Charter Schools vs. DCPS
Ever-increasing enrollments in DCPCS forced the DCPS chancellor to propose closing fifteen DC Public Schools in an effort to manage scarce resources more efficiently. It’s been more than a decade since DC adopted Charter Schools. Name a specific benefit and challenge with both entities? If elected, what goals do you expect to provide?
A challenge of DCPS is chronic underfunding. Traditional public schools in Ward 8 are still recovering from the effects of segregation and redlining which prevented minority families from equally accessing educational opportunities. Therefore, these schools in particular need increased funding to support inequities caused by systemic racism and oppression. Charter schools bring elements of innovation to education; however the influx of charters in the ward has led to instability in our educational system as some have not been able to remain open due to performance or financial difficulty. If elected my goal is to engage neighbors around a moratorium on opening new schools in Ward 8, as our current system continues to bring in new schools at a rate faster than it is able to fund or monitor for accountability and quality improvement efforts. Instead, my focus will be on fortifying the current schools in the ward, both DCPS and charter.
According to the CDC Mental Disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems getting through the day. Childhood trauma, being one aspect, is prevalent in some poverty to low income households. If elected, what can voters expect from you to improve this dilemma amongst school age children’s mental health?
First, I believe a universal screening for adverse childhood events (ACES) should be provided to all children regularly and at multiple touch points in their educational journeys. Second, I would advocate for funding services for families who are not eligible for medicaid reimbursement and frequently denied mental health supports by for profit community based organizations. My advocacy would include families who may be undocumented, have no insurance, or private insurance.
Preparing Students academically
According to the Non-profit Hechinger Report each year, when they get to campus, more than half a million American college students have to take so-called remedial or developmental education classes to teach them basic math and English skills they should have learned in high school. Main-stream media and written newspaper articles have constantly reported how DC students are ill prepared for college and the workforce after Secondary Graduation. If elected what would be a priority of yours to change this dilemma?
One priority would be to reduce the pressure for teachers to expedite learning experiences caused by standardized testing. Additionally, I will advocate for our teachers to have adequate professional development opportunities (i.e college coursework, licensure maintenance, conferences, etc.) to keep them abreast of current instructional methodologies that research has proven to render the most fruitful outcomes in students.
The Coronavirus pandemic has brought on new challenges in the classroom of learning. In DC textbooks, laptops and school materials are the necessities for a quality learning environment within a classroom setting. The American Academy of Pediatrics, a national association of pediatricians, issued guidance July 1, 2020 advocating for in-person classes in the fall. Remote learning, the academy said, will likely result in severe learning loss and social isolation that can lead to serious emotional and health issues for students. If elected, what improvements would you promote to implement during these challenging times?
More recent data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association indicated that 97,000 children in the U.S. have tested positive for Coronavirus. It is imperative to keep children, school staff, and families at home to reduce spread especially with the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the District and the looming flu season. I believe we need to support families as much as possible with emergency child care. I support the use of community spaces such as libraries, churches, and recreational spaces to serve as alternative learning locations for families who feel comfortable or need support for distance learning.
On July 1, 2020 DCIST reported Teachers in D.C. Public Schools are pushing back against preliminary plans to reopen schools in the fall, arguing the city school system has not adequately addressed health and safety concerns. Before the pandemic challenges, teachers were being physically and mentally abused in one-on-one personal classroom settings and the students’ behavior has become a big challenge. How do you see yourself being able to address these concerns?
Implementing a tiered positive behavioral intervention and support (PBIS) framework across all school ages is imperative. This support should begin with our pre-K population in the District. There are federal dollars and national technical assistance centers that can support D.C. with the implementation of a model for free. PBIS can be scaled up to students in older grades through restorative practices. Lastly, we need a baseline of mental health services for all schools so that mental health supports are not treated as a consequence for students with significant behaviors but a resource that can be accessed by all.