Status

School Transparency Bills: Discussion with Councilmember Allen – May 20, 2019

Summary of Discussion with Councilmember Allen regarding School Transparency Bills. Meeting was hosted by the Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization on Tuesday, May 20, 2019.

Resources:

 

Background behind the drafting of the Public School Transparency Amendment Act of 2019 (introduced by Charles Allen):

  • Public accountability and transparency are important
  • Meant to bring parity between DCPS and DCPCSB and require ALL LEAs (DCPS, KIPP, BASIS, etc) to be subject to OMA and FOIA
  • Follows recommendations and best practices established by National Alliance for Charter Schools vis a vis Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Open Meetings Act (OMA)
  • Talked w/ charter school parents who are surprised FOIA and OMA do not apply to their school boards
  • School leaders looking for transparency and voice
  • In terms of administrative burden, when we look at other school systems, there do not seem to be a lot of FOIA requests
  • Hearings are split. June 26 is School Based Budgeting and Transparency Amendment Act of 2019,; Oct 2 for CM Allen’s Public School Transparency Amendment Act of 2019  expecting both conversations to be similar, including public testimony.

Discussion:

Resources needed to support LEAs in FOIA compliance:

  • CM Allen and colleagues want to think creatively around accountability and transparency and willing to support resources towards LEAs and DCPCSB in fulfilling FOIA requirements.
    • *EmpowerEd Research reflects that subjecting schools to FOIA is endorsed by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools and data show it hasn’t been cumbersome for schools in the least. There are no states that provides support funds to local LEA’s to comply with FOIA since it is usually such a small percentage of someone’s existing job. In EmpowerEd research calling charter schools across many states, they talked to no school who received more than five FOIA requests in a year.

Competing(?) Bills

  • While there are several school transparency bills on the table, it is possible that elements from each will come together in a synthesized version. It’s likely that the hearings on each bill will yield discussion across all of the bills.

Transparency gaps raised:

  • We’re not asking for any more than what public schools provide. Also, all contractors that do work for the city are subject to FOIA.
  • Families concerned about at risk dollars, transparency, is money there for my child being used for my child? If there’s an issue, will we be able to FOIA that? These are public dollars. If passed, will it be properly funded the right way to be implemented?
    • FOIA may not be able to help with this (or other issues) directly, but allows communities to be empowered to ask the questions and sunshine on govt.
  • Monument Academy, sexual assaults, weapons charges and allegations have yielded mixed responses vis a vis transparency. In situations where something wrong is at the school, what could bill do to ensure transparency? CM Allen: When Monument was coming in, there was pushback from neighbors, so stood up for Monument. Does having ability to have more information bring transparency? Some issues described come up against criminal justice system, which we also need to be sensitive to.
  • Is it possible to get a fiscal impact statement for transparency bill? Can we FOIA DCPS and ask how much spent on FOIA? CM Allen: Typically, fiscal impact statement not prepared in advance of a hearing. However, just because FOIA requires resources, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. From agency side, transparency is a cost of doing business.
  • Wish DCPS and DCPCSB get on the same page. It would be so much easier for parents. Parents have kids in both sectors, it would be easier to stay on top of everything happening. Education dollars are significant and affecting a lot of kids. If we take away labels, they are all DC kids. Where is curriculum? Where are the teachers?
  • There are less restrictions on public funds – none of the bills put the same restrictions on at-risk funds across DCPS and charters.
  • Teachers would like for more information sharing so they are more protected: care about how schools are spending money, compensation (no pay scale, equity concerns), how our schools are governed – unless at a school that prioritizes teacher and parent voice.

Possible solutions to DCPCSB FOIA compliance structure:

  • (DCOGC) Recommendation for DCPCSB to serve as FOIA facilitator for LEAs. The way this can work is that while FOIA doesn’t let you reach private entities, but if it’s required that LEAs turn over their information to the DCPCSB, if you don’t get the records; you want, you can appeal to the Office of Open Govt and compel the DCPCSB to turn over the documents. It makes sense for DCPCSB to develop disclosure policy.
  • The way it currently works, you are unable to FOIA the contractor and what power does DCPCSB have to get info from LEAs?
  • Answer is for DCPCSB to include in charter the provision that requires school to turn over records to the board.

