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SURVEY: 2020 DC Public Charter School Board Executive Director – Due Feb 5

The next Executive Director of the DC Public Charter School Board will deeply affect the lives of thousands of DC children and families and hundreds of educators in communities across the city. It is a complex, difficult, and important job. We all want an experienced and well-qualified person with the right combination of talent and experience and need your input to determine that balance.

The Ward 7 Education Council has created a survey where citizens across all 8 Wards can weigh on on what they are looking for from the next DC Public Charter School Executive Director.

Please share your thoughts by February 5, 2020 –> https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7XLFQ78

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W6PSPO Meeting Notes – January 21, 2020

W6PSPO Meeting Notes

January 21, 2020

Stuart-Hobson MS

1. Laura Marks (Councilmember Charles Allen’s Chief of Staff), Anne Phelps (DC Budget Office Counsel and Senior Advisor) and Jonathan Antista (Deputy Director for Budget) shared an overview of the DC Council performance and budget oversight process. Please review the following documents:

2. Elizabeth Feinstein with Flavors Hook Kids DC presented information about the risks of flavored tobacco products, and current bills before the City Council that would end the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.

  • Most needed action now is to reach out to Councilmembers and ask: 1 for a markup of the bill to ban flavored tobacco to include the flavors of mint and menthol; 2 fund the bill. Take action here.
  • Learn about vaping-related issues at https://flavorshookkidsdc.org/. Contact Elizabeth Feinstone to get involved in local, DC advocacy.

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Next W6PSPO Meeting: February 18, 2020, 6:30-8pm, Location TBD

Upcoming Events

From February 3-7, Teaching for Change’s DC Area Educators for Social Justice, local organizers, and community members will collaborate for the DC Area Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action. The Black Livers Matter at School Week of Action seeks to improve the school experience for students of color. Throughout the week there are evening events and resources are offered to teach about structural racism, intersectional Black identities, Black history, and anti-racist movements. More information is available at http://bit.ly/BLMatSchoolDC2020.

Upcoming Hearings – Sign up early to testify and double-check date here (dates change)

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W6PSPO Meeting Notes – November 19, 2019

Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization (W6PSPO) Meeting Notes

November 19, 2019

Miner ES

1.Sharing PTA/PTO Best Practices – PTA/PTO Meetings Panel/Open Discussion

David Treat and Julie Muir – Miner Elementary, Elsa Faulkenberg – Tyler Elementary, Lona Valmora – Capitol Hill Cluster School

We kicked this series off with a discussion on PTO meetings. Find our notes here. We’ll continue adding to this series at https://w6pspo.org/pto-best-practices/.

2. Campaign for Lead-free water – proposed rule from EPA re; lead and copper is looking for a 60 day extension of public comment period. Asking if W6PSPO will sign-on for extension to March 13 2020 that will go to EPA and OMB. Attendees voted to sign-on

3.  Discussion with the Washington Teachers Union on SY2020/21 Budget Priorities

Priority 1: Fund DC Schools.

Despite an increase in Mayor Bowser’s education budget for FY2020, 20 public schools, including 17 schools in Wards 7 and 8, saw significant budget cuts for the current school year. Overall funding for DCPS did not keep up with rising costs, leading to cuts in many schools.

    • Increased Investment – Meet 2013 Adequacy Levels

In 2013, the District Government commissioned an Adequacy Study calling for per pupil expenditures of $11,628.( In November 2019, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education awarded grant to Afton Partners, LLC to conduct a study of the UPSFF.) We need to reach, if not exceed, this amount in the FY2021 budget and for the first time fully funding our schools. The proposed FY 2020 budget increased the UPSFF base by 2.2 percent, from $10,658 to $10,891 per-student.

    •   Closing the Opportunity Gaps – Spending of At-Risk Dollars

Achievement gaps across nearly all subgroups measured by NAEP have not changed or have grown since 2002/2003. The NAEP scores mirror results on the city’s PARCC tests. The PARCC scores show steady, albeit slow, growth across most demographic groups. However, once again, we see achievement gaps growing. Research is clear that increased spending can, when combined with other reforms, help close achievement gaps, but in DC the funds have not reached the students who are in greatest need.

    • Special Education – Increased supplemental funding.

The District of Columbia continues to fail DC students with special needs. The US Department of Education labeled DC as “needs” assistance” in implementing federal requirements of Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Additional funding will allow DC Public Schools to reduce special education class sizes and increase the planning time allowed for Special Education Teachers.

 

Priority 2. Living & Learning Conditions.

If we care about children, we have to improve all the conditions that affect them.’ 

    •   Trauma Informed Practices & Screening

When trauma goes unchecked and is sustained, it can disrupt a child’s brain development, interfering with functions children depend on in school such as memory recall, focus and impulse control. In a trauma-informed school, the adults in the school community are prepared to recognize and respond to those who have been impacted by traumatic stress. To ensure adequate staffing, we need more information on the experiences of our students and propose that the city screens every student for trauma and uses the findings to ensure adequate staffing.

Priority 3. One Set of Rules for All Schools.

Regardless of where a student attends school, she is entitled to the same rights as a student, including transparency and adherence to all local laws.

