Seeing Out-of-School-Time Through Equity Lenses

By: Tara Adam, Policy Fellow

On Thursday, May 25, Mila Yochum of the DCPS Out-of-School-Time System Set-Up Team, led a lively discussion centering on the question, how can resources be distributed to support equity within the District? The goal of the afternoon was to help the OST Team determine an equity lens through which RFP applicants should be scored for 2017-2018 award year.Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 11.23.31 AM

Prior to delving into the group exercise, Ms. Yochum emphasized that equality does not equate to equity, and that it is OST’s responsibility to ensure there is an equitable distribution of the available RFP 2017-2018 $2 million dollar grant, not an equitable access to it. Although there is a standardized rubric for the grant review process, bonus points awarded will  be awarded to  applicants who further the OST’s equity movement.

The group of stakeholders assimilated eight themes in which they believed the equity lens should be centered on: mental and emotional health, enrichment opportunities, transportation, poverty, under-resourced schools, special populations, geography, and organizational capacity. The group then delved into identifying key concerns and concepts associated with each theme. For example, the stakeholders’ agreed that youth programs targeted at professional development and opportunities for personal growth  should be a core concept related to enrichment.  

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During the session’s debrief numerous participants commented on their desire for collaboration and the creation of an Out-of-School-Time community where ideas and resources can be shared. Moreover, numerous stakeholders voiced a concern over the definition of who an “at-risk” student really is.

This discussion was part of a series of six conversations held by the DCPS OST Set-up Team. Following the conclusion of the six sessions a vote will be held to determine the three most popular themes in which an equity lens will be developed for the RFP 2017-2018 grant. This process will only be applicable to this  grant year.

Councilmember Grosso Hosts Education Committee Open House

Over 100 community leaders and residents attended Councilmember Grosso’s Education Committee Open House yesterday to kick off the new year! As chairperson of the Education Committee, Councilmember Grosso welcomed the public to his offices at the Wilson Building to discuss education priorities and challenges for the upcoming Council Period 22.

After constituents and agency staffers mixed and mingled during a reception, Councilmember Grosso delivered a short speech outlining his priorities for the year. As his team prioritizes education policy issues for the District, he will be focused on striking the right balance of services and opportunities for all students. The committee will continue to emphasize work on mental health and wraparound services and promote human and civil rights for all in the face of a changing presidential administration.

Councilmember Grosso made an impassioned plea for the expansion of arts and humanities education in our public schools, and issue he firmly will champion this year. The councilmember went on to praise the important work done by the DC Public Charter School Board in holding charter schools accountable, stressing the need to engage with both DCPS and charter school students and schools on a consistent basis.

Earlier this month, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education released a report on the state of suspensions and expulsions in the District. Councilmember Grosso encouraged the audience to attend an upcoming roundtable on February 2nd to review the findings of this report and provide recommendations on how DCPS and public charter schools can continue to reduce instances of school discipline in both sectors.

The audience was given a glimpse of what’s to come on Councilmember Grosso’s agenda, including efforts to create a charter school facility mandate and a reintroduction of a language access bill deemed essential. Already a busy first week for the Council, Councilmember Grosso proudly announced his introduction of the Public School Health Services Amendment Act of 2017. Staffing of nurses in public schools has been a hot topic over the last year, and this bill aims to increase the minimum number of hours that a nurse works at a public school to 40 hours. Councilmember Grosso graciously welcomed and recognized President Jack Jacobson, Vice President Karen Williams and Members Ruth Wattenberg and Markus Batchelor from our State Board during the event and participated in a lively and productive Q&A with the audience.

CrossTalk DC: DCPS Student Inspiration Exhibition and Dialogue

In collaboration with the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Anacostia Community Museum, DCPS Office of Family and Public Engagement invited students, parents, staff and community to a facilitated discussion on Thursday evening exploring, “What does it mean to be the other?”


DCPS student photography and selected passages from the play District Merchants served as a kickstarter for lively discussion and conversation at the picturesque Anacostia Community Museum. District Merchants by Aaron Posner, an adaptation of Merchants of Venice, set in post-Civil War DC juxtaposes the experience of two DC merchants: a newly emancipated black man and an immigrant Jew. The play explores themes regarding gender, race, religion, and power.

In her final event serving as Chief, Family and Public Engagement, Ms. Josephine Bias Robinson, kicked things off with opening remarks. Ms. Robinson welcomed 4 students from local Wilson High School, School Without Walls, and Ballou High School to the front of the room. Each student talked about their photo and what inspired them to take these inspirational shots. dcps-crosstalk-itinerary

Ms. Shanita Burney, Deputy Chief, Family and Public Engagement went on to lead the facilitated discussion and interactive activities with the crowd surrounding culture, race and identity. Participants worked in groups and talked about reflections on excerpts from the play as well as reactions to the students’ photography.

CrossTalk is a community engagement initiative that connects members of the public, encouraging them to think about race and religion thoughtfully and deeply through the lens of literature and history. To learn more about the CrossTalk DC initiative, click here.