Why DC Needs Independent Education Data: Ellington Edition

So, a DC education agency makes mistakes–a lot of them, turns out–in determining who is a resident of DC at one DCPS high school (Ellington).

Then, in the wake of several lawsuits, the agency quietly issues an (undated) report that shows (but doesn’t admit) how the agency made a lot of mistakes, and then–well, read it all here. (Along with a little light background reading.)

A few questions spring to mind:

–What follow up is being done (and by whom)?
–Will there be a council hearing?
–What is the status of other residency investigations?
–Why is information about the Ellington investigation so hard to find in one place on the website of OSSE? (Here’s what a search turned up.)
–Was Ellington targeted for such seemingly outsize residency scrutiny (and if so, why)?
–Will a portion of the Ellington building be set aside as a school of right for students from overcrowded Wilson, as apparently discussed in some (private) circles?

In the meantime, an Ellington student who was homeless has a gofundme page to help pay tuition for her senior year; she is currently staying with her grandparents in Maryland (who cannot pay), while tuition is being charged to her until she can prove her homelessness. (Yeah.)

Funny how every last thing about DC education data always seems to come down to money:

Recall that a whole lot of people didn’t want an independent data collaborative for DC’s public schools. (A former Ed. Secretary even wrote a Post editorial about it!)

Recall also that a whole lot of (the same?) people have money riding on DC education data being controlled by someone other than Jane & Joe Public.

Hmm: Maybe, if you haven’t already, you might give the council a little jingle about DC’s need for independent education data.

2 thoughts on “Why DC Needs Independent Education Data: Ellington Edition

  1. It seems as though OSSE does not have a proper method/procedure for verifying DC residence BEFORE a child is enrolled in a school and they have shifted the blame for it onto the Ellington parents, students and faculty, creating completely unnecessary stress and trauma and embarrassment to the public in the process. I mean, whatever happened to innocent until PROVEN guilty?
    That part of the DC government seems to do very well in getting federal dollars into the hands of charter schools and their third party support organizations, but fails badly in such critical operations as creating a process of residency verification for all publicly funded schools that can be easily, accurately, and consistently done so that it results in reliable information that a person can trust.
    That report without a date just deepens my doubt that your extremely important question about why this ugliness has befallen just one school will ever receive a real, truthful, and explanatory answer.
    It is both maddening and frightening that so many extremely important things about DC schools are in the hands of a part of the government that slings around accusations so recklessly instead of reviewing its own work for flaws and correcting those first!


  2. If it were just residency, or just Ellington, this all would be much easier to address. But it’s hardly limited to that: it’s the fact that reporters alerted us to graduation problems; it’s that the city refused to investigate all schools for that; it’s that we have different rules for, and different ways to address, our two sectors of schools, while city education leaders refuse to recognize fundamental legal differences between the sectors; it’s that we have facilities information that is by design missing for a chunk of our publicly funded schools; it’s the amazingly bad way in which Ellington was handled, with utter silence about other schools or thoughts about changing how residency is confirmed; and it’s the push to not have independent education data, whether with the proposed laws for making OSSE more independent or having an independent research collaborative. Fearing the public and advantaging private gain is a terrible way to run a public education system–and yet that seems to be the bottom line for all of this.


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