Bike to School Day is May 5, 2021 – Join Us!

Ready to celebrate Bike to School Day? Join us at Lincoln Park for a (mask on) socially distant event.

However you celebrate, here’s how to join us:

  1. Register your school (today): http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/registration/
  2. Tell all your friends – share this flyer.
  3. On May 5, 2021, 7:45am-8:15am, put on a mask 😷, your school gear 🧢 🎒 and:
    • Join the (socially distant) festivities at Lincoln Park
    • IMPORTANT: We want everyone to be safe, so please join virtually (give us a #GoodTroubleRide shoutout on social media) if you are not feeling well (even if just a sniffle).
  4. Preview lyrics for our “Old Town Ride” singalong (http://bit.ly/GoodTroubleRide)
  5. TAKE PHOTOS 📷 🤳🏽: Tag #GoodTroubleRide #BiketoSchoolDay @w6pspo on Insta or Twitter.

We’ll end the event with a ride around Lincoln Park.

IMPORTANT: Those with little ones (PS-2nd grade) please ride ON the park outer sidewalk. The older kids will ride on the inner street lane around the park with help from MPD. We will all meet back on the park to split off into groups and safely exit the park to go to school or back home to school!

W6PSPO Meets Tuesday, April 20 @ 7pm

Dear Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization members,
W6PSPO will meet virtually on Tuesday, April 20, at 7 pm.  The following will be on our agenda:

  1. Kathy Patterson, DC Auditor, and Erin Roth, Director of Education Research for the Office of the DC Auditor, will discuss the recently released report, Measuring What Matters:  More and Better Data Needed to Improve D.C. Public Schools.
  2. Open discussion on what’s working at your schools.  Please come prepared to share with others what has worked at your school this past year, either with virtual or in-person learning.  We encourage principals and parents to share information.  One of the strengths of W6PSPO is learning from each other, and we hope you’ll take away some good ideas from this discussion.
  3. Update on the Our Students and Schools Need More Funding, Not Cuts petition, and the April 2 Council Hearing on the initial school budget allocations.
  4. Bike-to-School Day, Wednesday, May 5, at Lincoln Park at 7:45 am.  Come out to see your masked friends!

If you registered for a previous W6PSPO meeting, the link you received for that meeting will work for this and future

W6PSPO meetings.  If you don’t already have the meeting link, you can register at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAudOqsqDorHdOqNZKiWVfvLL0TPp_az3Wp.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Hope to see you on Tuesday.
Suzanne Wells

Bike to School Day is May 5, 2021 at Lincoln Park – Register & Save the Date!

Like Walk to School Day, Bike to School Day will look a little different this year (masks and distancing, a must!). What will stay the same is our community coming together in support of safe routes to school and to enjoy our favorite party on wheels!!!

For now, get ready by:

  • Step 1: Mark your Calendar –> May 5, 2021, 7:45-8:15 AM @ Lincoln Park.
  • Step 2: Register your school‘s event (or your participation in the Lincoln Park event) HERE!!
  • Step 3: Tell all your friends about Steps 1 and 2!

Citywide Outdoor Story Time is April 14, 2021

Art by 9 year old Agnes

Art by 9 year old Agnes

On April 14th, OUTDOOR STORY TIME will happen in EVERY WARD of the city nearly simultaneously to unite the city with children and outdoor learning.   All wards will be reading the same book supplied by the DC Public Library.  

In Ward 6, Outdoor Story Time will take place:

This is organized by the DC State Board of Education.  For more questions contact DC SBOE representative Allister  Chang Allister.Chang1@dc.gov  or 301 768 3638 

Follow up (Letter to Mayor Bowser): Our Students and Schools Need More Funding, Not Cuts

April 7, 2021

Dear Mayor Bowser,

We are reaching out on behalf of Ward education councils and community leaders across DC to request a meeting with you where we can discuss your administration’s plans for restoring school staff positions that were eliminated in FY22 school budget allocations and investing more in schools that have great needs. 

