What DC Students Need to Know to Ride for Free on WMATA

This is from Valerie Jablow of Education DC:


New Cards For Kids Ride Free (Shhh: It’s A Secret)

by Valerie Jablow

Well, not really a secret–but it feels like that, as I just learned about the implementation of the revised free ride program for DC’s students not through my kids’ schools, but through an email from a parent who had heard word of mouth.

So, shout this information from the DC Department of Transportation from the rooftops (boldface below is mine):

“Students who use Metrorail, Metrobus, and DC Circulator to get to school and school-related activities need to obtain a new KRF SmarTrip card at a summer distribution event or when the next school year starts. Beginning October 1, 2018, students will no longer be able to use their DC One Cards to access public transportation. The new card will be separate from students’ DC One Card and will provide students with free transportation to school and school-related activities. The new SmarTrip card will provide students with free and immediate access to travel on Metrobus, Metrorail, and DC Circulator. Students will simply be required to tap their new KRF SmarTrip cards on all bus and rail trips.”

Below is the list of summer card events to which you can bring your child and his or her ID and get the ride free card (with the added caution of being told to check back at the website often, because these dates/locations/times are subject to change):

July 21, 9 am – 2 pm: Wilson High School, 3950 Chesapeake St NW

July 22, 2 pm – 7 pm: Capitol Hill Montessori @ Logan, 215 G St NE

August 4, 9 am – 2 pm: Brightwood Education Campus, 1300 Nicholson Street NW

August 5, 1 pm – 6 pm: Dunbar High School, 101 N St NW

August 11, 9 am – 2 pm: Columbia Heights Ed. Campus, 3101 16th St NW

August 12, 1 pm – 6 pm: Ballou High School, 3401 4th St SE

August 18, 9 am – 4 pm: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt Vernon Place NW

August 19, 1 pm – 6 pm, District Department of Employment Services, 4058 Minnesota Ave NE

Registration for these summer events is on this website–note that students will also be able to get their new cards at their schools after the start of school as well, so if you and your child cannot make one of these summer events, you can obtain a new kids ride free pass at your child’s school during the new school year.

Questions? Call (202) 673-1740.

Valerie Jablow | July 16, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: https://wp.me/p6Dj0P-3uh

Published in: on July 16, 2018 at 7:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Math Teacher’s Job is Neither to Teach the Lesson, Nor to Help Individual Students Who are Struggling!

….but rather, to prepare a lesson from which ALL the students can learn!

… according to the way that Japanese math teachers are taught their craft, as described below. You will find that these methods, which include Lesson Study, are pretty much the exact opposite of American “Direct Instruction” or “Teaching Like A Champion.”  Given that nobody claims that Japanese students lag behind American ones in math or science, perhaps we in the US could profit from examining how other nations’ teachers do it. Note also that this description is of mathematics lessons in elementary school, not middle or high school.

Please read the following description and leave comments on what you think.

From Tom McDougal. Lesson Study Alliance, Chicago [and brought to my attention by Jerry Becker. – GFB]
It’s not the teacher’s job to teach the students!

By Tom McDougal

What?? You might be thinking. What else could the teacher’s job be but to teach?

The teacher’s job is to ensure that students learn, all of them, we hope, though we know we will usually fall short.

In Japan, most (elementary) math lessons are designed as  “teaching through problem solving” lessons (TtP). A teaching through problem solving lesson typically includes the following parts:

1.  introduce the problem
2.  explicitly pose the task for students
3.  students work on the task (5-10 minutes)
4.  share student ideas
5.  compare and discuss the ideas for the purpose of learning new mathematics
6.  summarize major points from the lesson
7.  student reflections

(There is sometimes overlap, and a back-and-forth between some of these, e.g. #4 & #5 may be combined.)

While students are working on the task (#3), the teacher walks around the room, monitoring their progress. Japanese educators have a term for this, kikkan shido, or  “providing] guidance between the desks.” They recognize that there are different ways to do kikkan shido, and it is often a subject of discussion in Lesson Study. During planning, for example, a team will usually discuss how – or whether  – the teacher should respond to a student who exhibits a particular misconception; during the post-lesson discussion, there may be argument about whether the kikkan shido was effective. And, it is considered a skill that new teachers need to develop.

Teachers who are inexperienced with TtP lessons often make an unfortunate error while doing kikkan shido: they see a student who is struggling, or who has done something wrong, and they stop and help that student. After several minutes the teacher moves on, encounters another student who is having trouble, helps that student, and so on. Then, suddenly, time is up, and the lesson ends.

