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Dear PoPville – Thoughts about the proposed DC schools boundary changes?

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:

“Upper NW & NE Community Meetings Working Group Meeting #2:
Description- The DME is hosting Community Working Group Meetings throughout the city on the Student Assignment and School Boundaries Review process.
Location- Coolidge High School-Armory (6315 5th St. NW)
Date & Time- Thursday, April 24th from 5:30pm-8:30pm.

Center City Community Working Group Meeting #2:
Description- The DME is hosting Community Working Group Meetings throughout the city on the Student Assignment and School Boundaries Review process. Location- Dunbar High School-Cafeteria (101 N. St. NW)
Date & Time- Saturday, April 26th from 9:00am-12:00pm.

East End Community Working Group Meetings #2:
Description- The DME is hosting Community Working Group Meetings throughout the city on the Student Assignment and School Boundaries Review process.
Location- Anacostia High School-Cafeteria (1601 16th St. SE)
Date & Time- Saturday, April 26th from 3:00pm-6:00pm.”

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