Rebecca Reina Testimony – Roundtable on Chancellor of DCPS Dr Ferebee Confirmation – February 6, 2019

Testimony of Rebecca Reina

to DC Council, Committee on Education, public hearing

on the nomination of Dr. Lewis Ferebee as Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools,

on 2/6/19 at 6:00 pm,

Cardozo Education Campus cafeteria (1200 Clifton St, NW)

 

Hello, I‘m Becky Reina, mother of 2 Cleveland Elementary School students, where I have served on the PTA and LSAT. I am also the Interim Chair of the newly relaunched Ward 1 Education Council; although I am here today in my capacity as a parent, not on behalf on the Education Council. Thank you for this opportunity to testify on the nomination of Dr. Lewis Ferebee to lead DC Public Schools.

I have not yet met Dr. Ferebee.  He seems to be an earnest, committed educator.  There are things about his work in Indianapolis that give me pause: I am very much against handing traditional public schools to charter operators and against dismantling a system of neighborhood, by-right schools at any age-level, including high school; I am also concerned about his oversight of the sexual abuse case that has come to light in Indianapolis, particularly because that school district’s response appeared not to be focused on what was best for the student, but instead on limiting liability.

I am gladdened by Dr. Ferebee’s immediate outreach to the DC community, including the Ward coffees he has already begun and the invitation to meet that I and my fellow Chairs of Ward-based education groups have received. This engagement is a vital first step. But, now Dr. Ferebee must not only listen to community concerns, but also change his thinking and actions based on what he hears. In the past 5 years, I have been to many beautiful stage-managed community engagement meetings and watched numerous Chancellors and Acting Chancellors listen with furrowed brows.  I have not seen those same Chancellors defend DCPS against the encroachment of charter schools and the gradual degradation of our by-right, neighborhood feeder system that can and should take children on a clear, well-supported school journey from PK3 to 12th grade in *every* part of this city. To start that defense, our DCPS schools need:

1) adequate At-Risk and ELL funding which supplements not supplants the funding of core school functions,

2) a dedicated technology budget for every school that supports not only laptops for testing but also continuing classroom use of a computers, laptops, tablets, headphones, and SMART boards and maintenance of all these devices — funding that is reliable and continuing, and not based on grants or PTA largess,

3) a clear, adequate feeder pattern in every neighborhood — including but not limited to the reopening of Shaw Middle School in the Cardozo feeder pattern at the site of the former Shaw Junior High School and robust community engagement prior to any changes that affect feeder patterns,

4) additional funding for translation services for schools that require it to communicate with their families,

5) a plan for and funding of transporting middle school students to school in parts of town where public transit is not currently adequate,

6) increased seats in dual language programs,

7) adequate Out of School Time funding for both before and aftercare for every student that wants a seat,

8) a full roll out and adequate training on social/emotional learning curricula and trauma-informed teaching and discipline, including fully funding and implementing the Student Fair Access to School Act,

9) an overall DCPS budget that is adequate and fair to individual schools, both in terms of money and time. — As an aside I confirmed this morning that school leaders still don’t have their budgets although they are due back to Central Office at the end of next week, which is not enough time for adequate engagement with school communities nor to undertake the budget gap-closing measures school leaders are regularly forced to engage in outside the official budget process, such as applying for outside grants,

— and perhaps most importantly,

10) the bravery to end the hyperfocus on flawed test metrics that results in a culture of fear, lack of transparency, top-down unfunded mandates, high teacher turnover, and a narrowing of curriculum; meaning to have the bravery to embrace, nurture, and trumpet the amazing work our students, educators, and families are doing in our DCPS schools every day and to hold space for them as they honestly confront challenges, whether academic or not.

This laundry list of problems are things that our school Chancellor must advocate for if he is not given them by the Mayor. We need a DCPS Chancellor who will have those hard conversation on behalf of our children. And frankly, we need a City Council that uses the full breadth of its power to make sure we have that Chancellor. Please fully vet Dr. Ferebee before voting on his nomination to determine whether he will be the Chancellor that DCPS and its students need.

