Dear Parents,

Thoughts on the Future of Public Education in the District

Since becoming Chairman of the Council’s Committee on Education in January of 2013, I have seen the remarkable promise that exists in our public schools. After engaging in in-depth conversations with educators across our city and visiting 144 of our schools, it is clear to me that while real challenges remain, we are making great progress every day.  Our schools are improving because of the diligent efforts of our dedicated school leaders and talented teachers as well as the work of tens of thousands of parents and community members.

From securing nearly $80 million for at-risk students and ending social promotion to taking on the city’s special education crisis and creating new avenues for student engagement and parent empowerment, I am proud of the work of the Committee on Education in the 19 months since its reconstitution.  The Committee has supported the development of innovative language immersion programs and provided additional resources to support homeless students as many of our families suffer from a lack of affordable housing. During this year’s budget development process alone, the Committee restored nearly $100 million in delayed school modernizations including those at Watkins Elementary, Elliot-Hine Middle, Orr Elementary, Brown Education Campus, and Marie Reed Elementary.

However, great challenges still exist and we must be honest about these challenges in order to effectively overcome them.  In DCPS, fewer than 50% of African American males graduate on time and overall that figure stands at just over 60%. The District has the largest achievement gaps between African American and white students in the nation and despite some recent improvement in overall scores, these achievement gaps are growing, not shrinking. Addressing these challenges takes more than platitudes and slogans; it requires hard work, real investment, and collaboration between parents, educators, and government officials.  This is the approach I have taken as Chair of the Committee on Education and it is the approach that I believe will result in continued school improvement.

The District’s future depends on having high quality public schools that prepare students for success in life. All residents have a stake in the success of our public education system and every student deserves the opportunity for a high quality education—in every school, in every neighborhood, no exceptions. 

I look forward to continuing our work together to make this vision a reality.

Sincerely,

 

 

Councilmember David A. Catania

Chairman, Committee on Education


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