On April 2, members of our community detailed to Council how the proposed cuts to staffing and resources will hurt our schools. Our city is watching and waiting for an immediate solution.

For your reference, please find our original letter and petition here, and the names and comments of the ~1240 signatories from ~100 schools across all 8 wards attached.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Sponsors:

Ward 2 Education Council

Ward 3 Wilson Feeder Education Network

Ward 4 Education Alliance

Ward 5 Education Equity Committee

Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization

Ward 7 Education Council

Ward 8 Education Council

Alexandra Simbana, Ward 1 Schools

Layla Bonnot, 1A01
Christine Miller, 1A05
Judson Wood, 1A06
Jason Clock, 1A12
Lisa Gore, 3G01
Evan Yeats, 4B01
Erin Palmer, 4B02
Tiffani Nichole Johnson, 4B06
Colleen Costello, 5B05
Robb Dooling, 6A06
Dorothy Douglas, 7D03

DC Fiscal Policy Institute


To:

Mayor Muriel Bowser
Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn
Chancellor Lewis Ferebee

CC:

DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson
Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau
Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto
Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh
Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George
Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen
Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray
Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White

At-Large Councilmember Robert White
At-Large Counclmember Christina Henderson
At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds
At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman

Council Education Staff
Petition Sponsors

PARCC is Officially Canceled This Year!

Dear DC School Community Members,

It’s official! PARCC is canceled this year!

Yesterday, the US Department of Education approved the waiver request submitted by the DC Office of the State Superintendent for Education.  Thank YOU ALL for your advocacy and support and thank you to the Ward Education Councils, PTO/LSAT and community leaders who helped get the word out.

The support from city leaders was also important – we hold them accountable and thank them when they show up. Notably, Ward 6 Councilmember Allen, Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George, and Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced legislation in support of canceling PARCC.

Similarly, DC State Board of Education (SBOE) President Parker (Ward 5), Ward 8 Representative Dr. Reid, and At-Large Representative Patterson also publicly supported the waiver request.

This is mercifully our *final* communication on this (yay!) so we want to end with a virtual round of applause for a community coming together. Be sure to reach out to your ward education council, teacher group, and community leaders (contact info below) on how to stay connected with local education issues. Many eyes help to hold our education institutions accountable.

Very best,

Sandra, Suzanne, and Alex

(Wards 6/2/4/1 Moms)


Alexandra Simbana, Ward 1 Schools Advocate

Ward 2 Education Council

Ward 3 Wilson Feeder Education Network

Ward 4 Education Alliance

Ward 5 Education Equity Committee

Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization

Ward 7 Education Council

Ward 8 Education Council

Senior High Alliance for Parents Principals and Educators (SHAPPE)

Coalition for DC Public Schools and Communities (C4DC)

EmpowerEd

W6PSPO Mourns the Sudden and Tragic Passing of Liz Davis

Photo Credit: Suzanne Wells

The Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization mourns the sudden and tragic passing of Liz Davis, the President of the Washington Teachers’ Union. Liz was a fierce advocate for teachers. She transformed the WTU into one of the most powerful teachers unions in the country. Her work was always grounded by her four decades teaching in the public schools.

Liz was also a masterful organizer. She understood the importance of bringing parent voices to the table. As was characteristic of Liz, she called in for the March 2021 W6PSPO meeting to help her learn more about parent issues with reopening schools.

We take this time to mourn with Liz’s family, friends and colleagues. We vow to honor Liz by continuing her work to ensure an equitable education for every child.

Ward 4 Education Alliance – COW Hearing: DCPS Initial School Level Budgets FY22 – April 2, 2021

Committee of the Whole Public Roundtable on DCPS Initial School Level Budgets

Cathy Reilly on Behalf of the Ward 4 Education Alliance

April 2, 2021, 9:30am

Thank you for this opportunity to testify on the DCPS local school budgets.  My name is Cathy Reilly and I am here testifying on behalf of the Ward 4 Education Alliance and  the Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators SHAPPE.  I am a member of C4DC.