Thank you very much.

Sandra Moscoso Testimony – Roundtable on Chancellor of DCPS Dr Ferebee Confirmation – February 6, 2019

Sandra Moscoso Testimony

Committee on Education’s public roundtable on PR23-0067, the “Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee Confirmation Resolution of 2019.”

February 6 at 6:00 P.M. at Francis L. Cardozo Education Campus

Good evening, Chairpersons and Councilmembers. I am Sandra Moscoso, the parent of a 7th grader at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan and 10th grader at School Without Walls. I am also a long-time member of the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization, which has served as the Ward 6 education council for 14 years.

During our time with DCPS and also DC Charter Schools my family has seen one superintendent and six acting-interim-chancellors at the helm. I share this as a reminder that my children are in the end, the beneficiaries or victims of your decisions, but also a reminder that most of us are here not as watch dogs, but rather, for the long haul. We come in peace, as community members seeking to collaborate with you and DCPS to strengthen our schools.

I have attached an excerpt from a letter released June 2018 by the Coalition for DC Public Schools & Communities to reiterate what CHPSPO supports in a Chancellor.

Today, I will focus on transparency, advocacy, and institutional commitments.

I have heard Acting Chancellor Ferebee cite transparency as the way to build trust. This is heartening, but it’s important we have a shared understanding of what transparency means. To me, this means transparent decision-making, creating opportunities for families and school educators to weigh in on decisions, and it means transparency around the data, facts, and evidence upon which decisions are made. Today, there is a very active conversation about transparency in charter schools. DCPS is ahead here and has the opportunity to continue to lead, by publishing decision-useful data in open formats. I will plug data.dc.gov as the perfect home for now.

On advocating for DC Public Schools, I say – join us! Las month was “School Choice Week” and this reminds me there is a huge lobby effort supporting DC charters. This does not exist for DCPS. Neighborhood schools are also schools of choice. It has been a source of frustration for families who spend blood, sweat and tears supporting our local schools to have efforts undermined by glossy marketing campaigns. For years, we have pushed for DCPS to leverage built-in strengths like geographic communities, feeder pattern communities, and multi-generational alumni networks. After years of leaving these feeder relationships up to schools, in Ward 6, we’re finally starting to see feeder-wide events and open houses supported by DCPS. I hope this type of support will continue and grow.

Finally, I want to talk about institutional commitments. Early in this testimony I shared the number of DCPS leaders my family and community have engaged with. As you can imagine we have all been through many many visioning sessions, where we have been asked what we want from our schools. I think by now, our city has a good sense of what the community wants and this is captured at a high level in the DCPS Strategic Plan for 2017-2022. I ask Council to hold DCPS’ Chancellor to this commitment and to please not start over.  Dr. Ferebee comes to DC having developed a network of innovation schools. I hope he will take the time to get to know our schools and recognize the local, on-the ground innovation that takes place every day. I hope he will not be tempted to push schools to run after externally mandated shiny things at the expense of honoring DCPS’ commitments.

Thank you for this opportunity.

Mary Levy Testimony – Roundtable on At-Risk Funding – February 1, 2019

TESTIMONY BEFORE THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE AND THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COUNCIL
At-Risk Funding Transparency

Mary Levy   –   February 1, 2019

Thank you for holding this hearing, and thanks to the Council members who introduced and who supported this legislation.  Since 1980, I have analyzed public school budgets, expenditures, and staffing to determine where the money goes.  For each of the past five years I have worked with the Coalition for DC Public Schools and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute to analyze local school budgets, especially the use of at-risk funding.

Clearly, each year DCPS has used at-risk funding to supplant funds for other programs, in contravention of the DC Code.  My colleagues and I have documented this practice; the Committee on Education itself has consistently made the same finding in annual Committee reports; and DCPS officials have admitted it in testimony to this Council.  Yet it has continued.

