Millennial Views on Education

By: Maria Salciccioli, Policy Analyst

Last week, The Raben Group hosted Dr. Cathy Cohen from the GenForward Project at the University of Chicago at a panel event titled “Millennials and Education: New Research on America’s Most Diverse Generation.” Dr. Cohen presented rich survey data on millennials’ views on a host of education-related issues. (Millennials were defined as current 18- to 34-year-olds.)

Laura Jimenez, Director of Standards and Accountability at the Center for American Progress, and Dakarai Aarons, Vice President of Strategic Communications at the Data Quality Campaign, joined Dr. Cohen to offer expert analysis of the data, examining potential causes for the trends expressed in the survey data. By the panel’s own admission, Aarons was the only one of the speakers who is himself a member of the millennial generation; nonetheless, all three offered great insights into data, access to education, and challenges in our education system illuminated by survey responses.

Cohen presented data generated in response to a survey that was administered in June and July of 2017, disaggregated by race and ethnicity. Questions included: What is the role of a student’s economic class in determining educational quality? What is the role of race in determining educational quality? Are U.S. schools held accountable for the performance of students of color? What are the best ways to improve education?

Some of GenForward’s findings:

  • Most millennials gave their own education a high grade, but they gave lower grades to U.S. public schools. 26% of black students, 31% of Asian students, 32% of Latino students, and 20% of white students think U.S. schools deserve an A or B letter grade. The rest rate our schools C or lower.
  • Across every racial and ethnic background, in rank order, the top three ideas on how to improve K-12 education were the same: increase school funding, improving teacher training, and increase teacher pay.
  • While slight majorities of black and Asian students said students of color receive a worse education than their white counterparts, slight majorities of Latino and white students responded that race is not a major determinant of educational quality.
  • In contrast, over 70% of students of all races said they believed that low-income students receive a worse education than their white peers.
  • The survey data suggest a majority of millennials support charter schools and school voucher programs, particularly for low-income students, with the strongest support coming from black respondents. However, as the panelists pointed out, neither charters nor vouchers ranked among millennials’ top ideas for improving education, indicating approval for the concepts but not necessarily energy or deep buy-in to either.

According to Cohen, the commonly held assumption that millennials are uniformly more progressive and inclusive than generations before them is not supported by the available data. Those who value equity in education, she argued, must therefore do more to shape public opinion and not simply assume that trends will become more favorable with the passage of time. As an example, Cohen cited responses to a not-yet-published question on whether millennials believed in the existence of the school-to-prison pipeline, noting that white respondents were the least likely to agree that it is a real phenomenon.

Jimenez addressed millennials’ competing interests; millennials want more money in public schools, but they also support publicly funded vouchers, which pull money out of traditional public schools. They want greater levels of personalization, which require more data on individual students, but they also call for fewer tests. She talked about the strong case to be made for fewer, better assessments, which would move schools toward personalization without over-testing.

It would have been admittedly less compelling but useful to see the full set of questions during the presentation; one thing I was curious to see, for example, was the list of options respondents were given when asked to rank the best ways to improve education nationally. Full surveys are available at, and I look forward to reading the full questions and seeing what they’ve asked millennials in the past.

A student from American University asked the panelists’ thoughts on a survey item on extreme speech. Asked if universities should curb extreme speech, black and Latino students supported the idea to a greater extent than their white or Asian peers. Aarons worried about the balance in asking schools to curb extreme speech – which may make minority students feel safer, particularly in our current political climate – and simultaneously ensuring extreme speech limitations are not defined in ways that ultimately disempower minority voices.

I’m interested to see survey respondents’ thoughts about more education issues (while the presentation did not present the full data set, a paper is available online), and I’m glad to hear that there are organizations thinking about next steps and how to have conversations that increase public support for equity. But I also think that those of us who are invested in educational equity have a lot of work to do in terms of changing the hearts and minds of our 18- to 34-year-old peers.


