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DC Council Education Committee Budget Hearing – Testimony by Lamont Clark, CHM at Logan EC

Thank you Council Members for holding this important hearing.   I am Lamont Clark Treasurer of the Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan PTSO and parent of one son who is a 1st grader at the school currently.  My second son will begin attending the school in the fall.

As the father of two black boys I am acutely aware of the potential perils of their education or lack of it. My oldest son loves to touch things and explore his surroundings what educators would call a physical or kinesthetic learner. However in the traditional classroom children are expected to learn by sitting in their chairs and listening to the teacher – not by exploring.

Unfortunately, when a child’s learning style doesn’t match with the teaching style, trouble occurs. Young black boys can quickly get labeled ‘special ed’ if their learning style does not match traditional methods. Moreover, educational experts have noted that kids as young as eight or nine years old may lose interest in school and by fourth grade African American boys particularly  experienced a sharp decline in their test scores.

As we all know, these same young African American boys go on to have lower high school graduation rates, a greater likelihood of going to prison and higher mortality rates from homicide. I can’t, WE can’t, let DCPS be a pipeline to DYRS.

But Montessori teachers are trained to stimulate the child’s enthusiasm for learning, to guide it, and to help the child learn according to his own unique needs and capabilities.  That is why I am fully invested in Capitol Hill Montessori and would like my child to be able to attend through middle school. While I am fully aware of the sobering statistics of African American boys failing, I am also aware of studies that find that:

“Attending a Montessori program from the approximate ages of three to 11 predicts significantly higher mathematics and science standardized test scores in high school.”[i]

 

Another study found that “In East Dallas, a neighborhood in which the high school dropout rate is over 50%, children who attend EDCS [a Montessori school] have graduated from high school at a rate of 94%, with 88% of those graduates attending college. A ten-year study of standardized test scores found that third grade students’ average scores were in the top 36% nationwide in reading and math.”[ii]

 

Still another study “found that 12-year-old Montessori students wrote more sophisticated and creative stories and showed a more highly developed sense of community and social skills than students in other programs.”[iii]

 

And finally, a comparative study found that “There were strong differences suggesting that Montessori students were feeling more active, strong, excited, happy, relaxed, sociable, and proud while engaged in academic work. They were also enjoying themselves more, they were more interested in what they were doing, and they wanted to be doing academic work more than the traditional students.”[iv]

 

For too long schools across our nation — and here in our nation’s capital — have failed African American boys.  Montessori may provide one way to reverse that trend.  But we can only succeed if DCPS works with us to provide a fully-equipped and vibrant middle scho

 

[i] Dohrmann, K., “Outcomes for Students in a Montessori Program: A Longitudinal Study of the Experience in the Milwaukee Public Schools” (AMI/USA May, 2003). 

 

[ii] East Dallas Community Schools: Montessori Outcomes [Need more info in this reference so that someone could find the study.]

[iii] Lillard, A.S. & Else-Quest, N., “Evaluating Montessori Education,” Science 131: 1893-94 (Sept. 29, 2006).

[iv] Rathunde, K., “A Comparison of Montessori and Traditional Middle Schools: Motivation, Quality of Experience, and Social Context,” The NAMTA Journal 28.3 (Summer 2003): pp. 12-52. 

 

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Testimony of

Lamont Clark

Parent and Parent Teacher Student Organization Treasurer at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan Education Campus

Education Budget Oversight Hearing

Thursday, April 17, 2014  10:00 a.m.

John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

DC Council Education Committee Budget Hearing – Testimony by Tiffany Brown, CHM at Logan EC

