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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
Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization
Maury Elementary School Library
6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
1) At-large City Council Candidates Forum (Charles Allen, Councilmember Wells’ Chief of Staff)
- In April, District voters will elect an at-large City Councilmember in a special election for a two-year term.
- Eliot-Hine would like to host a student-led candidates’ forum focused on education and youth issues.
- Idea is to get students to organize the candidates’ forum, e.g., invite the candidates, find a moderator, advertise the forum, etc.
- Joe Weeden offered that Defeat Poverty DC would be a co-sponsor. CHPSPO offered to co-sponsor.
- Suzanne Wells offered to let Principals Clemens (Capitol Hill Cluster School/Stuart Hobson Middle School) and Gordon (Jefferson Academy) know about the forum to see if there might be opportunities for their students to participate.
- Charles Allen offered to put together a timeline leading up to the forum.
2) DCPS Lottery Communications (Alaina Smith, DCPS, Office of Strategic Enrollment Initiatives)
- Encourage parents to attend open houses
- Encourage schools to list open houses on DCPS open house list
- Lottery is open Jan 28-Feb 25. Entering early does not mean better chance of getting in.
- BIG CHANGES to waitlist and registration processes. See this year’s guide.
- Lottery website: https://lottery.dcps.dc.gov/
3) DCPS Library Task Force update
- Questions around how recommendations to be implemented, e.g., per pupil funding?
- Task force recommendations here.
3) Presentation on Maury’s game lending library (Vanessa Ford, Maury Think Tank Teacher)
- Think Tank and Science Expo on January 24, 6-7:30PM at Maury Elementary School
- Game lending library at Maury is open to all families in the community. Many families have expressed positive feedback. Games serve as a way to engage children around math, science, problem-solving, cooperation.
- Maury received a grant from the Capitol Hill Community Foundation to start the game lending library.
- Think Tank Blog: http://maurythinktank.blogspot.com/
4) Discussion of 2013 CHPSPO Priorities (tabled till next month) – see last year’s priorities here: http://chpspo.org/2012/01/19/chpspo-meeting-notes-january-12-2012/
5) CHPSPO 501(c)3 (Sherry Trafford) (tabled till next month)
- Bank account is open
- CHPSPO has been incorporated
- Almost there for 501c3
Next CHPSPO Meeting: February 19, 2013
- January 22, 2013, 5:30 p.m., Jefferson Academy Open House
- January 22, 2013, 6 p.m., Ward 6 IB presentation, Westminster Presbyterian Church
- January 22, 2013, 6:30-8:30PM, SHAPPE Meeting, Phelps Senior High School – discussing the impact of the recently announced DCPS school closures on the city’s high schools. CM Wells is guest.
- Lots of other open houses coming up – check here for dates: http://dc.gov/DCPS/Learn+About+Schools/Step+1+-+Get+Ready/Open+Houses
- January 29, 6:30 pm, Living Room Chat with Principal Tynika Young for 2nd grade families
DC Public Schools’ final consolidation plan was announced on January 17.
What does this mean for CHPSPO schools?
Tommy Wells commends Chancellor Henderson and highlights direct impact to Ward 6 schools and invites the public to attend Chancellor Henderson’s briefing to the Council’s Committee on Education about her “School Consolidation Plan of 2013” on Wednesday January 23 at noon in Room 412 (Wilson Building).
Do you see other impact? How does this impact your school?
Jeffrey Mills was unfairly fired yesterday (January 14) by DCPS in spite of his success, determination and hard work to overhaul school meals, demand accountability from contractors and move toward a more efficient, cost effective, and healthier food program for DC kids.
DO YOU THINK DC KIDS DESERVE BETTER???
I do- contact DC Council to express your concern over Jeff’s firing, your support for his efforts, and ask what Council will do to follow up on their efforts to address the million dollar deficts racked by by the contractor Chartwells and to get Jeff in a place where he can really do his job. Councilmember David Catania is the chair of the education committee and Erika Wadlington- firstname.lastname@example.org is the lead staff on the issue.
Also call the member who represents your Ward!
by Joe Weedon, Maury ES Superparent
I wanted to provide everyone with a quick recap of last night’s meeting with Chancellor Henderson about DCPS’s proposal to close/consolidate schools across the District.
Last night’s gathering brought together a standing room only group of parents, teachers and students from Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. The discussion followed the lines of the other forums held last week in Wards 5, 7 and 8. The Chancellor gave brief opening remarks and then small group discussions began. There were DCPS employees taking notes from each small group that will be compiled and presented to the Chancellor. The Chancellor also made her way around the room to observe and listen in on the small group conversations. The groups did report out at the end of the meeting.
The main messages coming from the crowd largely revolved around saving individual schools, questions about why different schools were included and requests for information from DCPS on what their plan is to facilitate the consolidations – ie, will teachers be offered jobs, will there be busing, will there be extra staff to aid in the consolidation. At the end of the day, I believe the consensus was that DCPS is moving too fast. Additionally, there is strong sentiment that DCPS needs to provide more clear information about the criteria for selecting schools, the projected cost savings, and a strategy for reinvesting the funds. Additionally, questions were raised about why the closing/consolidation process is being conducted separately from the redrawing of boundaries (which is expected to take place next year). A final point was a great concern that DCPS and the Public Charters are operating independently without any coordination… the public charters plan to open several new schools this fall raising the question of whether or not DCPS should close more schools or whether a moratorium should be placed on additional openings/closings until there is a central vision and plan for our school system.
Specifically for Ward 6…. It was disappointing to be included with residents from Wards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. While the chancellor said she was looking for new ideas and outside the box thinking, the size of the meeting and the limited focus on issues directly impacting us in Ward 6 prevented this. Overall, the representatives from Eastern HS did a great job of expressing concerns about the movement of Spingarm students into their school, though it may have been lost in the overall chaos of the evening. I mis-spoke earlier in the week, one Ward 6 school – Prospect Early Learning Center – is slated to be closed; however, it was not brought up last night and it appears there is limited concern about integrating students from Prospect into their community schools.
The path forward…
We need to ensure that Eastern HS is supported fully in the integration of any new students. Eastern’s culture and curriculum are significantly different from that at Spingarm. Long-term, the inclusion of new feeder schools into Eastern is also significantly problematic. Eastern’s ideal capacity is approximately 1100-1200 (I over estimated based on outdated documents in my note earlier this week). That means they expect to have approximately 250 – 300 freshman each year. With nearly 500 3rd graders already in the Eastern feeder pattern, we cannot sustain a school where more individual students have a ‘right’ to attend.
Visit this link – http://www.engagedcps.org/ – to urge DCPS to slow the process, to ensure that feeder pattern realignment is done in conjunction with school closings.
Thanks for your support of our schools.
For Tweets from the same meeting, see the CHPSPO Storify.