WANTED: Cute DC Kids and Their Parents for White House Project

Are you a DC parent, looking for a school for your 3 year old, middle school or high school student? Have you found a terrific elementary school, but worried about middle school?
We want to hear from you as part of a volunteer-run project we hope to showcase at the White House, at the end of July.A team of civic hackers (volunteer data scientists, programmers, and parents) are working through Code for DC (http://codefordc.org/) to help DC families with understanding the school landscape. We are working with DC school officials to publish information about schools, and answer questions like: are there children enrolled in this school that live in my neighborhood? where are the children from my child’s elementary school going to middle school? We will add more information, as we collect additional information about DC schools that goes beyond standardized testing performance (see a preview of the first version below).

How can you participate today? Help us make a video to get the attention of the folks at the White House, so our project can be included at a showcase. By Thursday, June 20, send us a 20-30 second video (via dropbox, to: Elena Chiriboga  <elc64 at georgetown dot edu>) with you or your children (or both), capturing any of the following:

  • You, in front of something recognizable in your neighborhood (like Anacostia river, Brookland Metro station, Cathedral- whatever makes sense) saying: “Where do the children in my neighborhood go to (Elementary, or Middle, or High) school?”
  • You/your children in front of something recognizable in your neighborhood (like Anacostia river, Brookland Metro station, Cathedral- whatever makes sense) saying: “We live in [XXX neighborhood]!”
  • You, at your child’s school saying: “I love my children’s elementary school, but I’m confused about where to send them to middle school”
  • Your child, in front of something recognizable in your neighborhood saying: “I want to go to school where my neighborhood friends go!”
  • Your child, at their school saying: “My favorite part of school is….”
A few tips:
  • To capture the best sound quality, you have to stand reasonably close to the subject (especially since kids don’t always have the loudest voice). Stand about 1-2 feet away from the subject. Try for a shot that is from the chest up. Playback the video after your first recording to make sure the sound isn’t blown out or peaking. If you’re far away from your subject the volume will probably playback very low and boosting it in editing software will only increase all the white noise.
  • Try to limit background noise when the subject is speaking.
  • Always have the light behind you.
  • B-roll can be really tricky with a phone because people tend to move around the phone really quickly when recording. It’s better to be still and have the objects in your frame moving than for you to be panning with your phone.
  • Send along a few photos, too, which we will mix in with the video.
Be sure to tell us your first name, and your child’s first name and age and how best to reach you, to share the final video, which will be included in our White House submission.
Thank you in advance from the Code for DC Education Project Team!

Open Data Day and DC Education – Open Letter to Mayor Gray‏ by Sandra Moscoso

by Sandra Moscoso


Dear Mayor Gray –

I’m reaching out on behalf of all Washington DC families, who love living in this city and are committed to making the public education system(s) work for our children and for our communities.

Recognizing that while the DCPS and Charter school systems offer a variety of options around public education, as a city, DC has not quite managed to gain the confidence of residents nor has it been able to portray the options as good ones. As a parent navigating the public education landscape, I find it difficult to separate what the schools (and systems) want me to see from feedback I receive through my own networks. Factor in our own fears and biases, and it becomes even more difficult to see the options clearly.

While we should all be educated consumers of education, I cannot imagine that you intend for every family to have to go through extensive research each time our children hit a transition point in their academic careers (at PS/K, at Elementary, at Middle School, at High School)? Yet, as things stand, for many families, to find the right school requires research and winning the lottery. This creates a situation that further disenfranchises families who cannot afford this investment of time or who do not have access to networks that would enable them to pursue the best options for their children.

The choices exist and given success in many pockets, how to make this process more manageable? I believe this answers comes from you and commitments you have made toward transparency and your support of technology and innovation.

I am writing to challenge you to join a community of civic activists, by asking the Office of the School Superintendent of Education (OSSE) open up education data this week. Why this week? On Saturday and Sunday, DC will participate in International Open Data Day, by holding a 1 (correction) day hackathon at the World Bank. Over 260 civic hackers (technologists and activists) have signed up to volunteer their time and talents for social good.

