Public Feedback: Get Your Word In, While The Getting’s Good

Right now, the office of the deputy mayor for education (DME) is hitting up against quite a few deadlines for public school policies and events:

–The cross sector task force recommendations;
–The (overdue) master facilities plan (MFP); and
–Public feedback on the chancellor selection process

Though members of the cross sector task force recently received a draft set of recommendations (not public, but see prior discussions on the task force website here), it’s not clear when those recommendations will be final nor if there will be any interaction with the public before the recommendations are set in motion by the mayor.

That said, there are two places right now asking for more public input:

The DME’s office recently created a new website for feedback on the MFP

AND

There is also a new survey form on the search for the next DCPS chancellor, available here.

Be sure to add your voice to the mix.

Interestingly, the latter survey for the chancellor selection references the 2016 chancellor search, noting that “an extensive community engagement process” at the time resulted in input from “all 8 wards about the qualities in a Chancellor most important to them.” That in turn resulted in a report issued in October 2016, which the current survey encourages participants to look at, “as we will reference the recommendations captured in this document throughout the survey.”

That leaves out a small detail:

A few weeks after that October 2016 report was issued, the mayor was reportedly interviewing chancellor candidates. Indeed, the head of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU), Elizabeth Davis, inquired about when the chancellor selection panel (on which she sat as a WTU rep) would see candidate resumes, as the law states.

Davis didn’t have long to wait for an answer:

On November 22, the mayor announced that she had selected Antwan Wilson as chancellor. The chancellor selection panel never knew he was a candidate. Unhappiness ensued.

Some things related to that process bear watching now:

In 2016, the meetings of the chancellor selection panel appear to have been announced publicly. (See here and here–from my blog post here.) The first two meetings of the current panel, in July, were not on the DC public calendar, nor are the next two, on October 8 and October 22.

There have also been rumors flying about that a search firm has (or has not) been hired. In 2016, this proved fairly difficult to get public details about. (See my 2016 blog post here for those FOIA results.)

It’s not entirely clear now what is happening on this front–notes of July’s chancellor selection panel meetings mention that a search firm was in the process of being selected. If a firm has been chosen since July, it’s not publicly obvious.

(Notes of the current panel also record that on July 30, 2018, members asked “How will we engage charter stakeholders?”The answer: “solicit letter from PCSB and/or FOCUS.” That would be the public charter school board and a charter advocacy organization.)

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