Remarks by Danica Petroshius
October 23, 2020
Good afternoon. My name is Danica Petroshius and I am a parent of two children at a DCPS school that serves students from every Ward, with the highest percentage of students residing in Wards 5-8. We are a strong school community built on:
- Community created by our families and educators now and those that came before us;
- our diversity; and
- our willingness to work together on solutions.
Building community and trust in schools is hard, daily work – but it is the secret sauce that keeps our schools moving forward and improving.
The Mayor’s plan fails us. It breaks a critical formula for public school success – it tries to divide communities instead of bringing them together. The Council has followed suit by denying parents and educators the opportunity to testify on the record about our concerns.
I stand here today on behalf of parents across our city that support our teachers.
Families have different needs and perspectives on when and how schools should reopen. I respect and appreciate all of those perspectives. But I have overwhelmingly heard that despite our different needs and perspectives, parents want to first and foremost support our teachers because:
We value communities where teachers and parents work together.
We value rich academic learning that happens because of our teachers.
We value the relationships our students and teachers have created that build the social, emotional well-being that our students need – more now than ever.
We value the additional supports that every adult in our school buildings provide for our students from our custodians to counselors to librarians to social workers to classroom assistants to coaches to our school leaders.
We value the need for mental health supports in our schools – a need that has only gotten more acute during the pandemic.
We value full transparency of standards and evidence of the highest protocols of health and safety.
We value equity – and that includes more creativity than the current binary solutions offered. We know that this limited notion of in-person or virtual will not meet the needs of students where virtual is not working, but families are also at high risk of COVID.
And we value the health and safety of every adult, child and family in our schools.
City leadership failed to deliver on every point. Just last night, the Chancellor sent an email to parents that purposefully tries to mislead parents into thinking that teachers are bought into this plan.
Let’s be clear: at no point does it say the magic words: “We have come to an agreement with our teachers on how to move forward.”
City leaders do not share our values by trying to mislead us and leave teachers out of decision-making.
City leaders do not share our values by trying to pit families against educators.
City leaders do not share our values by prioritizing disruption over relationships.
City leaders do not share our values by prioritizing rushed solutions over solutions that will meet the needs of our students.
City leaders do not share our values by prioritizing secrecy and spin over transparency and evidence.
The lack of shared values is speaking louder to parents than the rhetoric by DCPS and the Mayor.
Parents feel the disruption, the silence instead of asking parents what they need, and the lack of teacher engagement baked into this half-baked plan.
When you don’t co-create with teachers, you lose parent trust.
City leaders should develop a plan that is co-developed with teachers, minimizes disruption to what is working now, and responds to real information about what every family needs – especially those where both in-person and virtual do not work well.
Finally, let’s be real. This has happened before and it’s happening again only with more dire consequences. Too often, families and schools are left carrying the burden of bad decision-making. It is us who will fix this for you, again and again, whether you ask us or not. We will not walk away from our children and we will not walk away from our schools. We remain here, right here, waiting and fixing, for you to hear us and care.