This practice cheats at-risk students by using funds designated to services to support them to instead fund services for which all qualifying students are entitled, regardless of at-risk status.  These services include legally required special education and ELL student services as well as general education services provided to all students in each grade level.  Schools with few at-risk students and little money to take have virtually all of their core program funded with regular funds, while schools with large at-risk enrollments have less per pupil in regular funding.  This is classic supplant rather than supplement.[1]

In addition, our analyses show that this practice is inequitable among schools with similar populations.  The siphoning off of at-risk funds varies greatly among individual schools in any given year; some schools lose most of their at-risk funds to supplanting and others very little.

There already being a law against using at-risk funds this way, the proposed legislation is an important further step in securing more effective services for at-risk students.  I see two main strands:  transparency and an increased role for local schools in determining the best use of the funds.   Transparency in the form of full information both in budget formulation and in reporting on actual use of funds is important and necessary.  Sunshine makes a difference, and the specific provisions here will help prevent the budget fait accomplis that we have experienced, where mis-allocation becomes visible only when it is too late to correct.

Having the plans for use of at-risk funds formulated by principals and Local School Advisory Teams brings in the expertise of those closest to individual students and their needs.  This was part of the original enactment providing at-risk funding, and the Council was right the first time.  The Chancellor will retain the ability to amend inappropriate plans, and the incidence of siphoning at-risk funds off for core program use will probably be eliminated.

Please enact this legislation.

——-

APPENDIX

DCPS officials have argued that they cannot afford to fully fund the core program services provided to all students regardless of at-risk status.  More money from the Council would be helpful, but even without it, there are at least three alternatives available:

(a) Rethink general education entitlements: do all students, even the most advantaged, need every single staff/NPS level entitlement?

(b) Reduce funding for programs not based on student need that are available to only a select few schools chosen by criteria unknown. I have a list.

(c) Cut down on central office staff, who are much more numerous and much more highly paid than was the case 12 years ago

As to alternative (c), according to the most recent statistics from Census Bureau fiscal reports, DCPS central office spending in FY 2016 was 10.8% of total current expenditures, compared to the U.S. average of 1.9% percent.  DCPS is spending $2,260 per pupil, which is ten times the US average of $226.[2]  For many years I have categorized DCPS employees by whether or not they serve students directly, which is what most members of the public want to know when they ask about central office or “administration.”[3]   The number of central office full-time equivalent staff performing the same functions that DCPS now performs has risen from 516 in 1981, when we had 95,000 students to 626 in 2007, when we had 52,000, to 797 this year for about 49,000.

Below are November 2019 counts of central office staff with common titles.  Certainly the system needs some number of these people.  Those who are really good are worth a great deal.  But do we really need 45 Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs?  86 Directors?  180 Program Specialists?

Title # of FTEs Title # of FTEs
Chief 14 Program Specialist 180
Deputy Chief 31 Project Manager 73
Director 86 Coordinator 144
Manager 79 Analyst 55
Specialist 84 Program Coordinator 9

If central office were reduced to a more reasonable level, DCPS would not have to appropriate at-risk funds for core program services that are funded with regular funds at schools in well-to-do neighborhoods.

[1] Some alternatives are listed on the reverse of this testimony.

[2] Derived from U.S. Census Bureau, Public Education Finances:  2016, May, 2018 Tables 6, 7 and 19.  https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2016/econ/school-finances/secondary-education-finance.html.  These figures are self-reported by DCPS.

[3] The source is lists of DCPS employees, obtained by FOIA or from submissions to the D.C. Board of Education (before FY 2008) or to the DC Council (since FY 2008), based on office of employment, program, job title, purpose of applicable grant funding, and DCPS website descriptions.  Employees performing functions subsequently transferred or contracted out are excluded in the earlier year calculations.

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Jessica Sutter Testimony – Roundtable on At-Risk Funding – February 1, 2019

February 1, 2019

Jessica Sutter

Testimony at Council Oversight Roundtable on At Risk Funding Transparency

Thank you Chairman Mendelson and Members of the DC Council for inviting public testimony today. My name is Jessica Sutter and I have the honor of representing Ward 6 on the DC State Board of Education. I am testifying here today as an individual, and not on behalf of the SBOE.