Among the projects, there will be a local education theme. Several DC parents will attend, to share ideas on how they think education-related problems can be solved through technology. There will be experts in the problem, there will be experts in technology solutions, what we’re missing is the data.
Mayor Gray, you have an incredible opportunity to connect your pledge of transparency in a way that can help leverage the talents of the tech community.  To collaborate with average people committed to working with DC government in an effort to make our city (and it’s services) great

Recognizing that pulling data could take time, I am asking that OSSE focus on data that has been made public via recent reports or online databases. The difference between public and open is that when the data is open, it is in it’s raw format and reusable (this means no PDFs or PPT slides – excel spreadsheets at a minimum).

Below are datasets that should be easily available given the above conditions, and that do not in any way put student confidentiality at risk.

  1. Raw data from OSSE’s statewide student mobility study – broken down to the school and grade levels (http://osse.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/osse/release_content/attachments/DC%20Student%20Mobility%20Study%20%28Feb%202013%29.pdf )
  2. DC CAS School by School Results – this is great (in xlsx), but can it be broken down to grade level?http://osse.dc.gov/release/mayor-vincent-c-gray-announces-2012-dc-cas-results
  3. ALL DCPS and CHARTER Lottery Results for the past 5 (or more) years, including waitlist numbers at SCHOOL and GRADE levels.
    • Recognizing DCPS lottery became centralized in 2008? then as long as it is available. Recognizing that all waitlists are managed at the school level, then I realize we’re not likely to get how far down waitlist schools got each year.
  4. All DCPS and Charter location data: Files that were used to create the following: http://www.dcpubliccharter.com/PerformanceTier.aspx and http://profiles.dcps.dc.gov/
  5. All DCPS and Charter capacity and enrollment at SCHOOL and GRADE levels .
  6. All DCPS and Charter Tier level data
  7. All DCPS and Charter Title I schools
  8. All DCPS and Charter school student demographics; race, special ed for past 5 years.
  9. For all DCPS and Charter schools, whether they have a music teacher, art teacher and librarian, and if so, whether full or part-time and credentials.
  10. All DCPS and Charter teacher retention rates at the school and grade levels.
  11. All DCPS and Charter special programming: (Montessori, Reggio, STEM focus, Global Studies, IB, etc)
  12. A dataset of all children (identified as Student00000X or whatever makes sense) who have been enrolled in a charter or DCPS for the past 5 years (at least). Am guessing children can be cross-referenced by their name, address and age in order to follow them between DCPS/Charters. For each record,
    • Student ID (see made up suggestion)
    • School Year
    • Neighborhood the student lives in (example: Adams Morgan, Capitol Hill, Hillcrest)
    • School the student is enrolled in
    • Grade the student is enrolled in

Getting all of the above datasets for this weekend would be optimal, but certainly some will be easier to get than others in a short timeline.

For data that cannot be made available by this weekend, it would still be great to have them, as there is a team committed to working on this on the longer term via http://codefordc.org/ (the DC chapter of Code for America).

Thank you in advance for your support of DC families and civic activists. I hope you join us over the weekend to see the amazing work that can come when average people commit to supporting their community (regardless of whether that community is a local or global one).


Sandra Moscoso

Proud DCPS parent, average person

To: vincent.gray@dc.gov

cc: kaya.henderson@dc.gov, jennifer.leonard@dc.gov, pmendelson@dccouncil.us, dcatania@dccouncil.us,twells@dccouncil.us, jevans@dccouncil.us, yalexander@dccouncil.us, mbarry@dccouncil.us,mbowser@dccouncil.us, jgraham@dccouncil.us, kmcduffie@dccouncil.us, vorange@dccouncil.us,dgrosso@dccouncil.us, mcheh@dccouncil.us, abonds@dccouncil.us, osse.superintendent@dc.gov,tauberer@govtrack.us