Paul’s Top 5 Moments at SBOE

SBOE Staff 2019

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

So many firsts. My first government job. My first time working with politicians. My first time running multiple social media accounts and a blog. In October 2016, I stepped into a position that did not exist before. Excited, yet intimidated, I relished the opportunity to develop the role into what it is today. Much thanks goes to our Executive Director John-Paul Hayworth, our tremendous staff, and our passionate Board members for trusting me with this role and allowing me to make it my own. As I finish up my final week serving as public affairs specialist for the DC State Board of Education, here are a few moments I won’t soon forget.

1. #SBOESelfieTours

SBOE Selfie Tour 2017

As a staff member, I loved getting out into the community and visiting District public schools as often as possible. This helped keep my ears to the ground and helped to connect the education policies we were working on with the realities of children attending school. Whether it was Back-to-School events, school tours, education events, or student representative swearing-ins, I always felt honored I was able to capture these moments as they happened. In spring 2017, we embarked on the first #SBOESelfieTour, a public engagement campaign where staff and Board members visited a variety of schools over a one or two-day period to help promote specific policy issues or campaigns. During these quarterly tours, we dropped off flyers and materials about our open applications for student representative and Student Advisory Committee, applications to join our High School Graduation Requirements and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) task forces, and back-to-school information on the work of the State Board, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Office of the Student Advocate. The ultimate bonding experience for staff, these outings proved to be a great way for us to connect with the schools we served.

2. Going Live

#DCGradReqs Task Force Meeting 2017

Running a livestream for every public meeting, working session, and task force over the last three years was thrilling, challenging, and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Every conversation, debate, vote, public testimony, and ceremonial resolution was captured live via our Periscope or FacebookLive feed. I wouldn’t call myself an expert videographer or photographer, but I managed to hone my craft as time went on. The toughest parts were when the WiFi or phone connection would drop or when I needed to inconspicuously capture substantive conversations at our task force meetings. Our dedicated group of viewers always keep me on my toes in the chat box, never really leaving me a moment to relax. But, I loved engaging with them in real time to help make their viewing experience valuable.

3. ESSA Community Engagement

ESSA Community Meeting 2017

In February 2017, the State Board partnered with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to co-host community meetings in all eight wards of the District. Members engaged with the public on the draft Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan to find out what community members wanted DC to include in its final accountability plan. With a smaller staff back then, John-Paul and I traveled around to schools in the District with translation equipment, projectors, printed materials, and a projector screen to ensure these events went off smoothly. It was a sprint that month, with three meetings per week for four weeks straight in the evenings. But, it was worth it! It was a great way for me to learn the unique challenges and concerns of residents in every part of this city early on in my time at SBOE.

4. Spotlight on Teacher Retention

Teacher Retention Forum 2018

In May 2018, SBOE contracted with local education researcher and data analyst Mary Levy to produce a report on teacher and principal retention in the District of Columbia. In October last year, we released the commissioned report along with three recommendations. The report found that teacher turnover at the DCPS system level is roughly 19 percent, and average annual teacher turnover at the school level in both traditional public schools and charter schools has consistently been about 25 percent. The report also found that turnover in DCPS neighborhood schools is highest in Wards 5 and 8, but that charter school turnover rates are largely the same regardless of location. The impact of this report has been wide-ranging, and the State Board has continued to analyze this issue in 2019. Through community forums, expert panels, and engagement with teachers and administrators throughout the District, we have deepened our knowledge on this issue. The SBOE is poised to continue the conversation in the new school year and I am grateful to have been a part of these efforts to shine a light on such an important issue.

5. Launching the SBOE Blog

When I started my role, I wanted to create a way for us to connect more with the community. I felt that SBOE needed a way for Board members and staff to share their views on specific education policy issues. I also wanted a space for us to publish information, feedback, and takeaways from key events. Thus, this blog was born in December 2016. With the breadth of communications and media relations functions I performed over the years, it was a challenge at times to carve out time each month to get content posted. But, with the help of our dedicated staff, we’ve managed to post a few blogs each month. It’s been a great outlet for us to get our voice across in a unique way.