 

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W6PSPO Meets January 21 & Updates

Dear Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization members,

1. The W6PSPO will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 21, from 6:30 – 8 pm at Stuart Hobson Middle School (410 E St., NE) in the choir/theater room. Laura Marks and Anne Phelps will give us an overview of the DC Council performance and budget oversight process. Also, Elizabeth Feinstein with Flavors Hook Kids DC will present information about the risks of flavored tobacco products, and current bills before the City Council that would end the sale of e-cigarettes.

2. On January 23, there will be a Welcoming for All? Getting to Inclusive Schools Through Policies and Practice event at VanNess Elementary, 1150 5th St., SE, 6 – 8 pm. You can register for the event at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/welcoming-for-all-getting-to-inclusive-schools-through-policy-practice-tickets-86861389755

3. On January 25, the Multilingual Education Fair of DC will take place at Roosevelt High School, 4301 13th St., NW, 10 am – 3 pm. You can register for this event at https://www.mefdc.org/register/. See attached media kit.

4. From February 3-7, Teaching for Change’s DC Area Educators for Social Justice, local organizers, and community members will collaborate for the DC Area Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action. The Black Livers Matter at School Week of Action seeks to improve the school experience for students of color. Throughout the week there are evening events and resources are offered to teach about structural racism, intersectional Black identities, Black history, and anti-racist movements. More information is available at http://bit.ly/BLMatSchoolDC2020.

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W6PSPO Updates

Dear Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization members,

Below are updates to share with your school communities:

1. EdFest is this Saturday, December 14, 2019, at the Stadium Armory from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Good luck to all of you as you get the opportunity to share what makes your schools special.

2. DCPS will be opening the Stevens Early Learning Center at the historic Thaddeus Stevens School building (1050 21st St., NW) for SY20/21. This will be the city’s first citywide (no boundary) PK3/PK4 program. There will be a priority preference for at-risk families. You can learn more about the Stevens Early Learning Center at EdFest.

3. The Committee of the Whole and the Committee on Education will hold a public oversight hearing on updates to the Master Facilities Plan (MFP) on December 18, 2019. Testimony at the hearing is being limited to invited witnesses, and W6PSPO was invited to testify. Sandra Moscoso-Mills will deliver W6PSPO’s testimony. We plan to include the following in the testimony:

a. The importance of the MFP being guided by the principle that the city is responsible for providing facilities for our by-right public education system;

b. The continuing need for School Improvement Teams (SIT) to be partners with DCPS and DGS, and for the SIT to have genuine opportunities to provide input in a timely manner so the input can be considered in the design process;

c. The continuing need to address adequately environmental issues like lead in water during major renovations;

d. The importance of considering renewable energy generation as part of every school renovation in the city;

e. Questions about how swing space is funded;

f. Express reservations about co-location of charter schools on the site of existing DCPS facilities; and

g. Encourage planning to ensure priority access to field space on school property for all DCPS students.

If you have other thoughts on this testimony, please contact Sandra Moscoso-Mills at smoscosomills@hotmail.com.

4. DCPS is shifting to STEMscopes as its primary science curricular in SY19-20 (see attached). If there is a parent interested in following the rollout of the STEMscopes for W6PSPO, please let me know.

5. There will NOT be a W6PSPO meeting in December. The last thing any of you need during this busy time of the year is another meeting. W6PSPO will be back in full swing for its January 21 meeting.

Suzanne Wells

Science Overview K-5 SY19-20.pdf

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ShawMS@Banneker community meeting – Sunday 11/24/18 at 2pm

Neighbors –
On behalf of the parent-led ShawMS@Banneker group, I am writing to invite you to our community meeting this coming Sunday, November 24th, at 2pm at the Thurgood Marshall Center (1816 12th St NW). Shaw@B is a group of parents formed to engage with DCPS and the community around the planning process for a Shaw Middle School at the Banneker site, with the goal of having students in 800 Euclid St NW as soon as possible, potentially as early as the fall of 2021 (when current 4th graders would be in 6th grade).
At this meeting:
  • we will present the background on Shaw@B,
  • host a presentation by Cardozo EC Principal Arthur Mola on the current middle school program at Cardozo, and discuss how the community can support his school,
  • dig into the result of our survey of parents on their aspirations regarding educational programming for middle schoolers, and
  • discuss next steps.
We hope you can join us!
Becky Reina
Cleveland ES parent

Sarah Wolf Testimony – DCPS SY2021 Budget Hearing

Sarah Wolf, Peabody Elementary School 

Testimony to the DCPS Public Budget Hearing, October 29, 2019

Good evening Chancellor Ferebee and Deputy Chancellor Maisterra

My name is Sarah Wolf and I am the parent of a kindergarten student at Peabody Elementary School. I have been a DC resident since 2003 and currently live in Ward 6. I am also a member of the Peabody School Improvement Team, which was set up in September 2019 to address safety and maintenance concerns on the school playground.

