04/09/14 2:30pm

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr.TinDC

“Dear PoPville,

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.”

And some upcoming meetings: (more…)

03/31/14 3:45pm

From a press release:

“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.”

02/27/14 2:30pm

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“Dear PoPville,

I was wondering if anyone knows what the status is for the Garrison Elementary School field (the field runs along Vermont Ave NW and R St. NW). In the fall, I believe it was DPR who came and tore down those ugly blue structures that were allegedly for an old pool. The area around that old pool area has been fenced off since the fall. I heard rumors of the space being made into a park, but that was not a reliable source. Anyone have any ideas?”

02/05/14 3:15pm

“My organization, DC School Reform Now, has worked with parents all over DC over the last few years to help them gain more access to information about school options and quality. We launched the Virtual School Tours last year because while in-person school tours are always preferable, parents can’t always get to schools during school hours. They create great access to school information for parents across all Wards.

We have currently launched 10 Virtual School Tours that include, Two Rivers (which boasted the longest waitlist last year), Achievement Prep (an extremely high performing school in Ward 8) and E.L. Haynes—located in Petworth. We actually just launched the 11th this morning: Ingenuity Prep, a new charter school in Ward 8 with curriculum centered around civic leadership competencies.

The common deadline for submitting applications is March 3.”

01/10/14 4:48pm

“2014 DC Education Festival: Explore. Innovate. Celebrate.

What: Washington’s premier education festival presenting an all-in-one experience for community and families to discover, navigate, and engage successfully with their pre-school through high school and adult education/GED options; admission is free.

Who: 5,000+ attendees: African and Asian Americans, Latinos, and Whites; parents with their young children are well represented. 150+ participants: DC’s educational, government, cultural, civic, and corporate communities

When: Saturday, January 11, 2014 from 10 am to 5 pm
Where: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 3rd

AT THE FESTIVAL

Marking its fifth anniversary, the 2014 Festival showcases Washington, DC’s outstanding and varied education options for children in pre-school through high school and adult education/GED – and their families. Throughout the day, “meet and greet” with public charter, public, and private school professionals; enjoy student arts and cultural performances; sample cutting-edge technology; browse the community market; participate in group activities and workshops; participate in Town Hall Education DC supported by Verizon; and check out My School DC, the new online lottery for public and public charter schools.”

12/23/13 1:30pm

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From MPD:

“Persons of Interest Sought in Burglary II at Barnard Elementary School: 400 Block of Decatur Street, NW

(Washington, DC) – The Metropolitan Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying and locating two persons of interest in connection to a burglary II which occurred at Barnard Elementary School in the 400 block of Decatur Street, NW, on Sunday, November 24, 2013 at approximately 12:20 pm. The subjects can be seen entering and leaving the scene in a light colored sedan.

The persons of interest can be seen in this video.

Anyone who has information regarding this case should call police at 202-727-9099. Additionally, information may be submitted to the TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411.” (more…)

12/19/13 3:15pm

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From a press release:

“This week, the District launched a common application and lottery system for D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter schools. My School DC provides a single online application where families can apply for spots at all DCPS out-of-boundary schools (K–12), all DCPS PK3 and PK4 programs, DCPS specialized high schools, and nearly every public charter school program. Families can go to www.myschooldc.org and submit an application to as many as 12 schools. The application is open through February 3 for grades 9 – 12 and March 3 for grades PK – 8.

“This past summer, I committed to families that I would work to simplify the process for getting their students into the District’s public schools,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “The launch of the common lottery system is a giant leap in this direction. The common lottery will not only make it easier for families to apply, but it will also increase the number of families who get a seat at a school of their choice well in advance of next school year.”

My School DC replaces an application process that was often cumbersome and overwhelming for families. My School DC is working proactively to connect parents to all the necessary information about each school so that they can understand all the options available to them and make an informed decision. In addition to the comprehensive and searchable information available on MySchoolDC.org, there will be a targeted media campaign and extensive grass-roots community outreach.

The planning process for this system began over six months ago and has been a joint effort among the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education, DCPS, the Public Charter School Board, and representatives from charter schools.

“A common lottery process for all public school options just makes sense. This is a great example of how District agencies and public schools in both sectors can work together to implement a system that benefits all District families,” said Deputy Mayor for Education Abigail Smith.

There is no advantage to applying early. However, the system launched successfully on the first day, with more than 1,000 applications submitted. More than 10,000 individuals have visited the website to learn more about the process and school options.

“The common lottery and My Schools DC represents collaboration that is great for DCPS and great for our city. It makes the out-of-boundary process more clear and eliminates duplication on waitlists, which often creates stress for schools and families,” said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “I am hopeful this will allow more families who choose to participate in the lottery to get a seat at a school of their choice and have the information they need to help ensure a successful school year for their student.”

“We’re excited that so many D.C. charter schools have chosen to participate in a common lottery,” said Public Charter School Board Executive Director Scott Pearson. “I expect that My School DC will simultaneously make enrollment season easier for families and for schools.

For more information on the process and how to submit an application, please visit www.myschooldc.org.”

12/18/13 2:45pm

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Photo by PoPville flickr user ekelly80

From a press release:

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) showed the greatest growth of any urban school district in the country on the 2013 Trial Urban District Assessment, Mayor Vincent C. Gray and DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced today. DCPS is the only school district in the nation to see statistically significant growth in all tested grades and subject areas.

Overall, DCPS students’ scores grew by five points in 4th-grade reading, eight points in 8th-grade reading, seven points in 4th-grade math and five points in 8th-grade math. This growth represents the highest scores DCPS students have ever seen on this test. The test was administered in March of this year, and specifically gauges math and reading skills for 4th and 8th graders. (more…)