Community Schools Tour at J.O. Wilson

By: Sabrina Hernandez, Policy Fellow

On September 12th, 2017, DC State Board of Education Executive Director John Paul Hayworth, Policy Analyst Maria Salciccioli, and Policy Fellow Sabrina Hernandez visited J.O.Wilson Elementary School in Ward 6 as part of the “Communities in Schools of the National’s Capital” tour. Mr. Hayworth sits on a board that awards grants to schools in the DC area, and this school had received a grant from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). This meeting was with an OSSE grant representative, as well as the organization Communities in Schools (CIS) which is working with the grant money within J.O. Wilson. The representatives of CIS were present, as well as Principal Heidi Haggerty and the site coordinators for CIS. The meeting focused on the many programs and services that CIS provides for the students and families at J.O. Wilson, with an introduction by the principal detailing the issues the school is facing, as well as initiatives that have been successful through the grant.

Principal Haggerty began by explaining how after school programs are extremely important to students and families, and it is important for public schools to have a robust after school program for families  to choose the school. The principal noted that the partnerships that have been possible through the grant have helped to improve the after school experience at J.O Wilson, and specifically Kid Power has been a success. Through the grant, the school also has been able to hire a site coordinator that works through communities in schools to provide services for students in three different tiers of need, with general student population at one, more specific student groups at two, and individual students with needs at three. The principal noted how this model has been helpful in addressing the needs of the larger student population, such as food insecurity, while also providing for individual needs such as child counseling and new shoes. Some material items that have been made possible through the grant are school supplies and backpacks for housing insecure children, as well as weekend food bags from capital area food bank.

Principal Haggerty referenced the DC insight survey for school culture, and noted that the school culture has improved. One issue that the principal focused on extensively was chronic absenteeism. Ms. Haggerty is aware this is a highly concerning issue, as 100 out of 500 students are absent throughout the school year. Something that exacerbates this problem is that 74% of students live outside of the school’s boundary, making it more difficult for them to get to school on time through any weather. The principal is hoping to tackle this issue head on this year, and has an idea of setting up individual meetings with students who have missed more than 15 days to get them individual help. School culture is also affected by new students at the school, the principal noted. This year, she decided to be intentional in setting up a welcoming environment for new students who may be unsure at a new school or are naturally hyper-vigilant as a result of their home environment. She wants students to relax within the school, and not feel that they need to be on the defensive, so she had a  welcoming lunch for new students where she performed a small ritual which involved giving them a medal and welcoming them to the school. She believes this will help new students identify allies within the administration and help them with their sense of safety and security.

J.O. Wilson would also like to move towards including more socio-emotional centered activities, and the grant has helped with a partnership with an organization called Connected Psychology that brings counselors to schools, where students can get individual and group therapy. Other programs and organizational partners made possible by the grant and the school’s continued dedication to holistic student support include Cultivate the Garden, AAA schools public safety patrol, Alice’s kids, EEOC mentors and VSP vision services. The school visit was a great example of how individual administrators, outside community organizations, and grants can all work together to provide services that allow student to be healthy, stable and safe in order to succeed in the classroom.

State Board in the Community

The DC State Board of Education is comprised of 9 board members, one representing each of Washington’s eight wards and one at-large member. Our board members strive to represent the interests of their community members by engaging with teachers, administrators, parents, and students throughout the District. In the coming weeks and months, we will feature highlights from the Board’s community engagement efforts. 

Markus Batchelor (Ward 8) attended the Hart Middle School Outdoor Classroom Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on September 16th.

Lannette Woodruff (Ward 4) spoke at the opening of the new Health Sciences Academy at Coolidge Senior High School on September 1st.

Joe Weedon (Ward 6) attended Maury Elementary’s Parent Teacher Association meeting on September 14th.

Ashley Carter Meets with a Philippine Delegation on Education

On Wednesday, September 3rd, the District of Columbia’s State School Board of Education At-Large Representative, Ashley Carter met with a delegation of 3 educators and school administration professionals from the Philippines. As a part of the International Visitor Leadership Program, the delegates sought to explore a range of perspectives on public, private, and mixed educational models, through discussions with American curriculum specialists, educators, students, school administrators, and school board representatives like Mrs. Carter. Prior to meeting with the DC State Board of Education, the delegation had met with the Houston Public School Board and had plans to meet with the Chicago Public School Board of Education following their trip to DC.

