Good Trouble: Re-Opening DCPS Edition

So literally a day after DCPS held a public forum on October 6, on its forced march to re-open on November 9, the school system fired (or removed or forced to resign, depending on your source) the principal of School Without Walls HS and and School Without Walls @Francis-Stevens. Together, those two campuses comprise one of DCPS’s largest schools, with more than 1,000 students in grades preK through 12.

Whether the fate of Principal Richard Trogisch was due to DCPS’s allegation of an enrollment “anomaly”; ongoing concerns about admissions to the selective high school he helmed for years; and/or his apparent objection to re-opening (and widely claimed lack of readiness for it) is still, apparently, unclear.

But one thing remains crystal clear: Removing the principal of a large school in the midst of a global pandemic that has forced huge changes everywhere has only added to the confusion, fear, and unhappiness behind DCPS plans to re-open.

For instance, back on October 6, a day after the mayor announced that DCPS would re-open (see the announcement here and the video here), DCPS held an evening informational session (you can try and see if the video to that session is here).

At that evening event, there were literally hundreds of questions and comments from the public (see here for a compilation). Despite some answers being given, countless concerns remain, which have prompted all manner of good trouble, including

–a letter from council members demanding answers about Walls;

–a petition from the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) to safely re-open schools (sign here);

–a petition to invest in outdoor education (sign here); 

–a petition to reinstate Principal Trogisch (sign here);

–expressions of soldiarity regarding safely re-opening schools (see here and  see here);

–a new blog on safe re-opening of schools;

–timely recognition that Walls is only the latest DCPS school to have the rug pulled out from under it and enjoys political capital that other DCPS schools can only dream of;

–and a petition to end mayoral control of schools (sign here). 

Now, as awful as last week was (well, for anyone who thinks democracy is a nice idea), it was not without its comic moments here in DC (oh, and with a certain high-profile insect).

Take the spectacle of Jerry Jellig, a high-ranking (and high-paid!) DCPS official hired in July 2019, who for about half an hour on October 8 remained silent in the face of protesting Walls parents, students, and teachers, literally out-maneuvering them in a car with NJ plates. His, uh, interesting time in NJ notwithstanding (see here and see here), Jellig is apparently not alone in maintaining ties to other jurisdictions while serving (or aspiring to serve) the DC public.

Anyhoo, the next informational meeting on re-opening DCPS is slated for October 14, at 6 pm; for more information about it, see here.

In the meantime, here are a few resources for more good trouble:

–Basic draft guidelines from WTU on safely re-opening (see here and here) and a WTU letter on DCPS teaching assignments for re-opening here.

–A timeline of events at, and advocacy for, Walls. 

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