Anacostia Voices is written by Paul Penniman. In 2003, Paul founded Resources for Inner city CHildren, RICH, which provides tutoring and mentoring services to Anacostia High School and the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School-Capitol Hill.
Travis and I had just gotten into the car for the drive back from Greensboro after his day and a half orientation at North Carolina A&T when he uttered those words regarding his going to college. He doesn’t know anyone in his neighborhood, known as “Lench Mob,” who are going to or who have graduated from college. He is a first generation college attendee, as are D and W, MATHletes all, whom RICH has been working with since freshman year of high school. Travis is excited but nervous, D is jumping out of his skin to start at Morehouse College, and W is incredibly nervous as he approaches the day I leave him at South Carolina State.
It has been an amazing journey for these three scholars. They have endured abuse, neglect, and loss throughout their childhoods. Their teachers at Anacostia High School and members of the RICH staff are some of the steadiest adults in their lives. It will be an awesome experience to help deliver them all of them to their respective campuses.
Historically, 3% of Anacostia students have finished college. Since the terrific Achievers Program has started, that number has jumped to about 15%. RICH is committing resources to help Travis, W, and D finish college, as well as many others. As RICH’s community ages, we need to make sure we don’t say good-bye to them at high school graduation.
One of our first scholars, a boy who attended Maya Angelou and then Virginia Tech, has invited me to his wedding in the fall down South. Seeing him achieve another milestone in his life will give me the opportunity to visit the three MATHletes who are beginning the achievement of their next milestone. As our staff repeatedly tells me, many of whom have taught in many schools and school settings, “This is the most rewarding work we have ever done.”
A reader writes in wondering specifically about Bridges Public Charter School but I figure I’ll throw the general question out there too – for those who have kids in ‘em or have done some research – which charter schools are most impressive? Anyone know about Bridges? What are considered the top five-ten schools?
“Since last October, an Advisory Committee of parents, community members, and other experts have been working with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education to review student assignment policies, DCPS school boundaries, and feeder patterns. After months of work and community input, the Advisory Committee has developed a draft proposal for additional community discussion and feedback.
To get more information and share your feedback on these proposed changes, we invite you to:
Attend a community meeting
June 16th, 6 – 8PM, Savoy Elementary School, 2400 Shannon Place, SE
June 17th, 6 – 8PM, Dunbar High School, 101 N Street, NW
June 19th, 6 – 8PM, Takoma Education Campus, 7010 Piney Branch Road, NW
Provide testimony at Council of the District of Columbia public oversight roundtable on school boundaries on June 26, 2014 at 9AM. Call 202-724-8000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Each DCPS school was provided with a letter and map outlining the proposed boundary changes for that school. To see the proposed boundary changes, by school, please click on the appropriate link below. The Washington Post has interactive maps that allow families to type in their address to view how the proposal could impact their elementary, middle, and high school rights.”
“What is worth preserving for posterity? 5th graders in Ms. Ronda Scott’s class at Raymond Education Campus explored this question while learning about the role that conservators and photographers play in preserving and maintaining the U.S. Capitol. On Tuesday, May 6th at 6:30pm, students will open an exhibit of their photographs at The Coupe restaurant (3415 11th St NW). Students will lead a 30 minute presentation about this project which included several lessons and a trip to the Capitol led by Live It Learn It (LILI) and a photography workshop taught by Charles Badal, photographer with the Architect of the Capitol. Students were challenged with capturing elements that are worth preserving of the Capitol, their neighborhood, their school and their personal lives using cameras on loan from Nikon Professional Services. The result is an exhibition in which the Brumidi Corridors of the Capitol are juxtaposed with a prized Wrestlemania t-shirt since students thought both should be preserved. (more…)
“Last December, the Urban Institute launched “Our Changing City,” an interactive series designed to help anyone with an interest in DC explore 10 years of dynamic growth, 2000 through 2010.
Chapter One covered demographics. We used data, narrative, and maps—lots of maps—to provide a bird’s eye view of how the city transformed after gaining nearly 30,000 new residents—its first population increase in 50 years.
Today, we turn our attention and tools to the educational landscape. New families are changing DC’s schools, driving the first increase in public school enrollment since the 1960s.
In this chapter, we highlight the choices tens of thousands of families are making—traditional public schools versus charters, staying within a school catchment area or traveling beyond it—as the student population grows and demand for K-12 education increases.”
I would welcome a civilized discussion of the proposed DC schools boundary changes. All the parents I have talked to are overwhelmingly against it. But perhaps I live in a west-of-the-park bubble, and I would be curious to know what others in the city think. It seems to me that, setting aside that some will be winners and some losers, the proposals cause unnecessary uncertainty and potential upheaval in settled expectations that could derail the momentum our city, and our schools, have seen recently. I would be very curious to see a real defense of these proposals, because so far I haven’t heard any good ones.”
From CM Bowser’s office:
“Washington, D.C. – Today, Councilmember Bowser issued the following statement with respect to the Deputy Mayor for Education’s preliminary proposals to realign school boundaries.
“As Ward 4 Councilmember and Democratic nominee for Mayor of the District of Columbia, I recognize that the outcome of the boundary realignment process will be of great consequence for the education of our students and, ultimately, for the growth of our City.