We are strong proponents of stable staffing and equity always, but especially now. 

Along with inflation and the supplanting of at-risk dollars, enrollment projections affect the local school budgets. For FY22, they were difficult to make and DCPS was conservative. The harm in being understaffed when additional students arrive is great. Being short social workers and teachers for students coming back to school or arriving in this country is just irresponsible. Hiring strong staff in the fall is too late.  However,the gain is exponentially positive, if there are more staff than the student/teacher ratios require. It might result in having smaller class sizes or being able to pivot to serving some in person and some virtually. 

Ward 4 DCPS schools have a high number of ELL families and the projections are down at most of the schools. Our schools will not be adequately prepared to provide the educational opportunities these students, potentially coming to our schools, deserve.  All told, 20 ELL teachers have been cut from the Ward 4 school budgets as well as 14 general Ed positions. 

The number of children and families at the border verifies the need for us to plan. While many have been able to keep bilingual staff, it has come at some cost to other areas. This is an example of the staffing cuts that are not sustainable.  The schools, primarily in wards 4 and 1 serving a high proportion of these students, have actually needed more bilingual staff throughout the pandemic. The skill sets of these staff members are incredibly difficult to replace. 

Powell, MacFarland, Roosevelt, CHEC, Cardozo, Cleveland and Bruce Monroe have the challenge of staffing bilingual programs.  Takoma also saw cuts which will affect its ability to provide the integrated arts program they have been building. CHEC has basically maintained its enrollment but is seeing a cut in its budget. It serves the highest number of at risk students as well as a high number of ELL.  

Whittier, Takoma,  Brightwood and LaSalle are transitioning to elementary as Ida B Wells takes in a full middle school. These schools received stabilization funds but also saw cuts that will make it difficult to sustain the services to their PreK-3-5th graders.  For Dorothy Height, moving to a swing space and losing close to 400 million, the stabilization funding was woefully inadequate.  

West is pleased and excited to enter their new building in the fall.  However, as they welcome two new self-contained special education classrooms, they are also projected to lose ELL students and staff. They are projected to gain 11 students, which from past experience seems far too low for a brand new modernized school.  West is actually losing funds for the coming year. 

The funds for 6 extended day programs were moved to stimulus funds limiting them. Before, they had been part of the budget. These funds and funds for enrichment should be built into the budgets as students return. Truesdell has expressed the need many feel for expanded outdoor learning, and more opportunities for enrichment, not fewer.  

For the DCPS high schools:

These will be highlighted as part of the ward testimonies. To maintain our DCPS infrastructure we have to invest in and grow the neighborhood feeder patterns.  Neighborhood High schools, Woodson, Anacostia and Cardozo received stabilization funds. These absolutely  need to be continued and expanded with long term planning in those areas.  While the balance between large and small schools is tough to strike, DCPS has to do better.  Wilson and CHEC each saw significant cuts, losing crucial and long term staff.  The American Rescue Plan funds are for three years.  This is an opportunity to build for DCPS. It is crucial.

The capital issues in Ward 4 are acute and have to be noted as part of your budget deliberations. They will have a definite impact on any return to school plans:

1 The crowding at Roosevelt where Roosevelt STAY is co-located needs a solution.  STAY is a strong and vital opportunity academy, especially since DCPS closed Washington Met.  It needs its own building in this part of town.   

2 The crowding at Ida B  Wells and Coolidge also needs a solution in next year’s budget. The capacity of the shared cafeteria as noted on a plaque on the wall is 167 people.  The projected enrollment which they will meet is 1250. It is impossible to have enough lunch periods to accommodate this in the 6 hour school day. The Spanish and Enrichment teachers at Ida B Wells will lose their classroom space.

