Open Letter to Mayor Bowser, Chairman Mendelson and the DC Council on 2020 Education Priorities
January 28, 2020
Dear Mayor Muriel Bowser, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Members of the Council of the District of Columbia,
We are parents, educators, advocates, and members of the diverse communities of the District of Columbia. We write to you today about the promise of what is possible when we build a shared vision that invests in the District’s future — our children.
As recently highlighted by the DC Policy Center’s State of D.C. Schools report, our students and schools face substantial challenges including high levels of segregation, deep concentrations of poverty, and unacceptable opportunity gaps. In many cases, these challenges are accelerating. To support an inclusive and equitable District of Columbia for all our residents, we must address the inequities within our public schools.
We call on you, our elected leadership, to double down on successful reforms and deploy new and innovative strategies to both build on progress made and address the challenges that remain.
By strengthening the schools and programs that are already effectively serving our students and creating new opportunities and building new supports for the schools and students who need them the most, we will ensure that all public school students have the resources and opportunities they need to be successful. The most recent revenue projections from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer underscore that the District has the resources to better serve its students — all that is needed now is action.
We call on the District’s elected leadership to move expeditiously to implement the foundations of a true equity and opportunity agenda for education in the District through the following first steps this year:
· Ensure schools are funded sufficiently to support their students, staff and programmatic needs in the coming school year by increasing the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) base funding by at least 4 percent in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
· Provide schools the resources needed to equitably serve all students by increasing the weight for “at-risk” students to, at a minimum, align with the .37 funding weight recommended by the 2013 Adequacy Study.
· Expand access to high-quality schools for students who need them the most by creating a voluntary admissions preference for “at-risk” students.
· Renew and extend the annual 2.2 percent increase in the charter schools facilities allotment that was enacted in 2015 to promote predictability and eliminate uncertainty in the school planning process.
· Continue to explore innovative school facilities solutions, ensure timely access to excess school buildings for public charter schools, and dedicate a portion of the lease proceeds generated by co-locations of public charter schools within DCPS schools to the school-level budget of the “host” DCPS school.
· Create, support and grow the kinds of great schools — both new and existing — that families and communities want, particularly in the neighborhoods that lack the high-quality options they deserve.
These priorities are broadly supported both across the District’s education community and by residents at large. What’s more, they would make a meaningful difference for District students and serve as an essential first step in expanding opportunities for all public school students.
We thank you for your leadership and stand ready to support you in this work.
Peter Timothy Anderson, Head of School, Washington Latin PCS*
Maquita Alexander, Executive Director, Yu Ying PCS
Katherine B. Bradley
Patricia A. Brantley, CEO, Friendship Public Charter Schools
Maya Martin Cadogan, Executive Director, Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE)
Alison Collier, Co-Executive Director, Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS)
Hilary Darilek, CEO, E.L. Haynes PCS
Ramona Edelin, Executive Director, DC Association of Chartered Public Schools
Wendy Edwards, Executive Director, Early Childhood Academy PCS
Rachel Evans, Executive Director, CityBridge Education
Monica Green, Founder and Executive Director, Capital Village PCS
Nicole Hanrahan, Head of School, LAYC Career Academy
Shawn Hardnett, CEO and Founder, Statesman College Preparatory Academy for Boys
Erika Harrell, Organizing and Outreach Manager, Education Reform Now Advocacy
Anne Herr, Co-Executive Director, Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS)
Carrie Irvin, CEO and Co-Founder, Education Board Partners
Stacy Kane, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Washington Leadership Academy
Justin Lessek, Executive Director, The Sojourner Truth School
Myron Long, Executive Director, The Social Justice School
Laura Maestas, CEO, DC Prep
Jack McCarthy, President and CEO, AppleTree Institute for Education
Linda McKay, Executive Director, Mary McLeod Bethune Day Academy
Maura Marino, CEO, Education Forward DC
Chris Pencikowski, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Lee Montessori PCS
Regina Rodriguez, Executive Director, Shining Stars Montessori Academy PCS
Susan Schaeffler, Founder and CEO, KIPP DC
Mary Shaffner, Founder and Executive Director, DC International School
Joyanna Smith, Executive Director, Rocketship PCS
Will Stoetzer, CEO, Ingenuity Prep
Karen Venable-Croft, Executive Director, Girls Global Academy
Raymond Weeden, Executive Director, Thurgood Marshall Academy
Fmr. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, CEO and Executive Director, Federal City Council
Deborah Dantzler Williams, Head of School, Inspired Teaching Demonstration PCS
Russ Williams, Executive Director, Center City PCS
Shantelle Wright, Founder and CEO, Achievement Prep PCS
Tracy Wright, CEO, Paul Public Charter School
Jessica Wodatch, Executive Director, Two Rivers Public Charter School
*All organization references are for identification purposes only. All signees have signed on in their individual capacity.