There are at least four important drawbacks to this type of kikkan shido. First, as my description suggests, it uses up a lot of time. The teacher may never get around to all of the students, and other students who need help may never get it. Second, by addressing misconceptions privately rather than publicly, the teacher deprives other students of the opportunity to analyze those misconceptions and learn why they are incorrect. Any experienced teacher knows that certain misconceptions are very common, so when one student makes an error that stems from a common misconception, that offers an opportunity to “inoculate” other students against making the same error sometime later.

The third problem with tutoring students individually is that it conflicts with the whole premise of teaching through problem solving. You expect that some, or even all, of the students will have difficulty with the task; that’s why it’s called “problem solving” and not “practice.” Teaching through problem solving involves an expectation that students will have difficulty, but that the comparison and discussion phase will address their difficulties and that, by the end of the lesson, all (or almost all) of the students will have learned what they need to know.

And fourth, we want to help students learn to give viable arguments and to critique the reasoning of others, the third Standard for Mathematical Practice in the Common Core State Standards. To accomplish this, we need for students to share and discuss different, perhaps conflicting solutions. Students need to do the critiquing, not the teacher.

Of course, some errors are simply the result of sloppiness, or otherwise unrelated to the main learning goals of the lesson. So when the teacher sees an error while conducting kikkan shido, he or she has to decide: should this be addressed privately or publicly? What should I say to this student? Do I expect that, by the end of the lesson, this student will understand what he or she has done wrong? This is a tricky decision, and an important part of lesson planning is anticipating different student responses, correct and incorrect, and deciding ahead of time how to handle them.

Caring teachers naturally feel drawn to help struggling students: they feel like it is their duty to help those students right now. To counteract that impulse, I say, bluntly:

It is not the teacher’s job to teach the students. It’s the teacher’s job to create a lesson that teaches the students.


Peter Greene Explains Why It’s Important to Keep Protesting DeVos et al

From Curmudgucation:


Why Protest Betsy

Posted: 14 Jul 2018 04:12 PM PDT

This Monday, Betsy DeVos will be touring a public school in Erie, Pennsylvania (it’s an ironic choice, considering how badly Erie’s schools have suffered from “choice” and other nifty reform policies). This means that lots of pro-public education folks are mobilizing to make a strong, vocal, public protest in her immediate vicinity. And a lot of other people will be asking the question, “Why bother?’

It’s a valid question. And look– here are some of the things that are not going to happen as a result of this or any other protest:

DeVos is not going to say, “Dang! Look at all; these protestors! All right! You win! I’m going to change the policies I’ve previously supported because you guys just talked me into it.”

DeVos is not going to go home and think, “You know, one of the things I heard shouted at me, or one of the posters I saw, made me rethink some of the philosophical premises on which I’ve based my entire lifetime of anti-public ed activism. I think I shall change my ways.”

Neither DeVos nor any other member of this administration is going to think, “This is just awful. I’m so ashamed. I’m going to quit.”

DeVos is not going to stop and think, “You know– I really should just sit down and listen to these people. They might have a valid point.”

And no DeVos nor Trump supporter will feel one iota less supportive at the end of the day than at the beginning.

So why bother?

DeVos will dismiss the protestors as protectors of the status quo, opponents of Good Change, and generally awful people. She will connect education protests to one of the over-arching narratives of this administration, that only some people are the Real America, and Those Other People are not. That only Real Americans deserve to receive the blessings of this nation, and that the others should stay in their proper place, silent and compliant.

So why bother?

I can offer several reasons.

First, because the alternative is a small or non-existent protest, which allows the administration to push the story that they already try to make live as a lie– there just aren’t that many people who care, aren’t that many people who oppose Trump and DeVos and the rest. The opposition is weak and tiny and can safely be ignored or mocked. If nobody shows up to protest, then the feds get to share photos of empty streets and the rest of America shrugs and says, “Well, yeah– I guess there really isn’t anyone who’s all that upset with the current trends.”

Second, because cognitive dissonance is taxing. Many have noted the DeVosian smirk. It’s a smirk that says, “I don’t really have to listen to any of this. I’m above this. None of it matters. None of it is real.” It’s the look of someone who must filter out the evidence of her own eyes and ears in order to maintain her own view of what is happening. This is the work of dampening cognitive dissonance, and as someone who has played that game before, it is tiring. Filtering out all the protestors is tiring. Maintaining the fiction that you are on a mission from God and wise people recognize it and are grateful to you for stooping to better their sad lives– that’s tiring. I don’t believe we can get DeVos to change to another track, but I believe we can make it cost to her to hold to the one she’s on. When voices get really really loud, you can only block them out by stuffing so much cotton in your ears that it hurts.