The Philippines is currently undergoing a transformation in their K-10 curriculum, extending their secondary education to include grades 11 and 12; therefore, the delegates will be studying comparative models and ideas for secondary education to inform their work. Their discussion with Ashley Carter largely centered on the separate powers of the organizations which preside over DC public and charter schools. Ms. Carter played an integral role in explaining the role of the SBOE as it pertains to recommending policy, approving policy and representing the interests of each ward in public discourse. Questions from the delegation largely centered on teacher appointment processes and the hierarchal structure within the DC education system. The delegation posed questions on the key differentiators between the public and charter school systems. Overall, the meeting served as a forum to hear international perspectives on the structure of governance within the DC education system. Hopefully, the structure of DC education governance can be used as a model for the Philippines education system. The DC State Board of Education places a high value on diversity of thought and has a commitment to collaboration. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the IVLP in the future.

First #ESSA Task Force Meeting a Success

The ESSA Task Force held its first meeting on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, at 6 p.m. at 441 4th St. NW in Room 1114. The 29 members of the task force began their important work of devising education policy recommendations related to the District’s implementation of ESSA. Representatives from DC Public Schools, the Public Charter School Board, LearnDC, My School DC, and GreatSchools made detailed presentations showcasing the existing school report cards here in the District.

Task force members relished the opportunity to get to know each other and offer their viewpoints on must haves and a wish list for a future template of a school report card. Under the leadership of Ward 4 representative Dr. Lannette Woodruff, the task force will advise the SBOE over the next two years on implementation of DC’s ESSA plan. Task force members include parents, community leaders, education agency leaders, students, teachers, school leaders, and nonprofit personnel who work in relevant fields. The task force will divide into four subcommittees that will address school report cards, access and opportunity measures, high school growth measures, and school climate pilots. The next task force meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 5, 2017. For updated information regarding ESSA, please visit

Proposed: New DCPS Teacher Contract

Yesterday, Mayor Muriel Bowser welcomed back DC Public Schools (DCPS) teachers for School Year 2017-2018 with a huge announcement. DCPS teachers are finally close to getting a new contract. At Bunker Hill Elementary School in Ward 5 with several education leaders at her side, Mayor Bowser unveiled a new teacher contract proposal that, if approved, will yield a 9% raise for DCPS teachers. Mayor Bowser was joined by City Administrator Rashad Young, Councilmember David Grosso, Deputy Mayor for Education Jennie Niles, DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson, Washington Teachers Union President Liz Davis, and Bunker Hill Elementary School Principal Kara Kuchemba to announce the news.

Under the proposed contract, educators will receive:

  • salary increases, including a 4 percent retroactive increase in Fiscal Year 2017, a 3 percent increase in Fiscal Year 2018, and a 2 percent increase in Fiscal Year 2019;
  • additional benefits; and
  • structured collaborative engagement between DCPS and the WTU on various issues, including extended-year schools.

Over the last school year, DC Public Schools employed more than 4,000 teachers who served approximately 50,000 students across 115 schools. Teachers have not received a base salary raise since 2012. DC Public School teachers enjoy the highest first-year teacher salary nationwide at $53,000 currently.

The nearly 4,500 members of the Washington Teachers Union are now tasked with voting on the proposal over the next two weeks. Eleven extended-year schools began school yesterday and the remaining schools will start the school year on Monday, August 21.

Mayor’s Press Release
Mayor Bowser’s Facebook Live Announcement – Recording
Councilmember Grosso applauds tentative new teacher contract
Tentative Contract

SBOE in the Community: August 2017

This week, members of the SBOE went into the community to help students get ready for back to school. On Friday, August 4th, Ward 3 representativDGZdFWyW0AILkede Ruth Wattenberg accompanied Councilmember Mary Cheh on her annual tour of Ward 3 schools. The purpose of Cheh’s visits is to assess school needs, such as broken air conditioners or new textbooks. This year’s tour had a more specific focus – addressing issues resulting from overcrowding in classrooms. WTOP quoted Ms. Cheh as saying there school building functioning has improved immensely. Both Ms. Wattenberg and Councilmember Cheh have also been advocating for the restoration of staff positions at Wilson High School and other Ward 3 schools. When DCPS releases its final budget, the public will know more about how DCPS plans to address this issue. Learn more about the school tour:

