Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization
January 19, 2016, 6:30-8:00 PM – Tyler Elementary School
1- BALLOT INITIATIVE PROPOSAL, Peter MacPherson
Peter MacPherson is concerned that there is not an avenue for community and voter engagement in the educational decision making since Mayoral takeover in 2007. He presented his idea for a ballot initiative that he plans to file that would create an elected school board that would appoint the superintendent, move OSSE oversight under the state board of education, and create an ombudsman for education. The charter school board would be abolished and those duties assigned to the new elected school board (see attached proposal).
The process of getting a new initiative on the ballot includes a review by the Board of Elections, then a hearing, a comment period, and a drive to get enough signatures to be able to put it on the ballot. It could be on the November election ballot if it is filed soon and the process moves forward and enough signatures are collected.
Members in attendance had multiple questions including questions about feasibility; messaging; reaction of the general public, media and charter school advocates; its comprehensive nature vs a first-step smaller measure; and implications of the conversation that comes out of such an effort – will it be a conversation that moves us forward or divides us as a community that cares about education.
There has been an evaluation of mayoral control that can be a helpful resource when considering this proposal.
CHPSPO as an organization did not decide to support or oppose this initiative. Members agreed to continue to consider it.
2 – WILSON BUILDING VISITS – Ivan Frishberg
As a follow up to the December Wilson Building meetings, Ivan Frishberg is working with the Deputy Mayor of Education (DME) on scheduling a meeting for CHPSPO members at her offices. We will also explore an additional meeting with the Chief of Staff for the Mayor after we meet with the DME.
Priority topics of interest for us are school modernization, middle school funding and the cross-sector task force. We need to increase our visibility as advocates and a great time to start is now. We need to encourage the mayor to increase funding for schools and school modernization in her FY17 budget proposal that she is developing now. The Mayor is making decisions now that could lead to funding other capital projects and cutting school modernization budgets.
It’s important that we continue to use our collective voice on issues of concern to all of Ward 6 and the entire city. We are louder if we act with one voice – and for now put aside our individual school issues. If the funding “pie” is bigger, we all benefit. If it’s smaller, we all lose.
Encourage your parent communities to call and email not to cut, but increase, the modernization budgets and school funding overall. Ivan created the attached flyer that members can share with PTA meetings or on listservs.
3 – EMPOWERING MALES HIGH SCHOOL – Dr. Ben Williams
Dr. Williams, new principal of the newly forming “Empowering Males High School,” spoke to the CHPSPO meeting. The school will take applicants through the My School DC lottery system. Any rising 9th grade male in the city can apply to the school through My School DC. The program is a college preparatory school based on Pre Advanced Placement and Advanced Placement (AP). The vision is to target young men and prepare them to be successful men in college, career and life. Teachers and administrators will be trained on cultural relevancy and strategies for maximizing learning in an all-male school. The school will be located at the old Roper School (Old Ron Brown School) in Ward 7. The school will open with the first class of 150 students in August 2016 and will add another class of 150 students each year until there are 600 students in the school. Not all teachers and administrators will be male. Students will be required to be in an afterschool activity – sports or other activity. CHPSPO members had good questions for Dr. Williams including:
What other high schools are in Ward 7 and 8? In Ward 7 there is one other high school and in Ward 8 there are two other high schools – Ballou, Anacostia, and Woodson.
What teacher supports are there? Many of the teachers are young and not from DC. Teachers will get professional development and we will do all we can to prepare them and support them as we open the school.
What is the student teacher ratio? We are trying to get support to reduce student to adult ratio. We don’t know what it will be right now. The minimum we would want is 25:1.
What is the process for modernization? The school is kicking off its modernization now and it will be a phased modernization. They will renovate part of the school this summer and then in a few years, they will finish the modernization.
Washington Leadership Academy will open at the same time as your school – a new school approved by the charter board. Have you been coordinating with them? We have not been talking to them. We support options for students so everyone finds the right school.
We have some concerns about creating new high schools when we have under-enrolled high schools and tight modernization and school funding budgets for current schools. I want this to be an excellent school. I hope by creating an excellent school for DCPS that DCPS will benefit by retaining students.
Who are you targeting? This is a non-criteria school and I would like it to be a very diverse student body. We invite everyone to apply.
What do you envision as your school culture? Professional and businesslike. The students will be in jackets, shirts and ties. I want them to own their education and own their school. The adults in the building will be there supporting them and helping them grow.
4. CHPSPO 2016 PRIORITIES DISCUSSION
Note: We did not have time to get to this part of the agenda given the rich discussion throughout the night. We will have this issue on the February agenda.