Third, if there’s one thing I’ve learned writing this blog, it’s that pro-public ed folks, people who have invested their hearts and souls in one of the US’s greatest and most important institutions, feel isolated. When you are constantly told that up is down and white is black and that standardized tests are the best measure of children and teachers, you start to doubt yourself. When something is not right, it’s important for people to stand together and say, “This is not right.” It’s important for them to be able to look around and see that they are not alone, that they are surrounded by thousands of people who see what they see. And all the people who can’t be there, but watch from elsewhere get that same benefit. Teachers from all across the country can look at pictures of a protest and think, “Wow. It’s not just me.”

Fourth– collateral leverage. DeVos’s visit is being handled by Mike Kelly, a GOP Representative who is in a tight race and deserves to be defeated for so many reasons. If he’s hoping that a visit from a high-ranking DC secretary will help him out, he deserves to learn otherwise.

Henry David Thoreau in his essay “Civil Disobedience” encouraged us to be friction in the machine, like sand dropped into gears. We may not make the machine stop today. We may not end its movement right now. But we make harder to keep grinding away, and that wears it down and brings about its eventual collapse. I believe as an absolute rule in life that you are always either getting better or getting worse, making things better or helping them fall apart. There is no standing still.

My wife and I can’t be there Monday (we are visiting family in Seattle– no doubt DeVos deliberately waited till we were going to be out of town), but if you’re anywhere near Erie, you should go. Yes, it will be hard to park, and crowded and messy, and somebody may even stand up and say something stupid that you disagree with. But it’s important to be there, to be visible, to be heard. Years from now you don’t want to be explaining to someone, “Yeah, I knew it was wrong, but I stayed home and didn’t speak up.” Public education has been under attack for too long in this country, and people have been too quiet about it. The time to stand up and speak up is now. No, it’s not going to suddenly make everything better if you stand up and speak up, but the alternative is to step back and watch it get worse.

Speak out and rally begins at 1:00 on Monday, July 16, outside Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary School, 235 East 11th Street in Erie PA.

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Published in: on July 15, 2018 at 5:31 pm  Comments (2)  

Erich Martel’s Letter to WaPo Editor on Choosing the New DCPS Chancellor

FYI – The following letter is on the Washington Post website, July 8th.

I [Erich Martel] wrote it in response to and to protest stacking of the chancellor search committee with special interest foundations, etc.

The following hyperlink goes to three redacted Friendship Collegiate Charter student transcripts that the CEO submitted in testimony to the DC State Board of Education.  All three have missing mandatory courses and inflated course credit values.  Yet, with no audit of DC charter high schools, Mayor Bowser added a Friendship Charter official to chancellor advisory committee.

inflated credit values

Erich Martel

Retired DCPS high school teacher

=      =      =      =      =

A poor start to the search for a new D.C. schools chancellor


By Erich Martel  July 8, 2018 at 7:23 PM

Regarding the June 29 Metro article “Mayor launches search for next public schools chancellor”:

When selecting a new D.C. schools chancellor, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) should comply with the law. Ms. Bowser’s appointment of university, charter and foundation officials, plus the former deputy mayor for education, to the “Our Schools Leadership Committee” violates the 2007 Public Education Reform Amendment Act , which limits members of “a review panel . . . to aid the Mayor . . . in selecting a Chancellor” to “teachers, including representatives of the Washington Teachers Union, parents, and students.” Despite a decade of scandals and failed education policies, those largely responsible will pick the next chancellor: the former deputy mayor for education responsible for plagiarizing the school reform plan and ignoring the review process in selecting Michelle Rhee; a director of the DC Public Education Fund, which has channeled tens of millions of dollars in foundation grants to D.C. Public Schools to adopt untested and ineffective teacher evaluation, bonus and school closure initiatives without prior council review.

Although an independent audit of charter school graduation records is overdue, the mayor chose an official of Friendship Public Charter, despite public documentation that Friendship’s Collegiate Academy issued diplomas with inflated credit values and missing graduation requirements in U.S. history and World History 2; and the public resignation, reported in these pages, of a Friendship Tech Prep teacher when pressured to raise failing math grades.

Ms. Bowser should comply with the law.

Erich Martel, Washington

Published in: on July 14, 2018 at 8:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gadsden Flag Hypocrisy

Steven Singer analyzes the (fascist) nuttiness behind those who fly the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag.