Good Afternoon:  Council Member Catania and other members of the Committee on Education, thank you for the opportunity to speak at this important council hearing.  My name is Tiffany L. Brown, I am a 4th generation Washingtonian, a product of DC Public Schools, a DCPS Teacher, the Chairperson of the LSAT at the Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, (CHM@Logan), and the proud parent of two children at the school, one in first grade and the other in kindergarten.  I am here as a member of a school community that works tirelessly to ensure that the District has a great Montessori school, Pre-School through 8th grade.  CHM@Logan provides District children an unique learning experience.  The Montessori approach to learning is to embrace the whole child in their learning.  While there are prescribed gates of learning, each student is guided to ensure they reach their own milestone.   In August 2014, CHM@Logan will operate as a full-fledged Pre-school – 7th grade Educational Campus.  In order to do this, we need adequate funding to make this happen.  In late 2013, We, the CHM@ Logan community solictilated assistance from the Office of the Mayor, City Council, as well as DCPS to assure that the facilities as well as the resources would be in place, not planning to be there, but to be there by August 2014.  To date, we have not gotten any assurances that this will happen by the first day of the 2014-2015 school year.  As a product of this great school system, I know that this can be accomplished.

 

I do realize that every parent wants only the best for their child and that is what we want at CHM@Logan.  Our school body is composed of students from every ward in the city, including military families.  Every year since our inception, our numbers have grown, and the number of families seeking a Montessori Education for their children is astronomical, with 1,283 that applied for this upcoming school year alone.    Of that number, nearly 40 have applied for our middle school classes.

 

With all that said, we need our facilities to meet the ever-growing demands of our school community, as we expand to middle school.    We have asked and continue to ask for additional funding to convert our Annex space to a more suitable middle school environment; things like right-sizing the bathroom so that it is appropriate for middle school aged students, adding the needed technology, and other materials that make a Montessori Middle School Program work.

 

As it stands now in the District, the Middle Schools are a mess!  We want to help the District as it turns around its middle schools in the city.  We would love to be viewed as a beacon for Public Montessori Education that the Nation can follow.   If we fail to plan, then we plan to fail.    We want our children to feel supported, protected, and given the opportunity to learn in a Montessori Environment through Middle School.  We are asking that you help us by fully funding the Middle School Expansion, now.  We need our doors to open in August 2014, Ready to Educate.    At CHM@Logan our mission is to educate the whole child for a whole world.   Fully funding our middle school expansion will assist us in doing just that!  Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

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Testimony of

Tiffany L. Brown,

Parent and Local School Advisory Team Chair at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan Education Campus

Education Budget Oversight Hearing

Thursday, April 17, 2014  10:00 a.m.

John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

DC Council Education Committee Budget Hearing – Testimony by Shin Young Stallings, CHM at Logan EC

Good morning all, my name is Shin Young Stallings. I live in Anacostia and I’m a 6th grader at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan.  I am very interested in Physics.  To study Physics we need a science lab with equipment like Newton’s cradle, gears and turners, magnets, scales and electrical equipment.  I really want to be an engineer in the future, but to achieve that I need to learn physics.  To get a science lab, we need 25 to 35 thousand dollars, but not only for physics.  We also need the lab for biology, chemistry, astronomy and geology.  I hope you take this in to consideration for the future of our school.  Thank you.

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Testimony of

Shin Young Stallings

Student at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan Education Campus

Education Budget Oversight Hearing

Thursday, April 17, 2014  10:00 a.m.

John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

DC Council Education Committee Budget Hearing – Testimony by Gregory Melchoir-Fisher, CHM at Logan EC

Hello, I am Gregory Melchior-Fisher, a 6th grader from Capitol Hill Montessori, and I am here to show what our school could become if we get a science lab. We have almost 300 more currently enrolled today and over 1,000 children on our wait list. Our school needs more science equipment, but we will need to have more money. Many kids in our school want to be astronauts, or doctors, or teachers, or a scientist. They will not be able to reach their goals, unless you help them. Maria Montessori said, “Give a child a chance for success.”

 

We only ask for 25,000 to 30,000. Many schools in DCPS started small, just like us, such as Alice Deal or Stuart Hobson. We can only dream right now of having a middle school that large, but with a science lab, that dream could become a reality. I hope you put our testimonies into serious consideration.  Thank you for listening us today, and I hope we get that science lab.

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Testimony of

Gregory Melchior-Fisher

Student at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan Education Campus

Education Budget Oversight Hearing

Thursday, April 17, 2014  10:00 a.m.

