Better School Quality Measures–And Hearings

Herein a rundown of events on the horizon:

DCPS calendar feedback: DCPS is soliciting feedback on calendar proposals. See here for more information. School will start August 26 (traditional calendar) or August 12 (extended year calendar).

OSSE school report card feedback: The office of the state superintendent of education (OSSE) would like your thoughts on the new STAR rating system and report cards for our publicly funded schools. See here for the survey and here for the report card website. (And see here and here and here for a beginning primer on how the report cards work IRL.) If you find it odd that your child’s school is now being rated like dog leashes or car tires, you may find some solace in . . .

A Better Way to Measure School Quality: On January 26, from 10:30 am until noon, researcher Jack Schneider will be at Columbia Heights Education Campus (3101 16th Street NW) to talk about his work on measuring school quality. Childcare is provided! For more information, see this flyer. Please rsvp here.  This event is co-sponsored by the following local good people/orgs. doing good work for the greater good: Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators; Teaching for Change; Ward 1 Education Council, CHPSPO, EmpowerEd, Ward 4 Education Alliance, Ward 7 Education Council

Education committee open house: The education committee of the DC city council  is holding an open house on January 23, from 6-7:30 pm, in room 116 of the Wilson building (our city hall, at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). If you wish, you can rsvp here. As part of a shake-up after the election, council chair Phil Mendelson decided that the council’s committee of the whole (i.e., all council members) would be a co-leader of all education committee hearings and business.

And speaking of hearings . . .

Attendance accountability hearing: On January 31, at 10 am, the education committee and committee of the whole (COW) will hold a hearing with government witnesses on this topic. Expect an interesting show that continues the, uh, conversation started last year (see here and here for starters). Witnesses were unconfirmed as of this moment, but the public is invited to submit written testimony.

Public roundtables on the proposed DCPS chancellor, Lewis Ferebee: The city council committee on education (not with the COW!) will be holding two public roundtables on Ferebee: January 30, 6 pm at Ron Brown High School, 4800 Meade St. NE and February 6, 6 pm at Cardozo, 1200 Clifton St. NW. You can sign up to testify here. (For a primer on Ferebee and why the council ought to proceed with caution, check out the public service writing in this and this.) The council will likely hold a formal hearing on Ferebee after these roundtables.

Transparency in at risk funds: On February 1 at 10 am, the education committee and COW will hold a hearing on transparency in the use of at risk funds, which is a natural place to also discuss proposed legislation to ensure better reporting of at risk funds in our schools. You can get more information about testifying here, and you can see more about the legislation here. Given the, uh, historical issues surrounding use of at risk funds, trying to ensure the funds are used appropriately seems like a no brainer–thus, expect controversy.

Performance oversight and budget hearings: Sometime in February and March, the city council will hold these hearings for DCPS; the charter board; the deputy mayor for education; and OSSE. Expect the hearings for OSSE to have a component related to the re-appointment of Hanseul Kang as head of OSSE. (If you need a refresher on Kang’s efforts in DC, see her agency’s work on combining scores of different PARCC math tests at the same grade; and her agency’s interesting interpretations of the Healthy Schools Act; and her agency’s efforts to have different scrutiny for DCPS and charter schools; and her agency’s fascinating oversight of residency fraud and issues with the lottery; and her agency’s work against an independent education data initiative; and, of course, her agency’s major role in the Ellington residency debacle, which has now had several lawsuits associated with it.)

Hearing for B23-0051: Also sometime in February or March, the city council may hold a hearing for proposed legislation on establishing more dual language programs in DCPS. See the legislation here. Despite its good intentions, issues around inequitable access (and just finding the funding) could prove difficult.

[Confidential to the DC council: speaking of good intentions, how about legislation to ensure that OSSE regulates providers of alternative education services for kids suspended from charter schools? Right now, as explosive reporting recently revealed, those providers are completely unregulated in our charter schools. Here’s an advertisement that Friendship just placed for one (from this website). See anything in the detailed listing about specific teaching certifications? I didn’t.]

4 thoughts on “Better School Quality Measures–And Hearings

  1. Your link to the text of Councilmember Todd’s dual language school bill–and every other link I’ve looked–doesn’t show any text in the attachment that’s supposed to contain the language of the bill. What comes up–on my screen at least–is a file that says page 0 of 0 pages. Does anyone happen to know how to get that text of his bill?

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  2. Thanks, Valerie. Do you know how exactly it will work logistically, procedurally or at over-all with the Education Committee and the Committee of the Whole co-leading education?

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  3. I have NO idea how this will work–but with all of the council members being part of the COW, I think it is more likely that there will be council members showing up to these joint hearings who have not really done so in a long while. The move itself appears to be part of the council chairman’s attempt to oversee education more. The Post ran a piece back when this change happened:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/dc-council-chairman-asserts-more-authority-over-schools/2018/12/20/217c1040-048c-11e9-9122-82e98f91ee6f_story.html?utm_term=.e108176430ec

    This past year, there seemed to be a good number of people unhappy with David Grosso’s tenure at the head of the ed. committee, given all the problems we saw in 2018 with our public school governance, so one could construe Mendelson’s move here as a way to have more control of education and give a boost to the person he himself appointed to the education committee. I dimly recall that when former ed. committee chair David Catania gave up his seat on the council, Mendelson toyed with the idea of getting rid of the ed. committee altogether and simply having the COW do all education oversight. I think Grosso had been floated then as a chair for the ed. committee in a bid to ensure that the ed. committee would continue without anyone at the helm who was as, uh, forceful as Catania–so in a way, this latest move of joint oversight could be seen as a compromise to the initial compromise of the continued existence of the ed. committee under the auspices of Grosso!

    Regardless, all of this really underscores to me the awkward reality of mayoral control in DC, in that we have a legislature that is functionally acting as a school board–and it’s not a thing of beauty. While I as a parent think that the hearts and minds of individual council members are often in the right place WRT what needs to happen with/in our schools, I also know that in my experience, that just isn’t enough. Whether with (a lack of) enforcement of existing laws or difficult-to-track–but yet very real–influence of campaign money on legislation, or the fact that parents cannot advocate in the same way that paid organizers do, or the fact that the council has basically given a pass to oversight of charters, which now educate nearly 50% of our kids, I think one can easily view all the problems we have had since 2007 and mayoral control as an artifact of the council’s struggles with effective school oversight.

    Or to put it another way–we probably could have better school oversight if we just, uh, had a directly elected body whose job was only that AND that was not subject to the same influence peddling. (Yeah, yeah, I know–radical!!!)

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