Here is the link.

Published in: on July 12, 2018 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Holdin Bill Gates Accountable?

As you may have heard, once again, Bill Gates’ latest half-billion-dollar education innovation (implemented in DC and elsewhere) failed.

This initiative entailed the firings of thousands of teachers, many of them black, and creating a perpetual churn in DC Public Schools which has harmed teachers, parents, and administrators.

Gates never admits fault and is never held to account for his failures.

Veteran educator Larry Cuban asks how the public could hold Gates and other philanthropists accountable for the damage they have caused.

Published in: on July 12, 2018 at 11:56 am  Comments (1)  

In DC, both Charter and Regular Public Schools are Losing Very large numbers of High School Students

Hats off to Valerie Jablow for doing the hard detective work to count up the large attrition rates in the Washington DC charter school sector.

According to her numbers, only 64% of the the DC charter school students enrolled in their 9th grade classes were both present in their senior year and on track to graduate.

So, no,charter schools do not have any secret sauce.

Here is her latest column:

New post on educationdc

DC Graduation Rates & Propaganda

by Valerie Jablow

During the June 13 graduation accountability hearing before the education committee of the DC city council, council members laid into DCPS interim chancellor Amanda Alexander repeatedly about what DCPS had done, was doing, and would in the future do regarding graduation accountability. Alexander hewed close to information DCPS compiled, represented in part by this document.

No one thought to question the implied graduation rate represented in the chart below, produced by the charter board:

Let us unpack this for a moment.

First, some stats on DC public school enrollment (using data from OSSE audited enrollment reports and the SY16-17 final graduation report from OSSE):

Fall 2012 9th grade enrollment: 6252 total (2280 in charters; 3972 in DCPS)

(this enrollment includes both the entering 9th grade class as well as students held-back from previous years)

Fall 2016 12th grade enrollment: 3370 total (1147 in charters; 2223 in DCPS)

(this enrollment represents the retention of students and any net transfers through the high school years)

That works out to the following (extrapolated from data in OSSE documents here and here):

Adjusted cohort in spring 2017 as a percentage of 9th grade enrollment:

71% = DC’s public schools

63% = Charters

76% = DCPS

Graduation rate in 2017 as a percentage of 9th grade enrollment:

54% = DC’s public schools

46% = Charters

58% = DCPS

(NB: The DCPS values above don’t count its two STAY programs, since the 9th grade enrollment for those programs is reported as “adult”)

Contrast those 2017 graduation rates with what works out to a bonny 73% for 2018’s charter school graduation rate via that chart above (i.e., divide the “off track” total by the total of “prospective graduates” and subtract from 100 to get the graduation rate).

To be sure, 2018 is not 2017, and we do not yet have the final, OSSE-blessed 2018 graduation stats.

But the graduation rate that the charter board gave for last school year (2017; 73.4%) was about the same as its preliminary figure above for 2018. (See here and here for more information.)

Now, look again at the charter board numbers above for “number of prospective graduates” as of April 2018 (i.e., students likely to graduate).

But this time, let us back out the percentage that “number of prospective graduates” represents of all 2018 seniors (as accounted in that chart above) and also include the numbers of kids who once were at the schools in question in 9th grade (according to OSSE audited enrollment data); the numbers of students gone; and the percentage (in bold) those lost students represent of those “prospective” 2018 grads:

BASIS: 17 prospective 2018 grads (100%); 27 in 9th grade; -10 students (59%)

Capital City: 70 prospective 2018 grads (92%); 93 in 9th grade; -23 students (33%)

Chavez Cap Hill: 63 prospective 2018 grads (82%); 152 in 9th grade; -89 students (141%)

Chavez Parkside: 61 prospective 2018 grads (80%); 115 in 9th grade; -54 students (89%)

E.L. Haynes: 106 prospective 2018 grads (79%); 169 in 9th grade; -63 students (59%)

Friendship Collegiate: 177 prospective 2018 grads (73%); 249 in 9th grade; -72 students (41%)

Friendship Tech: 42 prospective 2018 grads (84%); 60 in 9th grade; -18 students (43%)

IDEA: 56 prospective 2018 grads (82%); 70 in 9th grade; -14 students (25%)

KIPP College Prep: 104 prospective 2018 grads (96%); 150 in 9th grade; -46 students (44%)

National Collegiate Prep: 41 prospective (82%); 79 in 9th grade; -38 students (93%)

Paul: 78 prospective 2018 grads (78%); 129 in 9th grade; -51 students (65%)

Richard Wright: 47 prospective 2018 grads (87%); 71 in 9th grade; -24 students (51%)

SEED: 26 prospective 2018 grads (70%); 36 in 9th grade; -10 students (38%)

Somerset: 24 prospective 2018 grads (73%); 47 in 9th grade; -23 students (96%)

Thurgood Marshall: 67 prospective 2018 grads (82%); 136 in 9th grade; -84 students (125%)

Washington Latin: 80 prospective 2018 grads (70%); 86 in 9th grade; -6 students (7.5%)

Washington Math, Science, Tech: 76 prospective 2018 grads (75%); 98 in 9th grade; -22 students (29%)

Yes, yes, this is in part a silly exercise: it doesn’t capture who actually graduates. (I also left off a school that had changed operation in the last 4 years (Kingsman) and an alternative high school (Maya Angelou).) Presumably, some of the students in the original chart who are deemed “off track” may, in fact, actually graduate–which would reduce the percentage loss of students over time.

That said, there are several untold, and very important, stories here:

1. The city as a whole is losing students at the high school level. They may be moving, they may be dropping out—but they are leaving both charters and DCPS at relatively high rates.

2. The concept of an adjusted cohort, while legally mandated by the U.S. Department of Education, captures numerically some of that shift, by noting students leaving or arriving. But it also obscures the whole story of student mobility that in DC has an outsize (and negative) influence on our schools and their students. Our students are not merely transferring between schools, sectors, and/or jurisdictions a lot—they are also disappearing from our high schools in large numbers before graduation. We also do not know what percentage of the adjusted cohort 4 years later represents the original 9th grade cohort at each high school. In our city of choice, this amounts to statistically turning our backs on high mobility (and, as the cross sector task force explored, its known, negative effects on at risk kids) and investing in the adjusted cohort as an accurate representation of a whole picture. For districts with relatively immobile populations, relying thusly on the adjusted cohort may work well. But here in DC, that apparent “whole” as measured via the adjusted cohort is in reality a complex and rapidly changing mosaic, comprised of different students not merely across school years, but within them as well.

3. Whether one looks at either the bald graduation rates of 9th graders or the adjusted cohort figures, it is clear that our charter high schools are losing students at higher rates than DCPS high schools. My jiggering of the rosy charter board data also underscores this loss (amazingly, sometimes more than 100% of those “prospective” 2018 graduates).

4. This last bit underscores what charter board executive director Scott Pearson characterized during the Kojo Nnamdi show earlier this week as successful accountability, with 27 charter schools closed over his tenure of 6 1/2 years. That works out to an average closure rate of four DC charter schools a year.

In fact, just since our most recent 2018 graduates entered high school, five publicly funded high schools in DC were closed, most of which were charters:

Spingarn (DCPS): 129 students affected

Options (charter): 115 students affected

Hospitality (charter): 53 students affected

Booker T. Washington (charter): 69 students affected

Perry Street Prep (charter): 153 students affected

These closures mean that more than 500 public high school students in DC were actually made mobile in some way not because they chose it, but because it was foisted on them.

When such vaunted “accountability” increases mobility in a city filled with at risk kids who are demonstrably harmed by such mobility, perhaps a better question to ask is who is benefitting from accountability via closures–and who is responsible for the resultant increase in mobility.

The upshot of all of this is not the propaganda that charter high schools are more honest or doing better than DCPS.

Rather, one upshot is that our charter high schools are losing students more than DCPS, which could be a function of any number of things: teacher turnover; selectivity of kids; higher rates of dropping out; etc.

Worse, that net loss of students fuels deceptively higher graduation rates when those rates are calculated by counting only each high school’s 12th grade class at one point late in that year and arriving at a graduation percentage.

Worst of all is that the most vulnerable students in DC, who we know need stability to do well in school, are literally being left behind at the high school level in both sectors. This problem is particularly acute in our charter high schools–which our city leaders have thus far refused to include with DCPS in an independent investigation.

In other words, by intensely focusing on graduation rates alone (especially in one sector versus another), our city leaders enable misinformation and propaganda, all the while the kids who need the most attention continue to not get it.

Funny how that doesn’t seem to make the

Published in: on July 6, 2018 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why does DCPS not have an actual technology plan for updating and maintaining school computers?

From Valerie Jablow and Grace Hu:

Respond to this post by replying above this line

New post on educationdc

[Ed. Note: Over several months, Grace Hu–parent at Ward 6’s Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in southwest DC, former Teach for America corps member, and advocate for educational equity–researched DCPS computer policy and surveyed staff and parents about IT reality in our schools. In this guest blog, Hu shares her conclusions–and a path forward.]

By Grace Hu

When I joined the PTA of my DCPS elementary school, I never thought I’d be helping my school figure out how to manage and raise money for computers and other information technology (IT). Given all the talk about “blended learning” and preparing our students for the workforce, I thought that DCPS had a plan for maintaining, funding, and updating school IT.

But I was wrong.

In fact, DCPS provides minimal support to schools for managing and funding computers and other IT. Schools are largely on their own, and a large technology gap exists between schools that can raise money for IT and those that can’t.

While technology is not a panacea, it can make a difference for educational outcomes. In 2014, a team from Stanford University and the Alliance for Excellent Education reviewed the results of 70 research studies and found that technology in the classroom, when implemented properly, can “produce significant gains in student achievement and boost engagement, particularly among students most at risk.”

Over several months, I examined existing DCPS IT policy and interviewed staff and parents at selected DCPS schools about IT at their schools. Here is what I found.

DCPS Policy

The FY 2019 DCPS School Budget Development Guide and the DCPS purchasing guide for computers, boards, and carts outline the district’s IT recommendations and policies.

Some highlights include:

Computer hardware: For student computers, DCPS recommends a minimum ratio of 1 device for every 3 students in its online testing cohort. These devices should be replaced every 4 years at a minimum. For teacher computers, devices should be replaced every 3-4 years to support instruction.

Schools with at least 25% of students identified as at-risk for academic failure are given funding for technology (“at-risk technology investment”). That often comes out to $20 or $40 per pupil, which does not go far when the cost of a student laptop purchased through the DCPS-approved vendor is approximately $500-$600 and the cost of a teacher laptop is more than $900.

IT support: A technician from the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) provides IT support and visits DCPS schools in my ward (Ward 6) about twice a week. DCPS gives schools the option of budgeting for IT positions–$55,006 for a technology coordinator and $104,633 for a technology instructional coach. For middle schools, the budget guide lists technology staff as an “additional staffing requirement.”


While DCPS’s budget and purchase guides set out reasonable minimal standards for IT in its schools, reality is often far removed from those guidelines.

Computer hardware: Individual schools are responsible for funding computer replacements. This has meant that every year, with tight budgets, many schools have been unable to carve out funds to maintain a supply of updated, functioning computers. This has led DCPS teachers across the city to solicit donations for classroom computers through DonorsChoose.org, citing “broken computers, dead batteries, or slow loading programs.” Some recent titles of teachers’ DonorsChoose proposals include

• Basic Technology Needed for Class

• We Need Technology for Our Specialized Learners

• Blended Learning Success

• Instructional Technology to Promote Reading Fluency

• Computer Literacy Increases Engagement

• Laptops for Learners

• Technology in 1st Grade!

• Teach, Tech, Boom!

• Keyboards for Typing Toads

• Owning Their Digital Learning

• Technology Increases Access

Not surprisingly, a 2017 report from the DC auditor found the following:

• “[E]xisting technology was frequently unavailable because it was outdated and of poor quality (seven of eight schools).”

• “Regarding technology that was unused or unusable due to condition or age, the problems reported at each school varied but included desktop and laptop computers that were non-operational, sometimes due to keyboards that were broken or missing pieces, as well as SMART boards that did not work.”

• “At one school, interviewees reported that their five-year-old computers were outdated and subject to frequent breakdowns. At another school, a teacher stated that technology support personnel had informed her that computers were too old to be fixed.”

IT support: OCTO technicians have no spare parts inventory or funding to help schools repair IT. If a laptop needs its keyboard, screen, or other part replaced, the school is on the hook for purchasing the needed parts and providing them to the OCTO technician. Moreover, OCTO technicians are not allowed to fix or put software on computers or tablets that are not DCPS-approved devices.

Not surprisingly, at many elementary schools, an existing staff member (e.g., librarian, teacher) often takes on the additional duty of managing IT. Trying to find $55K or $105K for an extra staff person to manage IT is a luxury many schools cannot afford–even though the need is ever-present.

Pile of broken laptops at Amidon-Bowen Elementary. Since the school lacks replacement parts and older laptops are not under warranty, these laptops likely will be thrown away.

In my interviews, I kept asking which schools do a good job of managing IT. The answer was always that a few affluent schools have PTAs that annually raise thousands of dollars to purchase technology or pay for IT support. Some schools with less wealthy PTAs have parents who are able to secure one-time grant funding for computers. But many schools lack active PTAs, much less PTAs that are able to provide any kind of IT support.

The implications of all this are far-reaching. Most of DC’s teacher and school evaluations depend on scores of high-stakes standardized tests that students take on computers. If our city’s standardized tests depend on children typing or having a basic understanding of navigating a screen using a touchpad or mouse, children without regular access to computers are at a disadvantage relative to other students. Taking a test online isn’t just a measure of what students know of the subject matter–it’s also a measure of how well they navigate on a computer and, literally, how many working computers are available to them on a daily basis.

This is Not Rocket Science

Last year, the DC auditor and her staff evaluated budgeting and staffing at eight DCPS elementary schools. While they had not planned to look at IT at each school, what they saw was disturbing enough to lead to the following recommendation:

DCPS should create and make public a multi-year technology needs plan to define and provide adequate technology to each school. The plan should include expected costs and planned funding sources.

This plan has not been released, and the FY 2019 DCPS budget does not appear to provide any additional funding to support a district-wide technology plan. Parents have testified about technology challenges before the DC council’s education committee and have spoken to individual councilmembers, but have yet to see any action to address this issue.

Through the FOIA process, parents got a copy of DCPS’s IT inventory at every school. For three out of four Ward 6 elementary schools, the DCPS inventory overstates the number of working computers. If this DCPS inventory is incorrect for many schools, it is possible DCPS is not even aware of the magnitude of its computer shortages.

There are many complex, intractable problems facing our education system. Figuring out an overarching strategy and plan for IT is not one of them. There are readily available guides that provide advice on technology planning and decision-making (see this for example). Even the basic guidelines that DCPS itself provides would be a good start if followed to the letter. What we lack is a plan–and money.

Absent DCPS solving these issues, we must pressure our city and school officials to figure out an IT plan for DCPS and then to fund it. To join the advocacy effort led by Ward 6 parents, please e-mail me at ghgracehu at gmail dot com.

Valerie Jablow | July 2, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: https://wp.me/p6Dj0P-3tN

Solving DCPS’s Computer Challenges Is Not Rocket Science

by Valerie Jablow


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Published in: on July 2, 2018 at 3:44 pm  Comments (1)  

Again with the bias towards charter schools in DC

This is from Valerie Jablow:


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New post on educationdc

Stacking The Deck: Chancellor Selection Edition

by Valerie Jablow

So, we now have a small group of people not representative of the population helping select someone unelected for an important public position to make decisions that could last for generations.

Oh, you thought I was talking about the new supreme court justice?

Well, I was talking about the search for our new DCPS chancellor.

Let’s look at the legally required selection panel, just announced by the mayor:

* = ties to DCPS

# = ties to charter and ed. reform interests


#Sylvia Mathews Burwell, American University president; not a DCPS teacher, parent or student, Burwell worked for the Gates and Wal-Mart foundations, both charter supporters

#Charlene Drew Jarvis, UDC board of trustees; a former KIPP DC board member, and not a DCPS parent, teacher, or student, Jarvis and her relatives have given Mayor Bowser $2000 in campaign donations since October

Committee Members

*Anita Berger, Banneker HS principal and not a DCPS parent, teacher, or student

*Rosa Carrillo, DCPS parent and language services program director of Multicultural Community Services

*Tumeka Coleman, DCPS Walker-Jones EC teacher

*Elizabeth Davis, president, Washington Teachers’ Union

#Antwanye Ford, chair of DC’s Workforce Investment Council; not a DCPS parent, student, or teacher, but a former board member of Washington Math, Science and Technology charter high school, he and his wife have given Mayor Bowser $3000 in campaign donations since the end of January

*#Nicky Goren, DCPS parent; works for the Meyer Foundation, which supports local charter schools

#Sean Gough, director of government relations at Friendship charter school; not a DCPS parent, teacher, or student

#Danielle Hamberger, director of education initiatives at the Clark Foundation, which supports local charter schools, and not a DCPS parent, teacher, or student

*Arnebya Herndon, DCPS parent

*Jeanie Lee, president of DC Public Education Fund; not a DCPS teacher, parent, or student

*Zion Matthews, DCPS student

*#Victor Reinoso, DCPS parent, former deputy mayor for education, former board member of EL Haynes charter school; and associate of NewSchools Venture Fund; Bellwether Education Partners, and Democrats for Education Reform, all charter and ed. reform advocacy organizations.

All told, of the 14 people on the selection panel, half have ties to charter and ed reform interests. And several were the source of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for the mayor.

[Confidential note to Mayor Bowser: Does this mean that if I and two of my DCPS BFFs donate $5000 to your current campaign, one of us will be named by you to serve on the charter board? I mean, this is the selection panel for the DCPS chancellor we’re talking about here! Why have any charter reps at all, as there have been zero purely DCPS reps. EVER on the charter board? Or is this all OK here because, um, well, because cross sector something something?]

Then, too, of those 14 people on the selection panel, there are a total of 1 teacher; 1 student; and 4 parents, half of whom have ties to ed. reform and charter interests.

The law regarding chancellor selection states (boldface mine) that “the Mayor shall establish a review panel of teachers, including representatives of the WTU, parentS, and studentS to aid the Mayor . . . in the selection of the Chancellor.” The law also says nothing about principals or officials from organizations unrelated to DCPS serving on the selection panel.

Notwithstanding the (remote) possibility that the singular student and teacher selected for this panel have multiple personalities, the math here simply doesn’t add up: there are more than a hundred THOUSAND parents and students in DCPS and several THOUSAND teachers.

And yet we have a rep from Friendship charter school on this panel and not even TWO DCPS teachers or students??

Gees, Mayor Bowser: it’s nice that you’re soliciting limited feedback on the next chancellor from us unwashed masses, but can’t you dial back the public dissing?

Amazingly, all of this is downright familiar in DC public education:

For instance, several years ago the process to change school boundaries showed that people wanted, overwhelmingly, a strong system of by right public schools in every neighborhood.

Since then, our city leaders have enacted policies and taken actions that ensure that remains a pipe dream:

–Thousands of new seats have been created in the charter sector, with little public notification. (One–Statesman–will start this fall without any public notification or input whatsoever beforehand. Yeah: check out these public comments.) Without commensurate growth in the population of school-age children, the result is a declining share of DCPS enrollment–all without any public agreement whatsoever.

–A closed DCPS school (Kenilworth) was offered to a charter school in violation of several DC laws, including public notification; RFO to other charter schools; and approval of the council. (I am still waiting for my FOIA request to DCPS about this to be answered, since no one on the council, at the deputy mayor for education’s office, or at DCPS ever answered my questions as to how this offer actually came about.)

–A test-heavy school rating system was approved, which tracks closely with what our charter board uses, without any consideration for what the public actually said it wanted. (And with a private ed. reform lobbying organization phonebanking to ensure it got what it–not the public–wanted.)

–Ours is a public education landscape in which wealthy donors set the conversation (watch the linked video starting at 1:21:25); determine the way in which schools are judged; and profit from it all, while the public is left far, far behind.

–Despite clear data showing problems in both sectors for graduation accountability and absences, there has been little movement in city leadership to ensure both sectors are equally analyzed.

In the same manner, in our new chancellor selection panel the public is disenfranchised and the law not followed, while personnel from private groups are heavily involved and stand to profit in a variety of ways.

Hmm: Familiar indeed.

Valerie Jablow | July 1, 2018 at 7:40 pm |

Published in: on July 1, 2018 at 6:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why do the bigwigs in the charter school sector get to select the new DCPS chancellor, who has no authority over the charters?

Good afternoon Councilmembers,

I am Iris J. Toyer, a resident of Ward 8 and a long time public school advocate.  The point of this email is to bring to your attention the composition of the selection panel for the next Chancellor for the D.C. Public Schools.  I am deeply concerned that the charter school community seems to have such a prominent role in this selection process.

As you are aware the D.C. Public School Chancellor has absolutely no authority over any charter school in this city.  The Chancellor cannot make any determinations on the siting of a school, the board composition of a school, the curriculum, staff or any other matter related to a charter.  Additionally, as I was recently reminded the Public Charter School Board itself pays little heed to the proximity of where a new charter is sited.  Often doing so directly across from a traditional public school and/or over the objections of residents in neighborhoods.

I raise this issue with you  because as my elected representatives, it is my expectation that you take a moment to understand that it is a conflict for charter proponents to have their hands in the DCPS Chancellor selection pot.  One has to wonder if Please consider the words of one of my very close friends, “Charter advocates have a stake in having a DCPS chancellor who will not compete with charters, but acquiesce in opening and siting charter schools to draw students from DCPS schools and in closing DCPS schools so the charters can have the buildings. ”

I look forward to your response.

Iris J. Toyer


Posted by: IRIS TOYER <iristoyer@verizon.net>

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Published in: on June 30, 2018 at 9:35 pm  Comments (1)  
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