Peabody is the early education campus of the Capitol Hill Cluster School in Ward 6. It educates 226 students in grades PK3, PK4 and Kindergarten. Peabody is a diverse school that draws students primarily from the Capitol Hill neighborhood: 81 percent of students attending are in-boundary. Eight percent of students are economically disadvantaged and five percent have special needs.

In 2018, when our son Roman was offered a PK4 spot at Peabody through the DCPS lottery we were delighted. Peabody prides itself on providing a joyful learning environment for kids ages 3-6 years old. The school is a bright, cheerful place decorated with kids’ artwork, the teachers are kind, and the program provides a gentle introduction to school life. My son loves it.

So, you can imagine my shock on the first day of school, at dismissal, to see Peabody staff attempting to drive out of their parking spaces in a playground full of little children. The situation struck me as potentially dangerous and not at all in keeping with the safe, supportive learning environment that Peabody endeavors to provide.

Over the course of the last and this academic year, I, along with other parents, have witnessed many close calls between kids and cars. The school has a policy of “honk and freeze.” The teachers honk their horns, the kids are supposed to freeze. However, we have seen kids completely ignore the honk and instead of freezing, run straight towards the moving car. We have witnessed kids obey the honk and freeze but freeze behind a car that is backing up. We have seen 10-12 cars that are double parked, maneuver through a busy playground with parents and caregivers trying to direct traffic and kids still run in front of cars. We have helped cars to back up, only to see a three year old on a tricycle ride behind the cars. In all cases, accidents were avoided due to the efforts of parents and drivers working together to keep kids safe. But other times, it was pure luck that the child running behind the car did not get hit. These close calls are too frequent and put our children in an unnecessarily risky situation. 

Playgrounds were established to provide a safe place for kids to play that is free from cars. I cannot believe that if the city were designing a new playground today, they would place cars within it with no barriers or fencing to separate the kids. The Mayor’s Vision Zero Initiative seeks to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities involving pedestrians. I find it inconsistent that the city focuses on pedestrian safety on the way to and from school, but once at the school site, there are no such safety or traffic measures in place.

In addition to parents worrying about keeping their kids safe from cars, the playground itself has become over the years, unsafe. There are three main problems that are leading to injuries including scrapes, bruises and broken bones.

  1. The playground surfacing includes blacktop, poured rubber and wood chips. The blacktop and poured rubber have uneven surfaces, gaps and sinkholes, and provides insufficient padding in some places, especially under ladders. A week ago, a Peabody parent reported that her four year old daughter tripped on the surfacing and fell onto the corner of a picnic table getting a black eye. The same week, a four year old Peabody boy fell off a ladder and badly scraped his forehead. Another Peabody parent says her PK3 and Kindergarten kids come home almost every day with scrapes on knees and elbows from falling on the blacktop.

  2. The playground equipment is between 15-25 years old and no longer meets current safety standards. One structure in particular (orange/blue) is not age appropriate for students who are three and four years old — who are the majority of Peabody students.

    According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Public Playground Safety Handbook, monkey bars are not intended for children ages three or younger, and for children ages four and above, the structure should be no higher than 60 inches. The Peabody monkey bars are 77 inches in height. A Peabody parent reports that in 2017 her four year old daughter fell off the monkey bars and fractured her elbow. A three year old boy also fell off the same monkey bars and had severe bruising. His mother says the only reason he didn’t break his arm was because he is such a tall and heavy child. The same handbook says sliding poles should not be used in playgrounds for preschool students. The Peabody playground has three sliding poles measuring between 85-100 inches in height. In 2017, a five year old boy fell off the pole and broke his elbow in two places. He had to be hospitalized and had three pins inserted into his arm.

  3. In addition to the equipment not meeting current safety standards, the equipment itself is old and not well maintained. The coating on the play structures is peeling off, exposing rust and creating sharp edges that poke into kids’ hands. For awhile, yellow safety tape was put up on the chain climbers. It seems to have been removed yet the sharp edges remain.

In summary, the playground is in need of an overhaul.

In 2013, Peabody received funding for Phase 1 Modernization under the 10-year DCPS School Modernization Plan. The Education Spec included renovating floors and ceilings, improving lighting and electrical, and upgrading IT, water lines, service lines and HVAC systems. The playground was not included.

I understand that DCPS has abandoned the phased modernization process and now uses the PACE model to prioritize schools for modernization. Given Peabody’s current rank of #30 (out of 32) on the modernization priority list, we would not receive full modernization funding until at least 2024 but likely many years later as there are higher priority schools. However, I am aware that outside of modernization funding, there is a city-wide Capital Improvement Plan as well as stabilization funding available to address repairs of school buildings and athletic fields.

One solution to the car safety problem would be to create a daytime school parking zone under the law that was passed last year. We are working with our ANC Commissioner and gathering data to submit a formal request. Another solution is to redesign the Peabody site to include separate spaces for cars to park and for kids to play. There also needs to be an interim solution that does not rely on children ages 3-6 to be always conscious of cars. The playground is supposed to be space for kids to play, exercise their bodies, and stretch their imaginations without worrying about moving cars. We cannot wait for an accident to happen.

I, representing the Peabody community, urge the Education Chancellor to address the Peabody safety concerns in the next DCPS budget.