Sandra Moscoso Testimony
Committee on Education’s public roundtable on PR23-0067, the “Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee Confirmation Resolution of 2019.”
February 6 at 6:00 P.M. at Francis L. Cardozo Education Campus
Good evening, Chairpersons and Councilmembers. I am Sandra Moscoso, the parent of a 7th grader at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan and 10th grader at School Without Walls. I am also a long-time member of the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization, which has served as the Ward 6 education council for 14 years.
During our time with DCPS and also DC Charter Schools my family has seen one superintendent and six acting-interim-chancellors at the helm. I share this as a reminder that my children are in the end, the beneficiaries or victims of your decisions, but also a reminder that most of us are here not as watch dogs, but rather, for the long haul. We come in peace, as community members seeking to collaborate with you and DCPS to strengthen our schools.
I have attached an excerpt from a letter released June 2018 by the Coalition for DC Public Schools & Communities to reiterate what CHPSPO supports in a Chancellor.
Today, I will focus on transparency, advocacy, and institutional commitments.
I have heard Acting Chancellor Ferebee cite transparency as the way to build trust. This is heartening, but it’s important we have a shared understanding of what transparency means. To me, this means transparent decision-making, creating opportunities for families and school educators to weigh in on decisions, and it means transparency around the data, facts, and evidence upon which decisions are made. Today, there is a very active conversation about transparency in charter schools. DCPS is ahead here and has the opportunity to continue to lead, by publishing decision-useful data in open formats. I will plug data.dc.gov as the perfect home for now.
On advocating for DC Public Schools, I say – join us! Las month was “School Choice Week” and this reminds me there is a huge lobby effort supporting DC charters. This does not exist for DCPS. Neighborhood schools are also schools of choice. It has been a source of frustration for families who spend blood, sweat and tears supporting our local schools to have efforts undermined by glossy marketing campaigns. For years, we have pushed for DCPS to leverage built-in strengths like geographic communities, feeder pattern communities, and multi-generational alumni networks. After years of leaving these feeder relationships up to schools, in Ward 6, we’re finally starting to see feeder-wide events and open houses supported by DCPS. I hope this type of support will continue and grow.
Finally, I want to talk about institutional commitments. Early in this testimony I shared the number of DCPS leaders my family and community have engaged with. As you can imagine we have all been through many many visioning sessions, where we have been asked what we want from our schools. I think by now, our city has a good sense of what the community wants and this is captured at a high level in the DCPS Strategic Plan for 2017-2022. I ask Council to hold DCPS’ Chancellor to this commitment and to please not start over. Dr. Ferebee comes to DC having developed a network of innovation schools. I hope he will take the time to get to know our schools and recognize the local, on-the ground innovation that takes place every day. I hope he will not be tempted to push schools to run after externally mandated shiny things at the expense of honoring DCPS’ commitments.
Thank you for this opportunity.