Nov 8, 2011

A Call To Action: Save DC's Schools!

By Candi Peterson

In the midst of upcoming contract negotiations, there are big plans ahead to close our traditional public schools. Never in our history has been there been a greater need for teachers and school personnel to have an effective union. Our very future as educators and the future of our students will be determined by how vigorously we, alongside parents and community members are willing to fight to save our schools.

I invite all Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) members to come out and get involved in our WTU Representative Assembly to be held Tuesday, November 8 from 4:30-6:30 pm. at McKinley Technology Senior High School @ 151 T Street NE. Washington, DC. Let's do more than just give lip service to save our schools.

Earlier this week, The Washington Teacher blog featured an article about future plans to close additional public schools. Below for your perusal I have included an excerpt from the 21st Century School Fund newsletter which outlines the purpose of the Illinois Facility Fund (IFF) study which was commissioned by Deputy Mayor of Education, De'Shawn Wright and is expected to be completed at the end of November. As indicated in the 21st Century School Fund September/October newsletter (below), IFF's analysis is being conducted with plans to right size DC public schools and could lead to reconstitution of our public schools and/or replacement with school management operations. The loss of our public schools is a disinvestment in our school communities and may lead to fewer jobs, higher classrooms sizes, further declining enrollment and extinction of traditional public schools.

Independent public schools budget analyst, Mary Levy has applied IFF's  methods to DCPS and public charter school data. Ms. Levy's analysis has found that schools located in wards with higher socio- economic status are considered to be "performing" while schools in wards with lower socio-economic means are considered to be "non-performing". It is a no brainer, that schools in our poorest wards would likely be faced with closure of traditional public schools while schools in affluent wards like ward 3 would go unscathed. (see map below)

Empower DC, a grassroots community based organization is continuing to hold strategic planning meetings to fight school closures across the city and encourages all to become involved. Their next scheduled meeting will be held on Thursday, November 17 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. @ the Deanwood Recreation Center located at 1350 49th St., NE. For additional information, contact Daniel @ or call 202-234-9119 ext. 104. Please encourage your school community to get involved now before it's too late. Additional meetings will be held throughout the city at later dates.
Study for "Right-Sizing" D.C. Schools Anticipated
"The Deputy Mayor for Education, with a 100,000 dollar grant from the Walton Family Foundation, engaged IFF (Illinois Facility Fund) to study the capacity and performance of DCPS and public charter schools.

IFF has authored reports in Denver, Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Louis, using a defined method to determine what they term "performing" or "non-performing" seats.  This analysis is being done with an eye to "rightsizing" district schools which beyond consolidation could include reconstitution and replacement with school management organizations. 

Mary Levy, independent public school analyst, applied IFF methods to DCPS and public charter school data and found that where "performing seats" are located correlates with household wealth and family income of students.  So that ALL schools in high wealth neighborhoods are "performing" and those in low wealth neighborhoods and with large numbers of children from low income families are "non-performing" with a very few exceptions, as illustrated in a map and data-tables.   The IFF findings are expected to be issued at the end of November.  There has been no public input or discussion solicited on the methods, criteria, or purpose of this study. *Click on the underlined word map to enlarge the DC Wards map.


Cap Lee said...

Essential to saving public schools from the privatizing fiasco is to not only hit the streets in support but to develop a systemic, educational plan that truly respects the intelligence and abilities of all students.

Public schools do well when students do well. And students will never be seen as doing well under the current system of education.

The "test" pulls kids away from their natural talents and forces them into an artificial box full of word games and math riddles.

Public ed will perish unless we develop a system that allows teachers to teach and students to learn. See these books for a jump start.

Candi Peterson said...

Moderated comment to Marvin: There will no longer be a need for teachers and school personnel once these schools are closed. Look back to what happened in 2008. DCPS is not concerned about the budget if they really were- they would first cut some of the administrative bloat & waste and look at other ways to save money which have been proposed on this blog. It is a requirement that the community be a part of this process and less affluent schools not have to lose all of their schools in their communities. This is not about dollar bills this is about gentrification & driving the have nots out of DC's communities.

Comment by Marvin the Wise
Closing is a necessity. We cannot afford to give everyone a "neighborhood school." That is crazy. We are ruining our budget. It will lead to teacher layoffs,

By Marvin the Wise on Closing Time For More DC Public Schools at 12:17 PM

Akees Eriting Unit said...

I agreed with the post and comments here
Public schools do well when students do well tahts the mantra actually
but if look back th history DCPS is not concerned about the budget