Winter Happenings 2023

–The office of the state superintendent of education (OSSE) is now receiving public comment on draft menstrual health education standards until midnight on February 20. You can email OSSE.HYDT@DC.GOV with your comments on the draft standards, available here. See here for additional information.

OSSE is apparently hoping the DC state board of education (SBOE) will vote on this on February 15 in time for implementation for SY23-24. [1/25/23 CORRECTION: The SBOE will vote on this, per OSSE’s request, on March 15]

Yes, that is [not] before the end of the public comment period (see the SBOE meeting where these were discussed on January 11, starting at the 47 minute, 20 second mark). These standards are mandated by a law passed in March 2022 called the “Expanding Student Access to Period Products Act” (DC Law 24-92), which calls for free period products in every DC school as well as updated health education standards around periods, including hygiene and pain management, disorders, and basic biology related to menstruation.

While it’s not clear when the period products will appear in all (any?) schools, as with the revisions to DC’s social studies standards OSSE appears determined to forge ahead with these standards for next school year.

–The DC Council has published its performance and budget oversight schedules, with hearings starting this week. Once again, we have mammoth hearings for education agencies, in the midst of which the mayor will transmit her budget to the council on March 22.

Performance Oversight

February 28: Department of General Services (DGS), noon to 6 pm [public witnesses only]

March 1: DCPS, OSSE, deputy mayor for education (DME), public charter school board (PCSB), SBOE, office of student advocate, ombudsman for public education, 9:30 am- 6 pm [public witnesses only]

March 2: DGS, noon to 6 pm [government witnesses only]

March 3: DCPS, OSSE, DME, PCSB, SBOE, 9:30 am- 6 pm [government witnesses only]

Budget Oversight

April 5: DCPS, OSSE, DME, PCSB, SBOE, office of student advocate, ombudsman for public education, 9:00 am- 6 pm [public witnesses only]

April 6: DGS, 9 am-noon [public witnesses only]

April 6: DGS, 3-6 pm [government witnesses only]

April 7: DCPS, OSSE, DME, PCSB, SBOE, 9:00 am- 6 pm [government witnesses only]

UPDATE 1/30/23: There are a few more related hearings:

February 1: Hearing around the contract between DCPS teachers’ union (WTU) and DCPS. More information is here. (The hearing is only open to government witnesses and WTU reps.)

February 13: Hearing around initial DCPS budgets. More information and witness sign up is here

–Some recent bills concerning our schools include one to ensure all DC schools provide all students free meals. This was introduced by at large council member Christina Henderson, whose bill on expedited background checks for educators passed in December, despite concerns that it might be endangering kids.

Henderson also recently introduced a bill to make OSSE set standards around recruiting and training out of school time providers specifically for students with special education needs or individualized education programs.

At the same time, a number of legislative initiatives appear stagnant or DOA, including an SBOE resolution asking to change DC school governance (among other things, giving SBOE the power to appoint the head of OSSE) and legislation to ensure school librarians are in every DCPS school.

Thus, given the success of Henderson’s work and the fate of the otherwise excellent safe routes to school bill (subsumed and somewhat defanged by a bill proposed by Henderson), it’s probably best to expect nothing from any education bills until they are combined with, or otherwise replaced by, something proposed by Henderson.

[Confidential to ANC3B: Despite your urging the council to buy the campus of the shuttered Whittle School, Ward 3 really needs no more capacity–not to mention that the building would likely cost more to acquire than the assessed value of any DCPS school. But if universal preK3 is the hill you want to die on, you might want to get a bill for that purpose introduced by Christina Henderson, as she’s apparently the closest thing DC has to an DC council education committee chair.]

–The happy news that the DCPS teachers’ contract was approved in December was tempered by news that the contract was not forwarded to the DC Council until literally just the other day.

Naturally, there is also the tiresome argument that if DCPS gets funding for the contract, DC charters deserve it, too.

Thankfully, C4DC headed this off at the pass, noting that there is utterly no legal obligation to give charters an equal amount of money—not to mention that even if charters get that extra money, it’s no guarantee their teachers will see a dime.

Not sure yet of any word on either point, but rest assured:

Council chair Phil Mendelson is promising a roundtable possibly on February 1 (which will presumably discuss the inability of the mayor to walk down the hallways of the Wilson Building with the contract in hand). Mendelson is also concerned about where the money is coming from and “parity with the charter sector.” Naturally, such concern about parity couldn’t possibly be related to the thousands Mendelson got in campaign contributions from “the charter sector.”

–The DME completed its study of school athletics—see here for more background information as well as here. A few weeks ago, the Hill Rag had an excellent outline of DC school athletics—it’s well worth the read for the public service of unpacking a sports landscape now complicated by 60-some LEAs.

–PAVE recently sent out a notice to its parent members about in person meetings at the Wilson Building starting this week with DC council members, staff, and mayoral appointees. It outlined the meals it would provide all week (breakfast, lunch, and afternoon pastries and coffee), along with a celebration at the Conrad Hotel on Friday evening . . . with an open bar.

(Nice to know PAVE is using its millions in annual revenue to wine and dine its members, staff, and legislators—you know, like lobbying firms.)

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