  • SBOE SelfieTour 2017
  • EdFest 2017
  • SBOE SelfieTour 2018
  • DCPS Pride 2019
  • Langley Elementary Tour 2019
  • SBOE Staff August 2019
  • Staff Nats Game 2017
  • SBOE Excel Academy Visit 2018
  • SBOE Staff May 2019

Together, we’ve worked hard to communicate the message of the State Board through meetings, task force sessions, selfie tours, press releases, community newsletters, media responses, and countless community events. With a focus on transparency, we streamed every public meeting, working session, and task force meeting live on Periscope and FacebookLive. With the help of staff and our dedicated fellows, we’ve been able to expand our social media presence – adding an Instagram and LinkedIn account and maximizing our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube pages.

And now, I am fully ready to take on a new professional challenge! I am staying in DC, so I’ll be close. From time to time, I may pull up a SBOE meeting on Periscope to catch the latest on the work of the State Board. It will be a nice change to be on the other side, watching as an interested and supportive District resident. I can’t wait to see what’s next for SBOE.

A Privilege to Learn and Serve

By: Maria Salciccioli, Senior Policy Analyst

 

Friday, July 13th was my last day at SBOE, and I’ve been reflecting on a wonderful year and a half. Although I’d lived in DC for six years before I started at SBOE, having worked as a teacher, researcher, and political appointee at the US Department of Education, I didn’t know much about education in the city I lived in, including exactly how SBOE, OSSE, the DME, DCPS, and PCSB worked together to educate the roughly 100,000 students who attend public schools in DC. Since joining the agency, however, I’ve had the privilege to both learn and serve.

As Senior Policy Analyst at SBOE, I worked as project manager for our two task forces – High School Graduation Requirements and ESSA. The graduation task force convened stakeholders from across the city, held in-depth discussions on what we want District graduates to know and be able to do, and created recommendations that are designed to improve student preparation and ensure that a District diploma is meaningful and is conferred to graduates who are well-prepared for college and career. The process was eye-opening – bringing together stakeholders from across the city means that it’s incredibly difficult to come to consensus on the best way to support children, but it is critical to have a variety of voices at the table, and I think the recommendations were stronger because of the diverse input that went into them. The ESSA task force is partnering with OSSE to ensure the ESSA plan is implemented with families in mind, and the outreach OSSE and task force members have engaged in is unprecedented across the country. Even though it has been a groundbreaking effort, there is still hard work to do with family engagement, and I am excited to see where the Board takes its practices over the years to come.

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My Final Thoughts – Abby Ragan

By: Abby Ragan, Policy Fellow

My name is Abby Ragan and I am finishing up a term as a Policy Fellow here at the State Board. I graduated magna cum laude from American University last December with a bachelor’s in International Relations. Although my background has been more in the nonprofit space, I later realized I wanted to pursue a career in education policy and soon obtained a job offer joining Teach For America (TFA) here in the District of Columbia. Because of the gap between a December graduation and a summer start to my commitment with TFA and, thus, the opportunity to really explore anything I wanted, I searched long and hard for experiences where I would feel like I was making a difference and learning new things about the world around me.

In thinking about the months since, I know I will never be able to put into words the growth I have experienced here. As it comes to a close, I look forward to taking this new knowledge forward into the classroom as a English teacher this coming fall. Unlike many other internships and fellow positions, I didn’t spend my time making coffee or filing papers. At the State Board, I have had the opportunity to really engage with policy during a huge time of change for the District by writing memos and resolutions and watching DC Council hearings as well as push my research, data management, and writing skills to the next level. I have learned so much about the policy process and the educational landscape of the District while making a real impact on SBOE work, and I have never felt more a part of the DC community.

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State Board in the Community: November 2017

By: Alexandria Smith, Communication Fellow

Here are the latest community outings from the members of the DC State Board of Education!

Laura Wilson Phelan of Ward 1 speaks on the work of the SBOE High School Graduation Requirements task force at Banneker High School alongside Ward 4 representative, Lannette Woodruff.

Ward 6 Representative Joe Weedon attends the DCPS Public Budget Hearing led by Chancellor Antwan Wilson at Stuart Hobson Middle School. Members of the public were able to come and testify about their budget re-configuration needs.

On November 2nd, Markus Batchelor of Ward 8 visits Moten Elementary with Councilmember Anita Bonds.