John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

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DC Council Education Committee Budget Hearing – Testimony by Charlie Melchoir-Fisher, CHM at Logan EC

Good morning council members and neighbors. My name is Charlie Melchior-Fisher, and I’m here with my classmates from the Capitol Hill Montessori @ Logan. We need to have a science lab. Our school is adding a middle school, and I’ll be a 7th grader there.  DCPS says every middle school and high school student should have high quality science, but our school has never had a science lab. We will need one for years to come, so we ask you to give us 20,000 to 30,000 dollars so we can get proper science equipment for the coming year. We know that it may seem like we’re asking for a lot, but science is important to the curriculum and the world. Thank you for listening.

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Testimony of

Charlie Melchior-Fisher

Student at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan Education Campus

Education Budget Oversight Hearing

Thursday, April 17, 2014  10:00 a.m.

John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

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DC Council Education Committee Budget Hearing – Testimony by Preston Melchoir-Fisher, CHM at Logan EC

My name is Preston Melchior-Fisher, I live in Brookland and I am a 6th grade student at Capital Hill Montessori.  As President Obama said, “Leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today, especially in science, technology, engineering and math.” Our school has minimal equipment to learn most of these four subjects. Without a real science lab, we, our middle school cannot thrive, or our current primary and elementary students when they get to middle grades. We will be behind the rest of the world in science, engineering and the like. Our school needs a science lab to learn STEM, so that we can excel in all types of sciences, such as biology, chemistry, archeology, astronomy and geology, as well as engineering and technology. Thank you for listening.

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Testimony of

Preston Melchior-Fisher

Student at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan Education Campus

Education Budget Oversight Hearing

Thursday, April 17, 2014  10:00 a.m.

John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

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DC Council Education Committee Budget Hearing – Testimony by Mary Melchoir, CHM at Logan EC

Happy Thursday council members, staff and fellow citizens. My name is Mary Melchior. I am a resident of Brookland in ward 5 and have three 6th grade boys at the Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan.  Our school is adding a grade each year expanding up to 8th grade creating the first adolescent Montessori program in DC.

 

As a member of the ward five council on education we struggled for years after our community middle school was closed and our elementary schools were converted to PK-8 campuses to see our schools get the basic facility components. These schools were left without labs, or basic middle school offerings for years.

 

It seems in approving the middle grades program at Logan DCPS is repeating the same mistakes. No funding has been provided to update the building our middle graders will be using. No science lab, no technology, no basics. Just two years ago $147,000 was spent to renovate this same building to house the School within a School program.  This was always intended to be a temporary facility for them.  Now there are zero dollars to upgrade that same building for middle grade students for a program intended to be a permanent expansion.

 

My family has become the disheartening example for our school community. We chose to stay at Logan due to the strength of the program, staff and teachers and DCPS’s stated commitment to our middle grades program. We did not move to our guaranteed slot at Stuart-Hobson, or other options at McKinley tech middle school or a charter. Now they have pulled the rug out from under us. The building renovation is cancelled, our guarantee to spots at Stuart Hobson are gone, McKinley we are wait listed, middle grades charters largely don’t accept 7th graders. Our choice is gone and we are pointed to by other families at Logan that we can’t trust the city and DCPS to provide just the basics for our students.

 

It also speaks to the general mismanagement of school renovations since mayoral control.  The IG did a report outlining much of it under Mayor Fenty but I think many of the same problems exist.  The original Master Facilities Plan assessed the condition of buildings and planned their renovations due to basic conditions, worst buildings first.  Now we have a standard of the order of school renovations is a matter of mayoral whim.  There may be standards, but they are not explained and the public has no input. The MFP also planned to keep a number of our closed schools in inventory until after the major renovations were finished.  That would have allowed the system to do long term planning and avoid rush costs in renovations by moving students to another building for the year a building was renovated.  Not doing this has not served the taxpayer or DCPS, and the cost increases due to turning these buildings over to charters rather than use them as swing spaces are used as a reason to indicate that charters should get more facilities money.    Also SITs are formed too late to do proper planning leading to projects having large cost overruns and probably not the best designs for their purpose.  Thank you very much for your consideration.

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Testimony of

Mary Melchior

Parent at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan Education Campus

Education Budget Oversight Hearing

Thursday, April 17, 2014  10:00 a.m.

John A. Wilson Building, Room 500