Outreach around bills

NEXT STEPS:

CHPSPO Meeting Notes – December 17, 2013

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization
Watkins Elementary (library, 2nd floor)

420 12th Street, SE, December 17, 2013, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

 

1- Candidates Forums

    • Report out on 12/9 Mayoral Candidates Forum –
    • Ward 6 City Council – co-sponsor with Eastern Market Metro Community Association (EMMCA) and others on February 18, 20 or 22. CHPSPO will co- Sponsor.
    • CHPSPO decided to sponsor an education focused Ward 6 City Council forum.  Joe Weedon volunteered to approach Eastern HS to see if they are willing to host the forum. Suggested the forum be in early March. Advertise in Hill Rag in Feb – Heather Schoell to follow up on advertising.
    • Mayor – co-sponsor with other education groups across the city, date TBD CHPSPO will participate. Suzanne Wells to serve as initial PoC until responsibilities are clear.

2 – Report on Catania discussion hosted by Greater Greater Education: http://storify.com/CHPSPO/gge-hosts-education-discussion-with-cm-catania

3 – Update on Middle School recommendations

    • Discussion of recommendations sent to Henderson and Catania
    • Middle school survey?
    • Per Catania, this is the Year of Middle School
    • Jan 28 – another boundary/feeder pattern hearing; encouraged CHPSPO to reach out to other ed groups across the city and find out recommendations.
    • DCPS budget survey now being framed as a middle school issue
    • ACTION: Append letter to middle school survey.
    • ACTION: Reps from each school look at MS Plan and where things are today vis-avis implementation, Rick Bardach for Jefferson, Joe Weedon for Eliot-Hine, Bill Horne for SH.

4. Update on school boundaries and feeder patterns (NOTE:  Ward 6 Advisory Committee members Denise Forte and Marty Welles could not attend the CHPSPO meeting on 12/17)

    • From 21st CSF, would be helpful to find out what is working and what is not working.
    • Like that there is a geographic boundary and a feeder school pattern.
    • Don’t like that there is little communication between middle schools and ES that feed into them or between MS and HS.
    • Don’t like that feeder patterns are not aligned from boundaries
    • On Feeder/Boundary process, need to leverage conversation to achieve bigger goals.
    • Can’t have dialogue w/out starting w/ shared understanding of the situation… no data
    • Misalignment between 5th grade at DCPS and DCPCS
    • Misalignment between feeder schools to Eastern and the Eastern boundaries

5. Data that needs to be available to community to inform boundary/feeder discussion:

    • Neighborhood residency info for students at school level (for ES, MS, HS), sorted by Ward
    • Charter and DCPS at school level, with percentage in-bounds, percentage in Ward, sorted by Ward
    • 4th and 5th grade attrition rates at every DCPS elementary school, by Ward
    • Percentage of students by DCPS and Charter middle schools at school level by grade and sorted by Ward
    • Number of kids in the current elementary school grade-level cohorts, at school level, sorted by Ward
    • How many of the past 3 or 4 years’ worth of 4th/5th graders were captured by DCPS middle schools at school level, sorted by Ward
    • School lottery results vis a vis enrollment, by school
    • DCPS and charter waiting lists for the past 5 years by school, sorted by Ward
    • Data that would help quantify students who enroll, but leave the school, either midyear when a slot opens elsewhere or through the lottery the next year, at school level, sorted by Ward
    • School level attrition by year, by grade
    • School level data around flow of students from feeder to destination schools, from perspective of students who have been through the feeder pattern from ES through HS, identifying in boundary and out of boundary.”

Next CHPSPO Meeting:  January 22, 2014 (NOTE:  This is a Wednesday)

Upcoming Events:

December 16   DCPS and DCPCS lottery opens. Visit school open houses throughout the Spring semester. See DCPS schedule here. Apply via http://www.myschooldc.org/.

December 19   Deputy Mayor for Education’s Focus Group on School Boundaries and Feeder Patterns, Logan

January 23       3rd Annual Maury Think Tank Night http://maurythinktank.blogspot.com/

2013 Fundraisers:

 

March 8           Tyler Alchemy of Great Taste http://www.tylerelementary.net/

March 14         Cluster Rocks! Auction & Gala http://www.capitolhillclusterschool.org

March 22         Maury at the Market http://mauryelementary.com/

March 29         Brent Taste of the Hill  http://brentelementary.org/

May 18            Capitol Hill Classic 10K/3K/Fun Run http://www.capitolhillclusterschool.org

CHPSPO Meeting Notes – September 17, 2013

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization
J.O. Wilson Library, 
660 K Street, NE