I support the goal of this bill: to help guarantee that the original purpose of the at-risk funding mechanism—promoting equity of opportunity in education—is fully realized. Increasing equity of opportunity for all young people is why so many educators decided to work in or with public schools. But we have not yet realized the goal of providing all DC children with equitable opportunities to succeed and I believe that some modifications to the bill can help us get a bit closer than we are today.

I have three requests to modify the bill as currently written.

First – there is simply a need for more funding to serve students who are identified as “at-risk.” We know this. The 2014 Adequacy Study from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education recommended for $3906 per student identified as “at-risk.” Our current funding is nowhere near that. In order to best serve the diverse needs of our diverse student body in Ward 6, and all across the city, we need the UPSFF to be adjusted to weight “at-risk” funding at the recommended level. This will benefit early childhood students at Amidon-Bowen ES and AppleTree PCS, it will benefit middle school students at Eliot-Hine and it will benefit young people in the alternative education programming at Kingsman Academy. All Ward 6 students – and all students District-wide – who meet the definition of being “at risk” deserve these funds as a matter of educational equity. I ask that you increase the funding to the recommended level and ensure that school leaders have the power to spend it in ways that can best serve the needs of children in their care.

Second, I’d recommend streamlining the reporting on how at-risk funds are spent. As written, the bill would require LEAs to provide reports to the Council each year that explain how each school used its at-risk funds. Rather than create an additional report, it would be great to see this information reported as part of the DC School Report Card, allowing students and families a chance to gain an understanding of schools’ budgeting priorities and spending histories. This would increase school budget and funding transparency – a matter for which parents and teachers across the city are currently advocating. DC PAVE has selected school funding and budget transparency as one of their key advocacy issues for 2019.

The ESSA Task Force of the SBOE is working with OSSE to establish how data on per pupil expenditures will be displayed on the School Report Card (starting in December 2019), the at-risk funding expenditures could, perhaps be displayed in the same section. This would streamline information for the public, especially families, and it could reduce the administrative burden on schools that are saddled with many reporting requirements to their LEA, to OSSE, the federal government, and other external partners and grantors.

Finally, adding a standardized set of terms and definitions—like a common set of expenditure categories—to the language of this bill would ensure all LEAs are reporting the same data points and pieces of information. It would also allow for easier at-a-glance understanding of how schools use these funds to promote both well-being and improved achievement among at-risk students, and better (if still limited) comparisons across schools. Common categories would allow for public transparency in considering how schools spend these funds, while also acknowledging that the kinds of expenditures that benefit students classified as “at risk” are often hard to tie directly to immediate (i.e. – within year) academic outcomes.

I thank you for your consideration of these recommendations and for allowing me time to speak today.

 

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Grace Hu Testimony – Roundtable on At-Risk Funding – February 1, 2019

Grace Hu
Amidon-Bowen Elementary PTA
mailto:amidonbowendc@gmail.com
February 1, 2019

My name is Grace Hu. I serve on the PTA of Amidon-Bowen Elementary and have previously served on the Amidon-Bowen Local School Advisory Team.  On behalf of the Amidon-Bowen PTA, I would like to thank you for holding this hearing and specifically thank Councilmember Charles Allen for introducing legislation on the important topic of at-risk funding.

Earlier this week Comments on CM Allen At Risk Funding bill Jan 29 2019. Our PTA contributed to and endorses those comments. My testimony today provides additional views specific to our school community.

Chronic underfunding not an excuse to misuse at-risk funding

Amidon-Bowen Elementary, the neighborhood elementary school for Southwest DC, serves approximately 350 students, of which more than 70% have been identified as “at risk”.  Our parents notice that staffing positions are on the chopping block each year and students lack basic resources (e.g., computers to support online testing and curricula, paper, other supplies) in the classroom. We wonder how are we expected to close the achievement gap (and overcome our 2-star OSSE rating) without a serious investment of resources?