Later in the week, Markus Batchelor worked to stay up-to-date on issues impacting his constituents in Ward 8. On Tuesday, August 8th, Mr. Batchelor attended an ANC 8A meeting to hear DC Attorney General Karl Racine discuss affordable housing and the Alternatives to Court Experience Program (ACE), which Mr. Racine piloted to divert juveniles away from the school to prison pipeline. So far the program has an 80% success rate for preventing juvenile re-arrests. More information about the ACE program can be found here:

DG5ms-SXkAAmSylOn Thursday, August 10th, Ashley Carter, At-Large representative for the SBOE, helped out with back-to-school preparations by packing backpacks for United Way DC’s Stuff the Bus Project. This project helps provide students in need with school supplies and personal care items. For information on how to get involved:

Meet Our #ESSA Task Force Members!

Today, the DC State Board of Education proudly announced the members of its new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Task Force. Under the leadership of Ward 4 representative Dr. Lannette Woodruff, the ESSA Task Force will help advise the SBOE over the next two years on implementation of DC’s ESSA plan. The SBOE is committed to continuing to involve broad community input in the decision making related to the Every Student Succeeds Act.

To ensure a balance of perspectives, the State Board has chosen task force members who represent a broad constituency and will contribute meaningfully to education policy recommendations related to the 2017 DC ESSA Plan. Task Force members include parents, community leaders, education agency leaders, students, teachers, school leaders, and nonprofit personnel who work in relevant fields.

The SBOE is excited to work with such a tremendous group of diverse voices. Below are the selected members of the Task Force.

Name Affiliation
Lannette Woodruff • Ward 4 Representative, State Board of Education
• Chair, ESSA Task Force
Alexander Rose-Henig (n) • Dean of Students, BASIS DC
Allyson Criner Brown • Associate Director, Teaching for Change, Ward 7 Education Council
Amon Payne • Student, Columbia Heights Educational Campus
Anne Herr (n) • Director of School Quality, FOCUS
Daniel Rodriguez • Student, Benjamin Banneker High School
DCPS designee • Chancellor, DC Public Schools
Deborah Williams (n) • Head of School, Inspired Teaching PCS K-8
Donald Hense • Chairman, Friendship Public Charter Schools
Elizabeth V. Primas • Program Manager ESSA, National Newspaper Publishers Association
Erica Hwang (n) • Instructional Coach – Math, Brightwood Education Campus
Faith Hubbard (n) • Chief Student Advocate, State Board of Education
Jack Jacobson • Ward 2 Representative and Vice President, State Board of Education
Jacque Patterson (n) • DC Regional Director, Rocketship Public Schools
Jhonna Turner • Parent Engagement Program Coordinator, Washington Lawyers’ Committee
Joe Weedon • Ward 6 Representative, State Board of Education
Josh Boots • Executive Director, EmpowerK12
Julie Anne Green • Executive Director, New Futures
Karen Williams • Ward 7 Representative and President, State Board of Education
Laura Fuchs • Teacher, H.D. Woodson High School, WTU Board Member
Maya Martin • Executive Director, Parents Amplifying Voices in Education
PCSB designee • Chair, Public Charter School Board
Ramona Edelin (n) • Executive Director, DC Association of Chartered Public Schools
Richard Pohlman (n) • Executive Director, Thurgood Marshall Academy PCS
Samantha Brown • Special Education and Reading Teacher, Calvin Coolidge High School
Shana Young or designee • Chief of Staff, Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Sheila Strain-Clark • Parent, Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan
Suzanne Wells • Founder, Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization
Yolanda Corbett • Co-Chair, Parent Advocate Leaders Group

Total: 21 voting, 8 non-voting

The application period closed at noon on Monday, July 24, 2017. Each application was anonymized to ensure objectivity in selection. A panel appointed by Dr. Woodruff reviewed each application and strived to ensure membership was proportionately representative to the backgrounds of the students here in the District. In keeping with the SBOE’s commitment to transparency, all applications for the Task Force were open to public review. To view a list of task force applicants, click here.

