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.
By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow
On April 17th, the Gallup Organization hosted a series of panels and speakers to discuss the closure of the Latino higher achievement gap in the United States. Before the presentation began, each audience member was presented with handouts which highlighted the facts and figures regarding the Latino population, and education outcomes in the United States:
- 25% of the K-12 population is Latino, with the Latino population as a share of the overall population is supposed to continually increase year-over-year
- 22% of Latino students earn an associate degree or higher, compared to 39% of all adults
- 41% of Latinos graduate college in 150% of the time (4 years for a 2 year-program, 6 years for 4-year program), compared to 52% for whites
This framed the context of the discussions throughout the morning, which primarily focused on policy proposals by Congressmen to tackle the gaps and challenges being faced by Latino students.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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)
At June’s public meeting, State Board members voted on the final version of the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) report presented by SBOE Student Representative Alex Dorosin of Wilson High School. This report is the second annual report presented by the Student Advisory Committee (SAC). The SAC met four times over the course of the 2016-2017 school year and selected seven key topics that the SAC feels can be changed or improved in the DC education system.The proposals submitted by the SAC focused on graduation requirements, security, access to humanities and civic engagement courses, hall sweeps, food and nutrition, grading systems, and student socialization.
Student representatives have been pivotal to the success of the work of the SBOE. Our student representatives and SAC members offer a unique perspective on how policies actually impact the District’s students. The Student Advisory Committee serves as the voice of students in the State Board’s work. They are consulted on all issues of policy before the State Board. Student Representatives serve as co-chairs of the Student Advisory Committee. The Committee is composed of a minimum of 15 high school students, one from each of the 10 largest (by student population) high schools in the District and 5 additional members from other high schools. Read the report here.
By: Amber Faith, Policy Fellow
On Friday June 16th, 9th and 10th grade students attending Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy participated in the school’s annual Palooza Fair to present the results of their Community Action Projects (CAP). As a part of the CAP assignment, Chavez students worked in groups to research a policy issue, identify a problem in their community and create a policy to solve the problem. While working on their projects, students contacted and worked with experts on their topic, created and distributed surveys to community members, and completed 30 hours of community service relating to their topics.
The Palooza Fair was the culmination of the students’ work on these projects. At the fair, students gave presentations on current problems relating to human trafficking, immigration, animal rights and the U.S. military. The students succinctly and clearly presented data and information to show evidence of a problem, identified current policies meant to address the problem, and recommended changes to policy and strategies for their community to address these issues.
The work completed by Chavez 9th and 10th grade students is a requirement by Chavez schools to prepare students for the work the thesis work they will complete as Seniors. Seniors at Chavez are required to complete much more in depth research into policy solutions for current issues and present their research at Chavez’s Annual Symposium. The work completed by Chavez students falls in line with the school’s mission, part of which is to empower students to use public policy to make positive changes in their communities. To learn more about the program at Chavez Schools, visit Chavez Schools.