But while we believe there is a chronic underfunding of our schools, we also believe that chronic underfunding is not an excuse for the misuse of at-risk fundsAs long as at-risk funding is being used to cover budget gaps at our neediest schools while schools without at-risk funding are provided base positions and resources without this shell game (see footnote [1]) of moving around at-risk money to cover shortfalls, funds that are designed to provide equity will continue to be used to create inequity.

At-risk funds and student achievement

Although the intent of existing law is to improve student achievement among at-risk students, we currently use at-risk funding on things like social workers, psychologists, and afterschool staffing. These provide significant value to our students and families and should be available, but they are not specifically targeted to closing the achievement gap. If we want to narrow the achievement gap, we have to be more intentional about targeting instructional resources to at-risk students. Research shows that biggest bang for your buck in improving student performance is supplementing instruction, for example, providing more staffing to enable small group tutoring and smaller class sizes.

We have seen encouraging early evidence of the impact of supplemental instructional support at Amidon-Bowen. Last year was the first year that Amidon-Bowen employed both a reading specialist and a math intervention coach. The math intervention coach provides small group and intensive tutoring to roughly 30 low-performing students in grades 4 and 5. The reading specialist provides intensive tutoring to 25 low-performing students in grades 2 to 5. The initial results are promising: a higher percentage of students receiving additional math support met their middle-of-the-year growth targets compared to students who did not receive the additional support. 80% of those who met with the reading specialist met their growth goals, and average gains for “below basic” students who met with the reading specialist were higher than those of similarly low-performing students who did not receive this support.

Despite this progress, we’ve been told by DCPS to not expect these positions to be continued in future years. One of these positions was funded with at-risk funds; the other was gifted to us because we could not afford it in our budget.

If we could focus all of our at-risk funding (~$500K per year) on instructional supports with a direct tie to student achievement, we believe our school could make significant academic progress. Instead our at-risk funding is used to cover legally mandated special education (even though the majority of our at-risk population are not students in need of special education services) and other positions that should be covered under a base budget.

Lastly, transparency and other requirements related to at-risk funds should apply to all Local Education Agencies (LEAs) across both sectors to ensure all at-risk students are getting the supplemental support they need and deserve.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

[1] School budgets should be equally funded according to the comprehensive staffing model before at-risk funds are allocated. In Title 1, this is called “Title 1 neutral” and is guidance we follow every year. Instead, in DC it’s easy to tell which schools receive at-risk funds before they’ve been allocated. The budgets of schools with high percentages of at-risk students have holes in core staffing. DCPS then uses at-risk funds to fill these manufactured gaps. Large gaps in core staffing only exist at our schools most in need.

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Testimony of Becky Levin – DCPS Food and Nutrition Services Program – September 30 2015

Testimony of Becky Levin, parent of Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan Student

DCPS Food and Nutrition Services Program

Council of the District of Columbia, Education Committee

September 30, 2015

 

 

Members of the DC Council, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you about food and nutrition services in D.C. Public Schools and what you can do to promote good nutrition in our school system, how to maximize the effectiveness of tax payer dollars funding school meals, and strategies to consider as DCPS moves forward to select either new vendors or a new system for producing meals in subsequent school years.

 

My name is Becky Levin, I am the mother of a third grader at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, a coordinator of the school’s Health and Wellness Club, and a Commissioner on the D.C. Healthy Youth and Schools Commission.  At Logan, we are working hard to teach our students and their families about nutrition and to promote healthy eating and living throughout our school’s activities. I’m also an advocate working on Child Nutrition Reauthorization currently pending in Congress.  I talk to a lot of school food service professionals, nutritionists, and other advocates working very hard to make school meals healthier, delicious, and appealing.  There are fantastic examples across the country that can help the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) greatly improve our school meals. DCPS has had some promising initial successes. I am confident that with thoughtful consideration, such as convening hearings like today’s, and the proper oversight DCPS can once again be a leader in providing excellent and student-embraced school meals.