September 17, 2013, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

  1. Open Data (Where Kids at Your School Live) – Sandra Moscoso and Harlin Harris
  • Data requests:
    • o Waitlists for each school
    • o Teacher evaluation data
    • o Follow students as they transition from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school
    • o Teacher retention
    • o Student turnover; transitions; mid year
    • o Facilities amenities; modernization plans
  • Suggest socialize with other education groups: Washington Teachers Union, Cathy Reily/SHAPPE, PCNS

 2. Discussion of policy paper on education bills before the City Council

 3. Library advocacy update – Peter McPherson – GREAT NEWS! http://chpspo.org/2013/09/05/dcps-libraries-win-big-by-peter-macpherson/

4.  Walk to School Day – George Blackmon

  • Need: stretches (Lashone Wilson); coffee (Samantha Caruth); press release (Beth Bacon)
  • When: Weds, Oct 9, 7:30-8:15 AM @ Lincoln Park

 

Next CHPSPO Meeting:  October 15, 2013

Upcoming Events:

October 9        Walk to School Day

October 13      Taste of JO Wilson (http://www.tasteofh.org/)

WANTED: Cute DC Kids and Their Parents for White House Project

Are you a DC parent, looking for a school for your 3 year old, middle school or high school student? Have you found a terrific elementary school, but worried about middle school?
We want to hear from you as part of a volunteer-run project we hope to showcase at the White House, at the end of July.A team of civic hackers (volunteer data scientists, programmers, and parents) are working through Code for DC (http://codefordc.org/) to help DC families with understanding the school landscape. We are working with DC school officials to publish information about schools, and answer questions like: are there children enrolled in this school that live in my neighborhood? where are the children from my child’s elementary school going to middle school? We will add more information, as we collect additional information about DC schools that goes beyond standardized testing performance (see a preview of the first version below).

How can you participate today? Help us make a video to get the attention of the folks at the White House, so our project can be included at a showcase. By Thursday, June 20, send us a 20-30 second video (via dropbox, to: Elena Chiriboga  <elc64 at georgetown dot edu>) with you or your children (or both), capturing any of the following:

  • You, in front of something recognizable in your neighborhood (like Anacostia river, Brookland Metro station, Cathedral- whatever makes sense) saying: “Where do the children in my neighborhood go to (Elementary, or Middle, or High) school?”
  • You/your children in front of something recognizable in your neighborhood (like Anacostia river, Brookland Metro station, Cathedral- whatever makes sense) saying: “We live in [XXX neighborhood]!”
  • You, at your child’s school saying: “I love my children’s elementary school, but I’m confused about where to send them to middle school”
  • Your child, in front of something recognizable in your neighborhood saying: “I want to go to school where my neighborhood friends go!”
  • Your child, at their school saying: “My favorite part of school is….”
A few tips:
  • To capture the best sound quality, you have to stand reasonably close to the subject (especially since kids don’t always have the loudest voice). Stand about 1-2 feet away from the subject. Try for a shot that is from the chest up. Playback the video after your first recording to make sure the sound isn’t blown out or peaking. If you’re far away from your subject the volume will probably playback very low and boosting it in editing software will only increase all the white noise.
  • Try to limit background noise when the subject is speaking.
  • Always have the light behind you.
  • B-roll can be really tricky with a phone because people tend to move around the phone really quickly when recording. It’s better to be still and have the objects in your frame moving than for you to be panning with your phone.
  • Send along a few photos, too, which we will mix in with the video.
Be sure to tell us your first name, and your child’s first name and age and how best to reach you, to share the final video, which will be included in our White House submission.
Thank you in advance from the Code for DC Education Project Team!
image

Tuesday, June 18, CHPSPO meeting at Watkins

Dear CHPSPO members,The June 18 (Tuesday) CHPSPO meeting will be from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at Watkins Elementary. We have a full agenda for the evening with discussions about open data for education, Revolution Foods (a DCPS food vendor), SWS proximity preference, and the education bills before the council.If you get a chance, stop by the Watkins Food Prints lab at 6 p.m. for a presentation on the “real cost of food,” and enjoy a healthy meal made with food grown by the students at Stuart Hobson (see attached).See you on Tuesday.Suzanne Wells

061813 CHPSPO Agenda.docx

SH Community Flyer.pdf

Video

Recognition of CHPSPO’s Work in Advocating for Librarians and Transparency in Education

Recognition by The Sunlight Foundation (sunlightfoundation.com) of CHPSPO’s work in advocating for DCPS librarians, transparency in DC education, and open data. Special thanks to Suzanne Wells, Peter MacPherson, Bella Dinh-Zarr, Satu Haase-Webb and Laura Marks for their work on the libraries effort.