3 The issues at the phase 1 elementary schools have only grown. Whittier, Truesdall, and Lasalle have made a compelling case for a full modernization soon.  Truesdell and Whittier are not ADA compliant (which is against the law) and have not been for years.   Powell is scheduled for HVAC work this summer.  All of our schools have had significant quality control issues with the work of DGS.  

The restoration of the funding for these positions that were cut and immediate work on our school buildings is paramount.  Thank you

ANC4B01 – COW Hearing: DCPS Initial School Level Budgets FY22 – April 2, 2021

Testimony of Evan Yeats on Behalf of ANC4B01

Committee of the Whole Public Roundtable on DCPS Initial School Level Budgets

April 2, 2021, 9:30am

Dear Chair Mendelson and Councilmembers:

Thank you for the opportunity to submit this written testimony. This testimony is largely based Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Priorities, passed unanimously at a properly-noticed meeting by our Commission on March 22, 2021.

Students, families, and schools have faced unprecedented challenges over the previous year. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health emergency deepened already existing inequities that have plagued the District’s public education system. The challenges facing schools in DC demand a budget that prioritizes students across the District through an equity framework. Previous attempts to ensure equity have not succeeded — particularly in ensuring funding for at-risk students follows those students to their school and supplements existing funding — and current budgeting practices will only perpetuate those gaps. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B supports a budget that not only mitigates the harm caused to students and schools through the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, but also works to erase longstanding gaps in funding for students of color, low-income students, English-language learners, students with disabilities, and their schools.

In Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B, District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS)’s initial proposed budgets include significant cuts at Takoma Education Campus, Whittier Education Campus and Lasalle-Backus Education Campus. Each one of these schools serves student populations with significant need, but that need is not met by the proposed DCPS budgets. While DCPS has testified that the losses of general education teacher positions are caused by the transition of students from the education campus to Ida B. Wells Middle School, the Ida B. Wells middle school budget has not been increased by an equivalent number of general education teaching positions. 

In addition, these schools are losing seven English as a Second Language teacher positions, of the 57 being cut across DCPS. Students learning English are among those supposedly targeted for additional support by DCPS, however, by cutting the teaching staff they rely upon and have built relationships with, DCPS is undermining these students. 

These schools were also negatively impacted by DCPS’s decision to forgo federal Head Start grant funding and lay off 83 staff members working with vulnerable early childhood populations. It means that further staff cuts compound already existing decisions to remove supports in vulnerable school communities. 

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B requests the Fiscal Year 2022 budget for the District of Columbia fully fund individual District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) school budgets and ensure that no school experiences staff or program cuts of any kind so that federal and local relief funding are in addition to existing staff and resources at schools. In addition, ANC 4B has requested that federal relief funds for DCPS provide school-level support and flexibility instead of being spent centrally and externally by requiring that DCPS issue guidance to principals stating that funds can be used for staffing, can be spent over time, and do not require immediate obligation. 
DCPS has received or will receive shortly $277,517,055.14 in federal relief funding. Instead of using the money to retain highly-trained and experienced staff that our children know and love and that serve students with some of the most need, they are instead hiring temporary tutors and non-teaching staff. The “several hundred” monitor positions that DCPS recently opened to hiring are “long-term temporary” with no benefits and low pay. These budgeting decisions are irresponsible, immoral and do not reflect a commitment to our children and our values or to the success of our children. They are also completely unnecessary.

Ward 7 Education Council – COW Hearing: DCPS Initial School Level Budgets FY22 – April 2, 2021

Dr. Marla M. Dean Testimony on Behalf of Ward 7 Education Council

Committee of the Whole Public Roundtable on DCPS Initial School Level Budgets

April 2, 2021, 9:30am

Good Morning Chairman Mendelson, Councilmembers and Council Staff. Thank you for the opportunity to come before you this morning. I am Dr. Marla M. Dean, ED/CEO of Bright Beginnings, Inc, a DC nonprofit that operates child and family learning centers serving those largely located in Wards 7 & 8 who as the current Mayor has stated “farthest away from opportunity.” But today, I come before you in my current capacity as Legislative Chair of the Ward 7 Education Council (W7EC) but also as the incoming Chair of the Ward 7 Education Council.

