In The Age of Inequality, Does Public Schooling Make a Difference?

By: Matt Repka, Policy Analyst

Last week, SBOE staff attended a panel event on Capitol Hill on the implications of rising economic inequality on American public education. Titled “In the Age of Inequality, Does Public Education Make a Difference?” and presented jointly by the American Academy of Political and Social Science and the American Educational Research Association, the panel assembled a group of academic researchers who have published extensively on the role of schools in society.

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SBOE Visit to John Hayden Johnson Middle School

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

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Earlier this month, SBOE At-Large member Ashley Carter, Ward 8 member Markus Batchelor, and staff had the opportunity to visit John Hayden Johnson Middle School in Ward 8. We met with Principal Courtney Taylor, who has been leading the school for three years. She explained that Johnson is a “textbook” scenario of a school that serves majority disadvantaged households: currently 10% of the students are reading on level, and 5% of the students are on-level for mathematics. Her vision is to make all 270 students, or “scholars” as they are known at Johnson, academically ready for high school with the goal of exposing scholars to the unexposed – enabling them to explore a potential college or career choice at least once a month.

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Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

By: Maria Salciccioli, Senior Policy Analyst

Earlier this month, I attended the Aspen Institute’s event: The Practice Base for How We Learn: Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. The event was cohosted with the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. I was interested to learn what they’d be saying, in part because the State Board of Education’s ESSA Task Force is examining all aspects of how to provide a well-rounded education, and focusing on students’ emotional as well as academic development is increasingly gaining respect as a key strategy.

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Visit to Chavez Prep Middle School

By: Abby Ragan, Policy Fellow and Matt Repka, Policy Analyst

Last week, two SBOE staff members had the chance to visit a Chavez Prep Middle School open house. Chavez Prep is one of the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy, a DC-based charter school network. Serving grades 6-9, Chavez Prep has served Columbia Heights since 2009.The open house, which attracted several prospective students and their parents, consisted of a presentation by Director of Campus Operations Myisha Trice and introductions to the administrative personnel like Principal Kourtney Miller and Special Education Manager Aireen Sampson before concluding in a tour of the school. The administrators were engaged with the potential students present throughout their presentation, asking questions about their favorite subjects in school or what they would want to buy at the school store.

The Chavez Prep MS motto is “to prepare scholars to succeed in competitive colleges and to empower them to use public policy to create a more just, free, and equal world.” Administrators emphasized a dual focus on college and on public policy: at Chavez Prep, middle schoolers not only prepare for high school, but for college and beyond. They use “warm, but strict” methods and a 1-to-1 laptop-to-student model to aspire for success for their hardworking students. This could be seen through student incentives like a school store where students use credits for good behavior and work to earn small prizes or field trips, “Student of the Week” awards, and charts in hallways that display academic accomplishments and the progress of the whole grade throughout the semester.

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Pre-K Teachers: Ensuring Access to High-Quality Bachelor’s Degrees

By: Abby Ragan, Policy Fellow

On January 26th, New America held an event highlighting the publication of the report Preparing Pre-K Teachers: Envisioning Equitable Pathways to High-Quality Bachelor’s Degrees and creating a space for discussion of the report’s findings. Early childhood education (ECE) is an important phase for cognitive, behavioral, and social development in a child’s life and has been emphasized in recent conversations about the District’s educational landscape, including the February 27th public oversight hearing for Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Thus, early childhood educators have a crucial function; however, the industry is deprofessionalized and the effectiveness of existing higher ed programs are questionable. Therefore, New America and Bellwether Education Partners posit that “the training that pre-K teachers have, and the compensation they receive, often don’t match the complexity or importance of their work.”

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SBOE Visit to DCI School

By: Abby Ragan, Policy Fellow

Earlier this week, Ward 3 representative Ruth Wattenberg, Ward 4 representative Lannette Woodruff and SBOE staff visited the new campus of DC International School. The group was welcomed by Principal Simon Rodberg and taken on tours of the building by pairs of student ambassadors. The SBOE team was able to sit down for a roundtable discussion with Principal Rodberg, Ms. Deirdre Bailey, the grades 9/10 Assistant Principal, Allison Sandusky, the Director of Student Culture and Lauren Games, the Communications Associate.

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DCI is a Tier 1 school serving grades 6-10 (with plans to expand to 6-12) with a one-to-one technology system based on three areas: International Baccalaureate, Student Agency, and Language Immersion. DCI plans to provide IB program offerings in both the Diploma and Careers tracks. DCI students are from all 8 wards, but a majority are from wards 1, 4, and 5- the same wards where DCI’s feeder schools are located. 51% of DCI students qualify for free or reduced lunch while 14% of the population receive special education services. These demographics present a diverse student body with varied opportunities and interests in clubs such as Baking, Debate, Sewing, Italian cooking, Star Wars, Homework Help, and Rock Band.

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