A Voice for Change: Dayja Burton, Student Representative

By Dayja Burton, SY2019–20 Student Representative

At first, I had no idea what the role of Student Representative of the D.C. State Board of Education (SBOE) would entail or that it even existed. But, after my teachers at McKinley Technology High School introduced me to the opportunity, I knew this would align with my personality and life goals.

My name is Dayja Burton and I am a senior at McKinley Technology High School. My school focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S.T.E.M.) and I participate in the information technology (I.T.) department with a concentration in networking/cybersecurity. This program provides me with a hands on education and opportunities that will help me in college and later in my career. Outside of the classroom, I am a member of the flag football team and the editor-in-chief of the YMCA Youth and Government program. My involvement with various organizations correlates to something that is important to me.

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Fulfilling My Civic Duty: Alex O’Sullivan, Student Representative

By Alex O’Sullivan, SY2019–20 Student Representative

I applied to be a SY2019–20 student representative on the D.C. State Board of Education (SBOE) because I know the importance—now more than ever—of fulfilling my civic duty by actively engaging with my community, and serving with elected officials and driven high school students to provide voices for youth throughout the city is a great way to do so.

I am a sophomore at BASIS DC PCS where my favorite classes are English Language, US Government, and Calculus. Outside of school, I play baseball, and am an avid fan of other sports such as basketball and football. I enjoy politics, and I am a board member and delegation leader of YMCA’s ‘Youth and Government’ program, a mock youth form of city government. I also write poetry and serve as the co-founder and President of my school’s poetry club. I love math and I tutor third-grade students at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in English and Math, and this school year I will be a member of the NSBE Jr. (National Society of Black Engineers), where I will participate in math-related competitions. Throughout the school year, I participate in youth speech competitions, and in 2019 I won the 2019 BIG (Blacks in Government) Youth Oratorical Chapter Competition on the injustices of the American judicial system.

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Dayja Burton and Alex O’Sullivan to Serve as Student Representatives

2019-20 Student Representatives

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Earlier this summer, the State Board of Education was thrilled to announce the selection of Dayja Burton, a rising senior at McKinley Technology High School, and Alex O’Sullivan, a rising sophomore at BASIS DC PCS, as Student Representatives for the 2019–20 school year. For the length of their term, these outstanding students will join our nine elected State Board members in policy discussions and community engagement efforts, bringing the voice of students directly to decision makers. With their direct experience in the classroom, student representatives provide a unique voice during policy discussions and offer a vital perspective on teacher retention, education standards, and our state accountability system.

Dayja Burton is a McKinley Technology Zelinger award winner, a recipient of the Perseverance Award, and a member of the Principal’s Honor Roll and National Honor Society. Alex O’Sullivan is a member of Youth and Government, co-founder and president of his school’s poetry club, and a volunteer tutor at his local elementary school. As Student Representatives, Burton and O’Sullivan will also co-chair the 2019–20 Student Advisory Committee (SAC), a volunteer group of students from District high schools in both D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) and the public charter sector.

The State Board began an open application process for both the Student Representative positions and the SAC in March, receiving 40 applicants from both traditional public and public charter school students. The SBOE sought students who were passionate about serving their community, as these individuals bring a vital voice to the education policy-making process in the District.

The SAC serves as the voice of students in the State Board’s work. They are consulted on issues of policy before the Board. The SAC meets at least once per month. Each year, the Committee sends the SBOE a report on a matter of importance to District students, providing recommended next steps. If rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors are interested in joining the Student Advisory Committee, contact us at sboe@dc.gov. For more information, please visit sboe.dc.gov/studentvoices.

Student Leaders Present Recommendations on Teacher Turnover and Equity Across Schools

SAC Panel at June 2019 Public Meeting

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Last week, our outgoing Student Representatives Tatiana Robinson (Ballou High School) and Marjoury Alicea (Capital City Public Charter School) joined Student Advisory Committee (SAC) members Hannah Dunn & Aaliyah Dick (both of Wilson High School) to present the end-of-year SAC report to State Board members. During the June public meeting, these student leaders shared highlights from the Committee’s recommendations, which focused on solutions for teacher retention and equity across District schools.

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Thanks for the Ride!

Staff Selfie Tour April 2019

By: Sara Gopalkrishna, Policy Fellow

Thanks for the ride, SBOE! As a DCPS parent and a doctoral student of education policy, these last five months as a Policy Fellow at the DC State Board of Education have been illuminating and fun. I have come to understand the structure of educational governance in the District and learned a lot about the people who operate within it. (One day, I’ll diagram it for you!) I was given to the time and task of listening to and watching City Council testimony on education issues and offices, and, of course, SBOE meetings. I had the opportunity to participate in First Friday tours of DC charter schools and peek into some high schools on an SBOE selfie tour to recruit high school students to serve as Student Representatives and members of the State Board Student Advisory Committee. The staff provided opportunities for me to explore DC student data, write memos, contribute blog posts, and ask a lot of questions!