We all know that children, like adults, require good nutrition to power their brains so that their minds are well-fueled and they aren’t distracted by a rumbling belly.  Excellent nutrition is particularly critical for young children, as their brains are still developing. We also know that proper nutrition and exercise are essential to combat childhood obesity, adult obesity, preventable health complications and sky- rocketing health care costs. Thank you for recognizing that supporting healthy school meals efficiently addresses both public health and education issues and is a prudent and cost-effective investment. Providing the highest-quality nutrition for the districts nearly 46,000 students- about 8 million meals a year – should be a priority, especially since twenty-six percent of D.C. children are living in poverty.

 

School meals are a lifeline for poor students to access better health, a better learning experience, and a better future.  I want to emphasize this. Nutrition in schools should be a core focus of the public school system, and- yes- I fully recognize that there are many challenges facing DCPS.  Already, DCPS makes decisions about whether or not to open schools in bad weather, recognizing some children may not eat all day if schools are not open.  Every day that school is open is an opportunity for students to not only learn but to become healthier.

Thank you Councilman Allen- you and your staff have been very open to exploring solutions and are always willing to engage on this important subject. I’d also like to thank Councilwoman Mary Cheh and her staff for spearheading the innovative Healthy Schools Act, which is a critical first step in improving quality and standards in DCPS school meals. I’m very interested in your proposal to create a Food Policy Council and Director for D.C.  Thank you also Councilmembers Elissa Silverman and Brianne Nadeau for joining Councilmembers Allen and Cheh in the vote of disapproval for DCPS to continue the Chartwell’s contract.

I encourage Council to build on this new beginning for DCPS school food to improve student health and school meals by taking a serious look at the next critical step, selecting a responsible vendor or vendors, preferably local vendors that will provide scratch cooking, rather than the large, multi-state vendors, many of whom have proven that they are simply out to maximize profit with little regard for either quality or transparency. Ultimately, the best step would be to bring meal production and food procurement back within the public sector instead of contracting with private, for- profit vendors.  I recognize this is a very significant step, but there is clear evidence to support this transition.

School food service privatization has failed to economically manage food service and promote and maintain high quality- not just in DC but in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan, Wisconsin and across the country. The stories are the same.  These large, multi-state food service management companies have increased deficits, decreased quality, hidden rebates, and profited at the expense of inferior nutrition for children. Despicable.

The recent $19.4 million settlement with Chartwells, regardless of whether the contractor admits fault, is a clear sign that the privatization, accountability, and procurement in D.C. government specifically is a problem. Despite repeated and continuous opportunities to hold this vendor accountable, it took a whistleblower lawsuit from outside of DCPS to begin to clean this mess up.

In order for the Healthy Schools Act to achieve its potential, the DCPS food services team needs to have experienced, professional and stable leadership.  If meal service is not produced in-house, then DCPS needs to very carefully select a trustworthy partner or partners as vendors and carefully manage the contract.  It’s also essential that there be transparency, accountability, and sustained high quality in all meals and snacks.  Oversight from Council is needed here. Problems with food services procurement, contract review, cost overruns, and quality has been a problem for too long.  Council should also require and direct DCPS to improve outreach to and coordinate with parents, students and teachers to improve satisfaction, reduce waste, and increase participation.  It’s my understanding that participation rates have dropped significantly, but the data is not readily available or transparent.  Ambitions new goals should be set to increase participation.  Participation data should be publically available and reported to Council in a standardized format broken out by individual school and with a comparison to participation numbers when they were at a peak.

Food waste is a problem, because many students do not like the food being served, a big change from a few years ago.  I encourage DCPS to work together with students, parents and DCPS faculty to make meals more engaging and appealing.  A few suggestions include forming an advisory board of students and faculty, holding a contest for new meal entries similar to what the First Lady Michelle Obama has successfully accomplished with Let’s Move, holding townhall meetings for input, and having food services representatives attend PTSO meetings to provide updates on changes and field questions.  A survey is a fine beginning, but it’s important to create and sustain a dialogue rather than quickly disseminating a one-time gauge of satisfaction.