The scenarios put forth by the Deputy Mayor for Education and the Advisory Committee on Student Assignment propose some very good ideas, including, choice sets, the creation of four new middle schools, a new high school west of the park, the establishment of an application STEM-middle school, as well as a dual language middle school. But the proposals fail significantly in two notable ways: first, they limit cross-boundary feeders, and second, they severely decrease predictability for parents of students at the middle and high school levels.
From the outset, I’ve approached this discussion guided by the following principles: A new school assignment plan must maintain diversity with current, cross-park boundary and feeder patterns; establish predictable, by-right school choices at every level; and accelerate citywide middle school improvements. To gain my support, a student assignment plan must align with these principles.
The hard work of the Deputy Mayor for Education and the Student Assignment committee should be praised, but we must also commit to a process that is open, participatory, and that ultimately reflects the desires of parents and the best interests of their children. Only then will I be willing to support the final decision with the authority and financial commitment of my current, and possible, office.”
From CM Catania’s Office:
“Today, Councilmember David A. Catania (At-Large), chair of the Council’s Committee on Education, released the following statement regarding the Deputy Mayor for Education’s school attendance boundary revision proposals:
I would like to thank the Deputy Mayor for Education, her staff, and all those in the community who contributed their time and hard work to the school boundary revision process. I appreciate all of their efforts.
Over the last seven years, we have asked parents to take a leap of faith, to reinvest in public schools. Anything we do to shock that fragile confidence will undermine our work to create a comprehensive system of high quality schools across the District. It is for that reason that I cannot and will not support any of the three policy options as proposed. Options “A” and “C” are wholly unacceptable. These two options would undermine our matter of right system, which provides parents with desperately needed predictability and academic continuity for their children’s education. Any proposal that would remove by-right neighborhood elementary, middle and high schools from our public education system is a nonstarter for me.
With respect to Policy Option “B”, I will not support it as proposed. As I have said all along, I will stand against any plan that removes students from a higher performing school and forces them into a lower performing one. Further, I have serious concerns with the elements of Option “B” that would carve out significant populations of African American and Hispanic students from the Deal Middle School and Wilson High School feeder pattern. I believe this option would on its face have a disparate impact on these communities and as a result the District could face valid inquiry from the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights division should it move forward.”
In order to truly address the issue at hand, overcrowding at some schools and massive under enrollment at others, our energies would be better spent directed and devoted to improving schools across the District. Rather than simply redrawing lines on a map and cutting children out of high quality schools, the real solution is to double down on efforts to raise the academic quality of schools in every neighborhood. Yesterday, the Council passed legislation that I authored that would for the first time create real cross-sector school facilities planning that takes into account enrollment projections and school growth for both DCPS and public charter schools. This planning in concert with the additional financial resources for schools afforded by the Fair Funding and School-Based Budgeting Act, which I also authored, will set the District on an improved trajectory. I intend to take this same approach toward the fiscal year 2015 budget process, by ensuring that we are maximizing this new investment in order to achieve our shared goal of providing a high quality school for every student, in every neighborhood, with no exceptions.”
“Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced today the results of My School DC, the District’s first-ever common lottery system for D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) and most public charter schools. My School DC received 17,322 applications from families interested in attending one of 200 DCPS or public charter schools for the 2014-15 school year. This new process allowed families, for the first time, to use a single online application. The common lottery then maximized the number of students matched to a school they want to attend.
Families applied to 90 participating charter schools and all DCPS early childhood, out-of-boundary and specialized high schools, eliminating barriers and streamlining the process. Of the 17,322 applications received, more than 12,200 students were matched at the time of the lottery – a 71 percent match rate. Of these students, 85 percent were offered a seat at one of their top three school choices. PK3 and 9th grades had the highest number of applications submitted and also had the highest match rates compared to other grade levels – 88 percent and 78 percent, respectively. Additional students will be offered spots from waitlists over the spring and summer.
“For years, families struggled with paperwork and processes to participate in multiple lotteries across DCPS and charters. With this new system, we helped eliminate barriers and created an environment where families can see their options all in one place, empowering families to help make the best decisions for their students,” Mayor Gray said. “I’m also proud to see so many families got seats in the schools of their choice. This lottery is One City in action.”
A joint effort between the Deputy Mayor for Education, DCPS, the Public Charter School Board, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer, and public charter school leaders, My School DC is a successful example of how District agencies and schools – public and public charter – can work together in an innovative way for the benefit of District families.
With more than 200 public schools participating, parents could rank up to 12 schools for each child. Families are wait-listed at schools they ranked higher than where they were matched. This makes waitlists a more accurate measure of demand for schools, which was often an issue in previous years.
The distribution of applications by students’ ward of residence reflects the current distribution of public-school students in the city – an indication that families in every part of the city were able to access the application and participate in the lottery.
Families can log onto www.myschooldc.org and check their results or call the My School DC hotline at 202-888-6336. Families who were matched in Round 1 must submit their enrollment forms to the school where they were matched by May 1 in order to accept their seat. Anyone who was not matched with a school or missed the deadline can submit an application for Round 2 of the lottery. Applications (PK3-12) for Round 2 are due by May 15.
For more information on the process and how to submit an application for Round 2, please visit My School DC.”