In Case You Missed It (Now, With Graphs!)

–DCPS is holding strategic planning meetings; sign up is here. (Fun fact: When searching for more information about this, I found a press release for DCPS’s strategic planning . . . from 2012.)

–On November 2, the DC council will hold a hearing for a bill on expedited background checks for teachers. More information is here.

–Despite that expedited bill, the DC council is stalling on bills that would address student transit safety, including a bill to ensure safe routes to school and the walk without worry bill. (Given repeated traffic tragedies, the stalling is inexplicable.)

So, in addition to demanding action on those bills ahead of walk, bike, and roll to school day on October 12, be sure sign a petition to the mayor and council chair to stop the road tragedies by enacting sensible measures like these for safe routes to school.

–Also stalled is a bill to make permanent librarians in each DCPS school. Recall that in summer 2021, the entire DC council (except, notably, council chair Phil Mendelson) voted to provide money so that each DCPS school would have a library and librarian in SY21-22. With the continuing shortage of substitutes, however, librarians themselves are getting pulled into classrooms, which means that a school with a librarian serving most of the time as a substitute (i.e. like Miner last year) effectively has no librarian.

–There is a new contract for DCPS principals, but still no contract for DCPS teachers, who have been experiencing epic turnover.

–Melissa Kim, KIPP/DCPS administrator, is leaving DCPS, apparently to join a billionaire’s privatizing adventure.

–Despite (supposedly) being funded, the law to provide period products to DC schools doesn’t appear to (yet) be fully functional such that all schools have received these products—and DCPS apparently has been blowing off Ward 2 council member Brooke Pinto’s questions about it.

–DCPS schools continued to have HVAC issues near the start of school, while many DCPS security cameras are not working. (No word on DC charter facilities, though everything there is perfect and wonderful except when it isn’t and then no one in DC government has any information because there are 63 different LEAs educating almost half of DC’s students and freedom and privacy and no FOIA and OMG, when will the mayor release another DCPS school building to charters??)

–For council chair Phil Mendelson, the course of school police never did run smooth.

–What looks like a form of money laundering to support DC ed reform candidates is now a thing.

–No, Dorothy, we are not in a better place now WRT the pandemic and DCPS.

–Speaking of the pandemic:

In July, DC’s office of the inspector general published a report on distance learning—but only in DCPS. Per its title (and surprising utterly no one who has lived through the pandemic as a DCPS teacher, student, or parent), the report found that “certain controls designed by DCPS to ensure the availability and equity of distance learning activities were not operating effectively.”

DCPS apparently disagreed with the report’s recommendations to identify students who did not log in; to ensure corrections to attendance records in 15 business days (per the law); and to ensure evidence is maintained to provide as accurate an attendance record as possible. (Yeah.)

And the inspector general was silent about the welfare under distance learning of the almost 50% of DC students who attend charters, who all did really, really well (except when they didn’t, which no one can possibly know about or something).

–Distance learning is not the cause of a general decline in test scores (yes, really).

–Greater Greater Washington does school segregation (spoiler alert: segregation continues, but hey! At least we’re trying really, really hard to make it fairer now).

–DC’s charter schools have raked in cash to the tune of $419 million just lying about doing nothing except being invested. (Oh, and also poaching DCPS families.) In the meantime, there’s still no news about KIPP DC’s missing $2.2 million (which to be fair is but a drop in that bucket o’cash, but rest assured DC does care about something).

While the charter board is apparently investigating the KIPP embezzlement, it’s unclear whether the reported September outline of the board’s steps to “prevent other incidents of fiscal malfeasance in the charter sector” ever came about (I mean, I listened to the charter board’s whole September board meeting, and there wasn’t anything mentioned about fiscal malfeasance that I recall—after which they said goodbye until October, and now it’s the end of September, so maybe the charter board’s in some sort of time continuum different from that of the rest of us or something).

In the meantime, here’s the $419 million question.

–Finally, DC test scores have declined. See the official report here. (DCPS schools generally had less of a decline than charters, though we’re not hearing a lot about that piece.)

Below are graphs outlining the data by way of each school’s at risk percentages; these graphs were created by DCPS parent and education researcher Betsy Wolf and published with her permission. Her test score analysis, including these graphs, is here. As Wolf cautions, schools with low proficiency rates are not “bad”–and schools with high proficiency rates serve mainly students from households above the poverty line. As she notes, the graphs show that no school with more than half its students meeting the definition of at-risk has test results close to those of schools with wealthier students.

And as Wolf pointed out elsewhere, the handwringing on p. 21 of the report–over 66% and 84% of students not proficient in ELA and math, respectively, in SY21-22–is fine and well. But no one appears to have any concerns with the 60% and 76% of students not proficient in ELA and math before the pandemic. (Not to mention this concern.)

All graphs, copyright 2022 Betsy Wolf

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