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DC School Reform Now is educating, organizing and advocating to build support for public education strategies that prepare kids to become college and career ready.

December 2011 Newsletter

District & Charter News

A new Early Stages Center opened in Ward 7 on November 8th, 2011. The Early Stages Center provides a place for young children, ages 3-5, to be evaluated on their readiness to enter school. Learn more here.

A Public Charter School Board meeting was held on Monday, November 21st, 2011. The board decisions made during that meeting can be found here.

On November 30th, 2011 DCPS held a FY13 budget hearing as required by the D.C. Official Code. The event was called by the Chancellor to provide an opportunity for the community to give public comment about the upcoming fiscal year budget. This year, 12 community members testified and no formal decisions were discussed. DCPS says final decisions will be forthcoming.

On Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 the DC Public Charter School Board released their Performance Management Framework (PMF) which ranks the city’s charter schools on a number of criteria including test scores, re-enrollment rates and attendance. Each charter school was placed in three tiers according to their score on a 100 point scale—with Tier 1 being the highest ranking schools. Read more here.

Meet an Outstanding DC Educator

Meet Samir Paul

What is the best piece of advice a teacher ever gave you?

Charlie Friedman, the school director at my first teaching job, also had a great thought about small victories: If you walk around your entire life looking for a $100 bill on the street, you may never find one.  But there are tons of pennies sitting around the street, if only someone would notice them, pick them up, and shine them.  Every single student in your class mastering all the material is a $10 moment.  Winning teacher of the year is a $100 moment.  Having an inspirational teacher movie made about you is probably a "blank check" moment.  Those may never happen.  But every day, there's at least one small victory—a penny moment—that you can take to the bank, and those start to add up.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Meet an Outstanding DC Activist

Meet Alice Speck

What is the hardest part of the work that you do?

The hardest part of my work is getting those in positions of power to engage with the community in an instrumental way. Every day I come across parents who want to have a more meaningful dialogue with the people responsible for their kids’ education, and they’re frustrated.


Read the rest of the interview here.

In Case You Missed It: Must Reads

A newly-released study finds that the transition into middle school from elementary school is actually the most critical to future student success. Read about it here.

Chancellor Kaya Henderson named one of the “7 most powerful educators in the world” by Wendy Kopp in Forbes magazine. Read it here.

An assessment of education reform post Michelle Rhee and Chancellor Henderson’s “second-generation” brand of reform. Read it here.

Bill Turque highlights possible problems with the early retirement provision in the 2010 Washington Teacher’s Union contract. Read about it here.

Study in Minnesota reveals that an achievement gap exists before students enter Kindergarten. Read it here.

This article highlights the low number of minority teachers and the need to increase the number of people of color in the classroom. Read it here.

Bill Turque covers DCPS’s proposal of new middle schools in Ward 5. Read about it here.

How parents can and should raise the academic achievement of their students. Read it here.

Lisa Gartner examines the surge in enrollment in the DC school voucher program. Read it here.

Bill Turque and Michael Allison Chandler discuss DC’s approach to No Child Left Behind waivers. Read it here.

Lisa Gartner discusses the rising poverty rate for DC students. Read it here

Lisa Gartner and Bill Turque discuss the DC Public Charter School Board’s release of the Performance Management Framework here and here.

What is New with DC School Reform Now?

DC School Reform Now has officially kicked off our High Quality Schools Campaign. The High Quality Schools Campaign aims to educate parents about the characteristics of a high quality school, principal and teacher through parent-friendly materials, workshops, school tours, principal coffees, classroom observations, out-of-boundary and charter application support, school enrollment support and parent advocacy training.

The campaign will be managed by Etoy Ridgnal who has deep experience in community organizing and parent education and empowerment. Etoy and team will spend the month of December meeting with the schools leaders of our five partner schools and beginning initial parent outreach. We will be working with the parents of exiting fifth graders at DC Scholars Stanton Elementary, Simon Elementary, CW Harris Elementary, Arts & Technology Academy Public Charter School and DC Bilingual Public Charter School to help parents navigate their school options to find the highest quality middle school for their students.

Continue to visit our website for updates about the High Quality Schools Campaign.

Get Involved

Want to learn more about DCPS’s high school online application process or want help filling out the application? Meet at Shaw Middle School at 2001 Tenth St NW, on Monday, December 5th, 2011 from 6:00-8:00pm or on Wednesday, December 7th, from 6:00-8:00pm at Phelps ACE HS, 704 26th Street NE.

Are you interested in a career at DC Public Schools (DCPS)? DC Public Schools is seeking highly motivated and talented individuals to join their team. Come to a networking event on Wednesday, December 7th from 6:00-7:15 pm at DCPS’s Offices at 1200 First Street NE, 10th Floor to hear about the exciting work being done to support DCPS schools in the offices of Data and Accountability and Special Education. Connect with senior leaders and hiring managers to learn about current opportunities in both offices.

Join Trayon White, Ward 8 State Board of Education Representative, and the Washington Teachers' Union for their Parent Empowerment Night. Enjoy a discussion of key issues facing Ward 8 Public Schools as well as dinner and a laptop giveaway on Thursday, December 8, 2011 from 6:00-8:00pm at Wilkinson Elementary School  at 2330 Pomeroy Road, SE.

Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown announces the scheduling of a Public Hearing by the Committee of the Whole on B19-0045, the “District of Columbia Community Schools Incentive Amendment Act of 2011”. The public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The purpose of the public hearing is to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on the proposed bill, and the establishment of the schools incentive initiative to award multi-year grants to incentivize the establishment of no less than five new community schools.

Interested in charter schools? You should attend the DC Public Charter School Board monthly meeting on Monday, December 19th, 2011 from 7:30-9:30pm at the Board Headquarters on 3333 14th Street, NW, Suite 210.

Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown announces the scheduling of a Public Hearing by the Committee of the Whole on B19-0576, the “Highly Effective Teacher Incentive Act of 2011”. The public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, December 21, 2011, at 12:00 p.m. in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The purpose of the public hearing is to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on the proposed legislation to encourage highly effective teachers to teach in high-need public schools and to require the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, in collaboration with the Mayor and other District agencies, to create a plan to implement the program.

Have you ever been to a State Board of Education Meeting?  If not, attend the DC State Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 from 5:30-7:30pm at 441 4th St NW.

Find details about all of the events above and more at the Events section of our website.  

DCPS students will be out of school on winter break starting Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 and returning to school on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012.

The DC Public Charter School Board will be holding a series of community meetings to discuss the results of the Performance Management Framework. Come learn more about your school’s scores. More information here.

Do you know an outstanding DC educator or community member who should be honored in next month’s newsletter? If so, send an email to and tell us about them!


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