Food waste, however, is a byproduct of meals, even with high meal satisfaction. But there’s a better way to handle it than just pitching out food.  Composting was supposed to be provided, but it’s no longer happening at our school. This should be a requirement throughout the school system.  There are also some very simple, common sense approaches to reducing plate waste.  Give students more time to eat lunch.  An extra 10 minutes would be helpful.  Schedule lunch before recess instead of afterward.  Studies indicate that students eat more after recess.  And I know that noise is an enormous issue in our school and many others.  Noise abatement is important, so that the environment is conducive to eating.

Schools around the country are crafting more innovative and economical ways to produce healthy meals and increase meal participation.  Successes are popping up in Boulder, CO, in Memphis, TN and locally in Baltimore, MD.  Let’s learn from their successes. Overall, 87 percent of large school districts across the country run food services in-house and schools systems are successfully moving away from food service management companies, and looking at innovative ways to cook from scratch, centralize meal production, purchase local fruits and vegetables, and introduce children to healthier foods that taste great.

Our bottom line should be what is best for kids. Clearly that’s high quality food that is fresh, minimally processed, seasonal and local, free of antibiotics and additives, lower in sugar, with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If we don’t invest in this now, then we will be paying for it later in increased healthcare costs.  I look forward to hearing about Council’s plans to further improve school meals and hopefully seeing changes for the better.

I’d also like to add that children will eat healthy foods, including vegetables.  Our school’s Health and Wellness Club has introduced children to many foods they may have never have eaten before- fruit smoothies, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, persimmons, pecans, black beans, plain yogurt, salsa, baked chips, and homemade hot chocolate with much less sugar than in mixes.  I’ve watched the same students make gagging faces at the sight of a squash and then stand in line with twenty other kids for seconds on butternut squash soup.  And we ran out of roasted Brussels sprouts, because the children were eating them like candy.  Many of these kids- and parents, too- had never eaten these foods or thought they didn’t like them. But when parents and kids tried these foods- which were local, seasonal, fresh, and cooked properly- they loved them!

 

Tasty school meals can achieve the same success. Healthy school meals serve an essential role to promote health, wellness, and to introduce new and tasty, healthy foods.  Ideally, the DCPS school breakfast, lunch, supper and snack menus can serve as a guide for parents to model and create healthy meals.  But we need a willing, responsible partner, effective leadership, and strong oversight that places high quality food service and health as the top priorities.  I urge you to reject empty promises from large, for-profit vendors; provide consistent oversight and accountability; ensure that DCPS is prepared to greatly improve oversight and accountability; and engage parents and students in the process in order to do what’s best for the children and taxpayers of the District of Columbia.

DC Council Committee on Education – Oversight Hearings on FY 2014-15

COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

Oversight Hearings on Fiscal Year 2014-2015

The Committee on Education (http://dccouncil.us/committees/committee-on-education) will conduct Performance Oversight Hearings; the following agencies will testify:

Wednesday, 2/18/2015, 10:00am, Room 123

  • Public Charter School Board
  • Bullying Prevention Taskforce
  • Healthy Youth and Schools Commission

Thursday, 2/19/2015, 10:00am, Room 412

  • District of Columbia Public Schools (Public Witnesses Only)

Tuesday, 2/24/2015, 10:00am, Room 500

  • District of Columbia Public Schools (Government Witnesses Only)

Thursday, 3/5/2015, 10:00am, Room 412

  • Office of the State Superintendent of Education
  • State Board of Education

Tuesday, 3/10/2015, 10:00am, Room 123

  • Deputy Mayor for Education
  • District of Columbia Public Library System

Persons wishing to testify about the performance of any of the foregoing agencies may contact: Christina Henderson, chenderson@dccouncil.us, or by calling 202-724-8191.

——————————————-

Thank you to CM Charles Allen’s staff for helping us to keep track of these.