Here are five actions [3/22: and 1 more added today! See below.] that you can do–most in less than 5 minutes–to help public education and students in DC in some way.
1. Call council chair Phil Mendelson and education committee chair David Grosso and tell them that the newly introduced school transparency bill needs a hearing as soon as possible. The bill would ensure our charter schools follow FOIA; have open meetings; and have representative school boards with students and teachers.
Grosso: 202-724-8105; firstname.lastname@example.org (cc Jessica Giles email@example.com)
Mendelson: 202-724-8032; firstname.lastname@example.org (cc Christina Setlow email@example.com)
Short and sweet: we cannot help our schools and our kids without knowing what happens IN our schools. Both DCPS and our charter schools are publicly funded and thus need to be answerable to the public who funds them. Public involvement in our public institutions is the cornerstone of our democracy—not a burden! (Not to mention that charter schools in 39 states are subject to FOIA. Why not ours?)
2. Sign the WTU petition calling on DCPS to create a better budget for our schools and students immediately. There’s plenty of evidence to show that more than half our students are getting a raw budget deal for next school year. (See the excellent C4DC budget tool for more information.)
3. Seeing stars with the new STAR rating system of our schools, which ensures our schools are being judged by the socioeconomics of their student bodies? Take the “Beyond the STARs” survey by teacher advocacy group EmpowerEd.
4. Did you know that our country is the ONLY one on the whole planet that hasn’t yet ratified the convention of the rights of the child? A DCPS student has created a petition to the president and senate, calling on them to ratify this document, which puts the legal footing and security of children on the same plane as that of adults.
See the petition and sign it here.
5. Unbelievably, lead in water and our environment continues to bedevil our public schools–sign a petition created by a DCPS parent to get the city to test for lead in active construction zones at two schools (and hopefully serve as a template for others similarly under construction).
And here’s yet another chance to help out DC students, added 3/22/19:
For the first time in 10 years, a DCPS school (Ward 7’s HD Woodson HS) is going to the We The People national competition at the end of April, where students show off what they know about the U.S. Constitution. Woodson students won the citywide competition and thus are headed to nationals–but have to pay $3000 to cover the costs (a grant paid for most of the costs, but $3K is what’s left over). Woodson’s students are all from low-income families, so that $3K is a big lift. Here’s how you can help: Their gofundme campaign is here.