–On November 16, DCPS is holding its annual (mandated) budget meeting; sign up is here. Per history, expect a tightly controlled official narrative; limited testimony with no official response; and finishing within seconds of the announced ending.
—Here is a helpful list of school-based mental health providers, by school, from the DC department of behavioral health. Sadly, the boxes marked “vacant” or N/A seem to outnumber the actual clinicians.
–DC is still awaiting official word from the charter board regarding its steps after the discovery of $2 million embezzled from KIPP DC. Recall that in early September, it was reported that at some (unspecified) public hearing in September, the charter board would “highlight the steps it has taken and will take in the future to prevent other incidents of fiscal malfeasance in the charter sector.”
But aside from its regularly scheduled monthly board meetings, the charter board has held no public hearings on this matter AFAIK. And at its two most recent board meetings (September and October), not a word was mentioned about the malfeasance. That said, on October 18, charter board director of finance Michael Bayuk told me that the board was “continuing to gather information and review it” and expects to have a “robust conversation” sometime in November or December.
–While DFER spending in DC politics is apparently breaking its own records, DC now can boast yet another dark money group with some of the same DFER players (who apparently like their political influence like their schools: rich and private). No word on whether any of those outrageously large sums will actually be used to help any school.
–And speaking of players:
The head of DC’s office of the state superintendent of education (OSSE), Christina Grant, was a featured speaker at a kick-off event last month of a new political group focused on east of the Anacostia politics. The contact person for the group, Brendan Williams-Kief, is a board member for Washington Latin, while the apparent business behind the group is nowhere near EOTR (naturally). Here is that business’s leadership team.
No word on what it means for a supposedly neutral public servant speaking at a political event. (Related: My at large state board representative, Jacque Patterson, has apparently blocked me from his official [11/17/22 update: except it’s apparently not the official one; see comments below] twitter feed (@DC_Edvocate), so I cannot anymore see from my twitter feed this picture of Christina Grant at this event.)
–At large council member Anita Bonds apparently believes that everyone who wishes to speak to the people representing them should register as a lobbyist. Though it is troubling that DC taxpayers not paid to travel to (much less talk with) people in the Wilson Building (our city hall!) could be mistaken for those who are paid to show up there, I can get behind this effort—with the caveat that those of us who make $0 for showing up get their $250 lobbyist registration fee waived.
After all, it’s just a small step to ensure our elected officials won’t have any more difficulties discerning the difference between parents and students who show up, unpaid, to save their schools–and the highly paid folks who rent entire rooms at the Wilson Building, feed staff and appointed and elected officials for days on end, and then testify that they are really grass roots. It’s time to end the confusion once and for all!
–And speaking of money and influence: the private (and well-remunerated!) group PAVE is apparently offering up to $300 per person (!) for responding to their surveys. Expect folks in the Wilson Building to eagerly use those PAVE surveys as evidence of, uh, something, while expressing condemnation of PTAs fundraising to pay for school staff that DCPS refuses to pay for.
–Ward 4 council member Janeese Lewis George last month introduced new legislation to have staff members sign off on closed work order tickets at DCPS schools. As she notes, work orders are often closed without either a permanent fix or any work done. Despite its common sense, this bill may face the same fate as Lewis George’s safe routes to school bill, so perhaps best to expect nothing until it is combined with something proposed by at large council member Christina Henderson.
–A report is out on the deployment (and hence money!) around high-impact tutoring in DC. No word yet on whether the tutoring worked.
–Well-connected developers will likely get a piece of the public property of closed elementary school Malcolm X. Fascinatingly, the hearing for the legislation to give away that public parcel has a public record featuring by my count 57 IDENTICAL letters of support for this development, signed by at least that many different people whose identity and residence is never noted. Perhaps predictably, one of the committee chairs overseeing this disposition, outgoing Ward 5 council member Kenyan McDuffie, is running for an at large seat and is a direct beneficiary of the new dark money group.
In the meantime, the kids who live near the closed Malcolm X school have seats of right at a school more difficult for them to get to, Malcolm X at Green. Indeed, that school’s principal testified on March 28 at the DCPS budget oversight hearing (video here, starting at the 10 hour, 27 minute mark) that her school building was only ever intended as temporary swing space (9 years running now) and does not have good transit options (unlike the original Malcolm X building, soon to become the new Bard HS). Naturally, Malcolm X at Green has low enrollment and is slated to be renovated years from now, by SY26-27.
Maybe taxpayer parents (or what Anita Bonds might call, in current parlance, preborn registered lobbyists) can hold a betting fundraiser on whether Malcolm X at Green will be closed before it is ever renovated.
–When he didn’t get the nod for the Ward 3 council seat in the primary, Eric Goulet turned around to run for the Ward 3 state board of education seat—and recently sported DCPS school logos in his campaign materials. The only hitch: that appropriation probably violates the law. But as Goulet also apparently sends his children to private school in Maryland, don’t hold your breath for contrition or correction.
–DCPS has spent less than 3% of $195 million in pandemic relief. DC charters spent . . . oh heck, let’s not kid ourselves that anyone in DC office knows or cares about the answer to that.
–Tomorrow, the Brookings Institution will hold a seminar called “Making schools work: How the science of learning can help students thrive.” The invite I received states that “as the divide between resourced & under-resourced schools grows. . . what’s working & what’s not in education has been debated.” So while “under-resourced” schools are acknowledged as a problem, education models (not equitable and/or sufficient funding/resourcing) are the subject of the talk. That’s like knowing money can fix damaged or otherwise problematic roads, but instead of discussing how to get money to fix them, we hold seminars on ways drivers can cope with the damage. (Come to think of it, maybe the damage is the point.)
–Finally, the deputy mayor for education is soliciting bids for the master facilities plan (solicitation number Doc633523) and the boundary study (solicitation number Doc630168), both of which are slated to be done by the end of 2023. Bids are due by 2 pm on November 21. Expect any announcement of closures to precede both.