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#SBOESelfieTour to Promote Student Voice

By Lanita Logan, Staff Assistant

Last Friday, two SBOE staff members and I went on a #SBOESelfieTour to promote and highlight the work of the State Board’s two student representatives and the Student Advisory Committee (SAC). Student voice is extremely important to SBOE and has been integral to our work since the State Board’s inception. Our student representatives participate in all SBOE activities and the SAC serves as the voice of District students in the State Board’s work.

During this #SBOESelfieTour, we visited five different high schools to pass out flyers and information on the application process for school year 2019–20 student representatives and SAC members (application here). All applicants must be a District resident and a rising sophomore, junior, or senior in either a traditional public (DCPS) or public charter high school.

The first high school on the list was Ward 8’s National Collegiate Preparatory  and the experience there was very interesting. Then we traveled to Ward 7 and The SEED School—and, I must say, that was a very good experience, as the staff there were very open to passing out our information to their students. We also visited Friendship Collegiate Academy and Cesar Chavez Parkside High School (where we took a selfie picture under a beautiful cherry blossom tree). Our last stop was Ward 5’s Washington Leadership Academy. The energy and excitement at each school was great to see! We look forward to reviewing all the student’s applications.

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#Ward5EduTownHall Recap

By: Dyvor Gibson, Administrative Support Specialist

On July 24, 2018, another town hall meeting was held in Ward 5 at the Lamont-Riggs Library in the District of Columbia. This was one of a series of meetings initiated on behalf of Councilmember (At Large) David Grosso where community members, parents, students, school administrators, and other stakeholders continued numerous conversations to weigh views and sentiments on specific subject matters presently impacting schools. The audience consisted roughly of 35 attendees in total. There were six student-led panelists during the meeting; one of which was our most recent State Board of Education (SBOE) Student Representative Tallya Rhodes – valedictorian and graduate of Woodson Senior High School.

The discussion centered on what a student’s “dream school” would look like, along with identifying roadblocks students encounter within the educational system that continue to spark debate. The discussion also included what forward-thinking solutions would resemble.

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SBOE Student Rep Co-leads Ward 8 Education Town Hall

By: Matt Repka, Policy Analyst

Earlier this week, Councilmember David Grosso kicked off his series of education town halls in Ward 8 at the Anacostia public library. This was the first of eight such town halls, one in each ward of the city, over the summer. The town hall was led by five youth leaders, including our very own outgoing Student Representative Tallya Rhodes!

Approximately 30 community members, including students, teachers, parents, principals, and other stakeholders joined the town hall to share thoughts and ideas about schools in the District. Members of the media were present as the five students on the panel facilitated a robust discussion.

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SBOE Welcomes New Student Representatives

By: Paul Negron, Communications & Public Engagement

Late last month, the State Board of Education proudly held swearing-in ceremonies for its two new student representatives, Tallya Rhodes (HD Woodson HS, Ward 7) and Tatiana Robinson (Ballou HS, Ward 8). State Board President Karen Williams was joined by Ashley Carter (At-Large) and Markus Batchelor (Ward 8) at both high schools as our newest student representatives were sworn in with proud teachers, classmates, and family members cheering them on!

Tallya Rhodes Swearing-In

Tallya Rhodes’ Swearing-In Ceremony at HD Woodson High School

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New Student Representatives for SY2017-2018

Thank you to all who helped us recruit an amazing crop of candidates to serve as the State Board’s new student representatives. Tallya Rhodes from H.D. Woodson High School (Ward 7) and Tatiana Robinson from Ballou High School (Ward 8) were selected as our State Board Student Representatives for 2017-2018.

Student Representatives serve for one school year from September to June. They participate in all SBOE activities and are treated as full members of the State Board. In addition, Student Representatives co-chair the Student Advisory Committee and are responsible for setting the agenda for the Committee. Applicants must be a District of Columbia resident and a sophomore, junior or senior in either a traditional public or public charter high school.

At June’s public meeting, State Board members approved the final version of this year’s 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 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. Read the report here.

Stay tuned for the announcement of our full Student Advisory Committee (SAC) later this summer. The Committee will be composed of high school students from both DC public schools and public charter schools. To learn more about our Student Representatives, click here.