And While DCPS Isn’t Providing Equitable, Stable, And Adequate Budgets . . .

here’s some other recent stuff going down in DC’s largest LEA:

–DCPS used covid recovery funds to pay a school bus company even when the company’s operating license was suspended. Shortly thereafter, DCPS students were traveling on one of the buses when its inebriated driver had an accident.

–Speaking of money mysteries: DCPS has not been vetting its contracts with the DC Council, per the law. (Wonder how—and by whom–that was discovered.)

–Another DCPS school playground has actionable lead levels. (Recall almost 20 DCPS playgrounds several years ago were discovered to have high lead levels; no word on charter playgrounds as there is no mandated testing for those because freedom!)

–DCPS’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts faces an existential crisis because of a proposed “takeover” by DCPS (which Duke was always part of, but whatev). Listen to what this means to Duke parents, teachers, and students.

–Since returning Head Start funds in 2020, DCPS has apparently not regained them. But that didn’t stop DCPS from putting out a recent report on schools with Head Start funds (presumably gifted to DCPS from another agency). Those DCPS schools constitute a small fraction of the schools that had Head Start funding before 2020.

–Speaking of missing things, where is REIGN? (Recall it was a project to empower young women, brought about in 2017 by former chancellor Antwan Wilson, and now is apparently consigned . . . somewhere.)

–Years after horrifying testimony about terrible facility conditions and enactment of the PACE Act, to ensure equity in DCPS modernizations, we still have modernization inequity.

(Fun fact: On March 1, assistant DCPS principal and former Ward 6 state board candidate Joshua Wiley testified in the mega DC Council education performance oversight hearing about horrific building conditions at his unrenovated school, Whittier, including fire code, disability, and safety violations (see it starting at the 50 minute, 27 second mark). His few minutes at the mic, along with the testimony of the Phelps principal, who spoke of variable climate zones at that school, really brought back memories.)

–Despite Whittier going without capital money, a recent commitment of >$100 million for capital projects to expand Ward 3 DCPS schools is apparently not enough: The ward’s new council member is calling for some more to purchase the former Whittle School building, echoing an ANC plea for the same.

–A private organization that is the brainchild of billionaire (and never teacher) Laurene Powell Jobs, XQ was contracted by DCPS in late 2021 or early 2022 to “disrupt” several DCPS high schools. About a year ago, after I signed up for an XQ information session, XQ appeared unable to acknowledge that it never sent me a link to that March 2022 meeting nor understood that I never did attend.

Nonetheless, I have been getting XQ emails ever since—a total of 11, in fact, all unsolicited but much appreciated if for no other reason than their studious avoidance of XQ’s failure rate and its slightly checkered history.

Yet in the space of two weeks in December 2022, I began receiving what I can only describe as desperate XQ emails.

The first, with the subject line “We’d like to know your name,” began with a curious imperative: that “it’s time to come back together.” Now, I don’t mean to be silly, but if we were in fact once together, wouldn’t XQ already know my name?

But the email didn’t appear to be concerned with that logic, instead expressing a desire to be “more personal in our communications” by asking for an “update” of my first (but presumably not last) name:

I did not reply. A few days later, I received a second email, which was identical to the first but for the subject line “we don’t mean to pester you, but can you please update us?”

I again did not reply, figuring that if it had been almost a year in which XQ had my email and kept sending me information, they could certainly handle not having my first name.

But the next two emails I soon thereafter received from XQ were downright odd, with the first having a subject line “our last attempt to update your contact info” and expressing the same desire to “update” my first name, while the next email had the subject line “are we breaking up?” It’s below.

If all of this strikes you as, well, creepy, that may be a feature. Recall that in December 2021–before any DCPS parent was told about XQ–DCPS teachers were asked to organize students for interviews for XQ, even as some teachers (and their school administrators) apparently did not know the purpose of the interviews and appropriate protocols (including obtaining consent) were not followed.

So, to summarize:

No REIGN, XQ creepiness, modernization inequity, lead on playgrounds, few Head Start funds, no vetting of contracts, more school capital money desired for the wealthiest ward with some of the fewest public school students, and using covid funds for a suspended bus company—oh, and budget horrors.

Be sure to tune in to the next education mega hearing tomorrow, March 3, starting at 9:30 am and see if any of this makes the cut for discussion with government witnesses.

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