Over the course of two years, four subcommittees will address school report cards, an access and opportunity measure, a high school growth measure, and school climate pilots. Task force meetings begin later this month and will continue on a monthly basis for the duration of the members’ two-year commitment. For updated information regarding ESSA, please visit

SBOE Kicks Off the First Meeting of the #DCGradReqs Task Force!

By: Amber Faith, Policy Fellow

SBOE will hold its first High School Graduation Task Force meeting on July 26th and invites the public to observe. The task force is led by State Board members  Laura Wilson Phelan (Ward 1) and Markus Batchelor (Ward 8). Together they lead a task force composed of parents, teachers, students, business leaders, school administrators, and education advocates from across the District!

All task force meetings are open to the public. However, individuals and representatives of organizations are not permitted to speak or participate during task force sessions. In an effort to get more of the public involved with the work of the task force, the SBOE has created a forum on Facebook for the public to join. On the task force Facebook page, the public can post questions and comments on the task force’s work and receive updates on task force meetings and progress. To join the page, click on the link below!

SBOE Graduation Requirements Task Force Facebook Page

We also invite your ongoing participation and input in the following ways:

  • Attend task force meetings and/or view them online
  • Participate in focus groups the task force will convene over the next six months
  • Submit written testimony or information for consideration by the task force by emailing or by filling out this online form
  • Share your thoughts with your elected State Board member or the task force co-chairs, Laura Wilson Phelan (Ward 1) and Markus Batchelor (Ward 8)

Education & DC’s Job Training Challenge

By: Tara Adam, Policy Fellow

On June 29, 2017, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute hosted a panel discussion entitled, “Big Solutions to DC’s Big Job Training Challenge.” The event was attended by roughly forty stakeholders of varying backgrounds including Ms. Ruth Wattenberg, SBOE Representative from Ward 3.


The panel, moderated by Mr. Andy Shallal of Busboy and Poets and Chair of the DC Workforce Investment Council, featured private-sector employers and labor union leaders including Mr. Raj Aggarwal (Think Local First), Mr. John Boardman (Unite HERE 25), Ms. Ilana Boivie (DC Fiscal Policy Institute), Mr. Thomas Penny (Donohoe Hospitality Services), and Ms. Stacy Smith (Hyatt Hotels Corporation).

The panel opened with Ms. Ilana Boivie, Senior Policy Analyst at DC Fiscal Policy Institute, providing an overview of the current economic state of DC in relation to the job market; overall, the District has seen robust growth. While unemployment is down, rates remains high in Wards 7 and 8 (10.9 and 13.3% respectively). Of those unemployed, roughly 60,000 lack a high school degree, and even those who have multiple certificates from training programs still have a difficulty securing a job.

As Mr. Penny remarked, “we all have a responsibility to do something.” The panelists discussed that it is up to private-sector employers, labor union leaders, and local stakeholders to create educational programs and pathways to help lower unemployment rates and target demographic groups which are most inflicted. In addition to developing skillsets, employers must build up wrap-around services for employees centered on childcare, housing and transportation.

While much of the conversation centered on educational job training programs, I believe that many of the key points are applicable when thinking about recent SBOE endeavors such as overhauling high school graduation requirements. By providing students with alternative graduation pathways, not only could the number of of DC residents without a high school degree decline, but also the probability of said students obtaining higher education degrees increase. This would allow these individuals to be better candidates for many of the jobs within the District that require advanced degrees, as noted by Ms. Boivie.

At one point during the discussion, Mr. Shallal mentioned the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Workforce Programs, the fifth habit being to treat education like a job. The SBOE has worked diligently to ensure that educational standards provide students with the best opportunities to achieve success. However, I believe that more can be done, especially by the ESSA Implementation Taskforce, in working with community organizations and educational institutions to ensure that students have access to vital resources so external stressors are minimized that they have the opportunity to treat their education like a job.

Overall, “Big Solutions to DC’s Big Job Training Challenge” was an interesting panel discussion. While much of the conversation was skewed toward education in a job-training program, many of the points highlighted were applicable to K-12 education. More information regarding future DC Fiscal Policy Institute events and the organization’s work can be found here.