Status

DC Cannot Afford the Luxury of Not Planning for Its Schools

The DC School Boundary and Feeder Pattern proposal, just released by the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME), reflects widespread sentiment for high-quality, by-right neighborhood schools. Families in all wards want their children to have the choice to attend neighborhood schools that offer a balanced and rich curriculum—with the challenges and support their children need.

We commend the DME and the advisory committee for spending countless hours listening to thousands of parents across the city and debating how best to redraw school boundaries and reestablish coherent feeder school patterns. While some may be unhappy over particular lines or feeder patterns, no one should lose sight of the overall direction this proposal lays out for our city.

Now, much work lies ahead to ensure quality by-right schools in every neighborhood. Because of closures, or misguided reforms to create K-8 educational campuses, some parts of the city have no neighborhood elementary schools; others have no middle schools.

The proposal clearly shows that DC public schools (DCPS) and the DME are being thoughtful about planning to best meet the need, and obvious demand for, high-quality neighborhood schools. Indeed, the proposal, along with the funding formula to help the lowest performing schools, represent a necessary investment in achieving high-quality neighborhood schools everywhere in our city.

But all that good planning will come to nothing if we do not immediately deal with the elephant in the room: the lack of coordination and planning between DCPS and charter schools.

Longstanding neglect of our public schools—which the DME’s boundaries proposal and the funding formula seek to undo–emboldened Congress in 1995 to make DC a testing ground for the burgeoning charter movement. Less than 20 years later, 43% of our public school students attend charters funded with DC taxpayer dollars.

The current lack of coordination between charters and DCPS has had huge ramifications for public policy. Without a substantially growing student population, the creation of new schools, both charter and DCPS, has resulted in existing schools losing enrollment—and therefore resources. And those losses lead to failing schools and school closures.

This tremendous waste, in the name of competition, is not some logical by-product of educational checks and balances. It is a cost borne by all DC taxpayers and, worst of all, every one of DC’s public school kids.

Our city needs to use the DME’s new boundaries plan as the first step in collaborative public education planning with charters. Now is the time for our city to dedicate resources to strategically reopen neighborhood schools and to ensure all neighborhood schools get the resources they need. And it is time for charters to coordinate with existing schools, both charter and DCPS, to ensure that their innovations are brought to the kids who can most benefit.

DC parents want a system of choice schools, not school competition where our children’s educations are put at risk when any school lacks what it needs. A collaborative approach to running our public school system can create an environment in which every school, and therefore every child, has a fair chance to succeed.

Doing otherwise is just a luxury our city cannot afford.

 

Caryn Ernst, Capitol Hill Cluster School parent

Valerie Jablow, Capitol Hill Cluster School parent

Suzanne Wells, Tyler Elementary School parent

CHPSPO Meeting Notes October 15, 2013

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization
Maury Elementary, 1250 Constitution Ave., NE

October 14, 2013, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

1. Education Adequacy Study by Deputy Mayor of Education – Jennifer Comey – send questions/comments to jennifer.comey@dc.gov and dme.adequacystudy@dc.gov

  • Find presentation and annexes here: http://dc.gov/DC/DME/About+DME/News+Room/Deputy+Mayor+for+Education+Releases+Preliminary+Findings+and+Recommendations+of+the+DC+Education+Adequacy+Study
  • Preliminary comments from Cathy Reilly and Matthew Frumin:
    • While there are a number of concerns with the impact of implementing the recommendations of the study, I think the major concern is that the charter schools will see substantially more funding  while DCPS would see more funding, but substantially less than the charters.
    •  A significant point of contention seems to be around the issue of funding M&O costs (estimated at $43.3 million).  Jen said last night that DCPS wouldn’t have to bear these costs, and there was some discussion about more efficient use of DCPS buildings, e.g., co-locating social services agencies, sharing space with charter schools, etc., that would make up some of the $43.3 million.  The bottom line though is that if DCPS does have to bear the M&O costs, the recommendations in the Eduation Adequacy Study would give DCPS an additional $13 million, and the charters would see around a $79 million increase.
  • Other background reading:

2. DCPTA – Bryan Banks

  • Elections are happening soon. Any PTA member eligible to vote. Two votes per school.

3. Public Oversight Roundtable on School Boundaries and Feeder Patterns

4. Update on Education Bills before City Council – no update this month, but here’s a bit of background: http://greatergreatereducation.org/post/20359/group-critiques-catania-education-proposals/

5. Report Out/Lessons Learned Walk-to-School Day – George Blackmon

$350 mini-grant received from Capitol Hill Community Foundation

$120.00     Permit for Lincoln Park

$  34.90     Portable microphone rental from Fragers

$  40.45     Coffee cups and creamer from Safeway

$  83.54     Gogurt and granola bars from Costco

$  71.11     Proposed payment to Vigilante Coffee

$350.00

Donations

200 bags from Georgetown Athletics/MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

50 bags from Councilmember Wells’ office (Harris Teeters bags)

250 water bottles from DC Water

250 apples from Long Meadow Farms

Thousands of fruit ropes from Clif Bars

Walk-to-School Day banners and activity flyers from Clif Bars

Light bike maintenance by The Daily Rider DC

Banner by the Long/Short Walk (via T. Bella Dihn-Zarr)

Next CHPSPO Meeting:  November 19, 2013

Upcoming Events:

October 18      Comments due to Deputy Mayor for Education on Education Adequacy Study

October 26      Tyler Harvest Festival, 11 am – 3 pm – food and games, a costume contest, and other fun activities as we celebrate the harvest of Tyler’s outdoor garden.  Learn about our Outdoor Classroom and how our garden grows!

October 26      Maury Harvest Festival, 10 am – 3 pm – there will be games, a cake walk, a dunk tank and lots of other fun activities

October 26      Brent Fall Festival, 10 am – This annual event unites the Brent community and the neighborhood.  The day is full of fun for families and kids with a moon bounce, face painting, carnival games, live music, and a used book sale.

October 26      Capitol Hill Montessori @ Logan Haunted Harvest Festival, 6 – 9 pm – Mad scientist, haunted house, chili cookoff, arts & crafts, face painting and more!

November 15  Public Roundtable on School Boundaries and Feeder Patterns, 9 am