantial variation in the amount of per-pupil funding middle schools receive for non-personnel costs. My analysis of FY19 budgets shows that while Deal can expect $1802 per student for non-personnel expenditures, nine of the eleven other middle schools receive less per student, and several receive only a third of Deal’s expected allocation. Some of these schools, like Eliot-Hine, have at risk populations of 70 percent or more. I was shocked to learn that middle schools receive a flat amount per student of just $9 for art, $10 each for music and PE/health, $12 for science and $20 for literacy: $61 in total for each student to support these critical subject areas. As a recent Washington Post article reports, more advantaged schools are able to supplement their DCPS allocations by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars through their PTAs. Most schools on this chart, and in particular those with a high percentage of at-risk students, have no such luxury. As just one proposal, I would suggesting starting every middle school with the same $1802 Deal will receive, and then add additional resources based on the proportion of at-risk students the school supports.

As an international education researcher and policy advisor, I’m often asked why I don’t work on domestic education issues. My usual response is that I work in places with all of the will and not enough means, while in the United States we have all of the means and not enough will. DC is different. As recent events have laid bare, there is a critical mass of residents, like me, who want our city to deliver on the promise of educating all students. We don’t want to play the lottery or compete for space in charter schools, leaving others behind. We don’t want our children to travel halfway across the city because their neighborhood school does not offer them what they need. And we don’t want to see another generation of students passed through the system without having their learning needs met. We have both the will and the means to achieve quality education for all, in all of our wards and neighborhoods. And we will remember the promises made (and the promises not fulfilled) at the polls in June and November.




Heather Schoell Written Testimony – DCPS Budget Hearing – April 19, 2018

Thank you for the opportunity to share my perspective. I’m the parent of a 10th grader at Eastern and an 8th grader at Eliot-Hine. I’m the PTO secretary at the former, the PTO president at the latter, and LSAT secretary for both schools. I have been involved in improving public schools since 2005.

Middle School Outcomes. I want to bring to your attention the struggle of middle schools and why the funding allocation is a square peg. Middle schools have only three years to work with students. Eliot-Hine, the feeder school for Maury, Miner, Payne, and SWS @ Goding, has not typically gotten the top-performing students from each feeder’s 5th grade. (Those kids are often taken out of their elementary school at 5th in favor of charters.) Two-thirds of the Eliot-Hine student population comes from Wards 7 and 8. Wherever they come from, Eliot-Hine inherits kids who read significantly below grade level, and staff has only three years to try to mitigate the deficiency.

That’s the way it’s been for years. How is that fair, then, to hold Eliot-Hine to a funding standard as they work to undo the damage that’s been done to these kids, when elementary schools (or other middle schools if they’ve transferred in) have failed to teach them to read? Reading is fundamental. We can’t expect academic success when children aren’t reading at or near grade level, let alone when they’re four or more grade levels behind. And when they can’t read, they can’t do math, social studies, or science. Reading is everything. It’s a struggle to thrive when you feel ashamed, and know that these kids absolutely feel shame about their reading levels.

Until someone stands up for these kids and does something different at both the elementary level for prevention and the middle school level for remediation, we can expect the same outcomes in middle and high school (and beyond). We can expect low levels of academic success, and we can continue to pour money into the same baseline budget formulas based on enrollment, and parents of the top students can continue to choose schools outside of their neighborhood, citing low test scores and/or the unrenovated building.

Funding can remain the same, or you can step up and right this wrong. Make the commitment to show that these kids are worth the investment. Fund a full-time librarian so she can continue to help students find the books that will inspire them to read and help them to do successful research for their IB projects. Fund City Year for Eliot-Hine, which will not only help with small-group differentiation in the classrooms, but would also serve as mentors. Mentors can alter the path of a child’s life.

Heath and Welfare. I’ve testified about this before, but I’ll say it again and again. Take the mental health and social worker positions out of the schools’ budgets! Put the onus on DBH and CFSA to embed their people in schools so students get the help they need and schools can hire teachers instead of social workers. This way it’s more equitable and needs-based, and more direct. This would help with attendance, too, as so much time is wasted in the process of noting chronic absence and doing something to address and mitigate it. And of course, good mental health and welfare directly correlates with the level of academic success. We need to have the courage to admit that what we’re doing isn’t working and fix it.

Conclusion. One thing is for sure: we can’t do the same thing and expect different outcomes. We’re talking about the same problems this year as we did five years ago. That can’t feel good, sitting where you are. It certainly doesn’t feel good to the students who aren’t getting what they need. Invest in prevention in elementary and targeted intervention and remediation in middle school. Have the courage to make big changes that will make a difference. Raise the bar – we rise to the level of our lowest expectations.