Marion Babcock Testimony – Special Committee COVID-19 Recovery and COW Hearing: DC Ed After COVID-19 – May 26, 2021

Special Committee on COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery

and the

Committee of the Whole

Joint Public Oversight Hearing

The District’s Public Education System After the COVID-19 Pandemic

May 26, 2021

I speak to you today as a parent and the LSAT co-chair at the School Without Walls High School to address the staggering needs and the logistics that a successful return to DCPS schools will require.

This upcoming year will be the third school year in which DCPS leadership must confront the disruption and the impact of Covid-19 on student learning. Stakeholders need better leadership in our mayoral-controlled schools. Serving on the SWW LSAT, I saw first hand how DCPS’ leadership bred mistrust, anger, and created unnecessary burdens on all school communities. At the close of the 2019-2020 school year when the first reports and reactions to virtual learning came forward, DCPS failed to solicit principal and teacher feedback to plan for the present school year.

Had there been a multidimensional and integrative view of leadership between DCPS and the educational community, time could have been spent on supporting principal planning and creating innovations for teaching virtually. Instead precious energy was spent in dealing with the chaos, the disruptions, and with the constant advocacy to be included and heard.

In the next 13 weeks before the upcoming school year this is what mayoral-controlled school leadership must include:

  1. A chancellor who engages, listens, and supports his schools’ principals on the pandemic constraints and needs for their buildings, budgets, students and teachers.
  2. The 700+ strong DCPS central office needs to provide all teachers with mental health support, professional encouragement, and the innovations needed to grow through this crisis.
  3. The establishment and communication of vaccination requirements for students and teachers so that schools may adequately plan, budget, and secure resources for in-person and, quite possibly, hybrid learning.

Our schools can no longer sustain a top-down leadership approach in this pandemic. Strong leadership will realize that each of us is in a vulnerable position and that we have a shared purpose in addressing these needs together. 

Thank you for the opportunity to share my insights on a matter that affects all DCPS stakeholders.


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