The Ward 7 Education Council supports the petition being currently circulated through the Action Network that calls for more funding to schools and no cuts. I am positive in this era of recovery, after suffering the worst moments of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can all coalesce around the idea of “no cuts to schools”. But the important question is — will schools receive increased funding to support the whole child, and the impact on families and communities?

This question is the one I hope to elucidate this morning.

  1. Last night, the W7EC met, and we learned about our schools receiving reduced initial budgets. Many LSATs and principals have successfully petitioned the District to recoup some of their funding cuts but no school has escaped impact.
    • Schools have had to cut FTEs; reduce some staff to part time; or plan to dismantle important programming in order to balance their budgets.
    • No schools are in a place to bring on innovative programming to help mitigate the experience of the last year.
    • One school has a new principal and thought that it was vital to have a vice principal to support the new leadership. To make this happen, this school reduced some staff to part time.
    • For some schools to retain staff, they were left with the reality that they could do nothing else.
    • While other schools are simply losing FTEs.
    • Vital programs like before and after care have been impacted.
    • Schools are at risks of not having librarians, music, art or PE instructors.
    • Schools have had to eliminate funding for digital learning software and student licenses, funds for college tours, funds for experiential learning off campus, funds for computer devices for teachers and students, and funds for student and teacher celebrations and recognition.

After the experience of COVID-19 and the unknown traumas that will most certainly reveal itself over time, losing staff or cutting programming that ensures that every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged cannot be our way forward. We must employ a whole child approach.

2. We must also plan for the future and the inevitable. Special education supports were already a concern before the pandemic and the need will undoubtedly increase as schools fully come online and students return to the building.

  • We can anticipate that more students will need to be referred for services. We already have an indicator for this emerging need as violent crime has increased among youth.
  • Before the pandemic many schools did not have Special Education Coordinators who did not have teaching loads. Special Education Coordinators do exactly what their title indicates, coordinate vital services. But they also are serve as crisis intervenors, liaisons with parents, and advocates for students. Every school should have a Special Education Coordinator who is duty free from any and all teaching responsibilities. This is a minimum requirement to meet this need that is mandated by law for our students.

3. We must not over rely on community-based organizations and contractors to fill the gaps that we know many of our children will have when they return to their schools. This new term “high dosage tutoring” is one that gives me great pause. If we employ a deficit lens to addressing this issue, we will surely disenfranchise our most vulnerable and marginalized students.

  • The way forward must be investing in high expertise teaching. Staff that is in schools daily have the best opportunity to build respect and rapport between staff and students. There can be no supplanting of full-time staff to meet this need.
  • We have heard that schools have been told they should not increase staffing because of the cliffing effect. This is reference to the anticipated federal funding that is scheduled to arrive in the near future.
  • The reality is that community-based organizations or contractors will experience that same cliffing effect because overtime their funding will sunset. So, we cannot use community-based organizations to supplant the needed staffing of our schools. I am a leader of a community-based organization. They play a vital role. But their role is to supplement not supplant staffing.
  • Again, staff that are with our students, day in and day out and for the full day, are our best hope for recovery from this devastating experience our children have endured.

4. Finally, there is a movement afoot to convert to a student-based budgeting staffing model. I am a proponent for student-based budgeting. But not in DC where schools are small and there are over 60 LEAs and where no economies of scale can be employed. We need a strong comprehensive staffing model that ensures all schools have a baseline of staff and programming or we will see more and more students disengage from learning. This is a topic for a future day but it is one to watch for and ask questions about before it is implemented.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

%d bloggers like this: