We Want Answers from DC Leaders on School Closures

This week DC Action welcomes guest blogger Virginia Spatz. Ms. Spatz helps produce The Education Town Hall on We Act Radio and reports on education and community issues for East of the River and other outlets.

In her January 15 blog post, “One Street but Two Different Worlds,” Kate Kairys describes several important divides in the District, which can be seen on either side of 16th Street. Test scores in reading and math, number of one-parent homes, number of young people in the juvenile justice system all divide sharply along 16th Street, as do household income and access to a variety of opportunities – including basics like grocery stores.

Kairys asks, “How can we make sure children growing up in every part of the city have the opportunities they need to succeed?”

An essential question. And yet, when DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson proposed 20 school closures last fall, there was no mention of equalizing opportunity. In fact, the closures predominantly affect students on the more challenged side of 16th Street without offering any specific educational remedies for students in closing or “receiving” schools.

In the intervening months, many participants in The Education Town Hall on We Act Radio, including DC Action for Children Deputy Director Gwen Rubinstein, have asked:

•    How is the consolidation plan going to help our most struggling students?
•    Why is the District considering closures before necessary, long-overdue boundary planning?
•    Why closures without any plan to address deep racial isolation in DCPS schools?
•    Why closures without specific financial and educational outcomes projected?
•    Where is the vision for our children and our neighborhoods?

Answers have not been forthcoming, and the DC Council has not insisted on any. Henderson is scheduled to present her final proposal to the DC Council today (Thursday, January 17). The District needs its representatives to exercise oversight and ask the necessary questions.

The Education Town Hall on We Act Radio (motto: “Do Something!”) encourages everyone with an interest in DC's children and neighborhoods to demand that their representatives ask the above and other essential questions.

Listen live to the Town Hall, Thursdays at 11 am on 1480 AM (www.WeActRadio.com). Call in on 1/17 with questions for your Councilmembers, 202-889-9797, or email Thomas.Byrd@yahoo.com. Then follow up with the Mayor and the Council until you get answers.