Bowser introduces resolution calling for stronger D.C. middle schools

December 3, 2013

D.C. Council Member Muriel Bowser introduced a resolution Tuesday calling on the city to improve its struggling traditional middle schools, which have long driven families into charter schools, private schools and the suburbs.

Bowser’s non-binding “sense of the council” resolution says that all middle-school students across the city should have access to the kinds of opportunities — including arts, world languages and challenging academics — currently available at Alice Deal Middle School in Northwest.

The scramble for a good middle schools has left Deal overcrowded and strained, said Bowser, (D-Ward 4), who is running for mayor.

“This council and this government should commit to providing and replicating Alice Deal across the District of Columbia so that more families have access to this high quality education,” she said.

The resolution, which calls the dearth of excellent D.C. middle schools “unsustainable and unjust,” has four co-introducers: Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), Anita Bonds (D-At Large), David Grosso (I-At Large) and Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5). Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) signed on as co-sponsors.

The resolution comes just weeks after Chancellor Kaya Henderson publicly recognized that the city’s traditional middle and K-8 schools have largely failed to attract families.

Speaking at a council hearing on school boundaries, Henderson said that the city should perhaps consider funneling middle-grade students into more-successful charter schools. The suggestion that drew immediate criticism from council members and parents.

Henderson has since announced that improving middle schools is one of her three budget priorities for next year.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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