Branch chief, U.S. Department of Transportation; native Washingtonian and product of D.C. public schools; holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in math from Howard University; ANC commissioner since 1978; has held office in D.C. PTA; key organizer of Parents United for D.C. Public Schools and active in D.C. Concerned Citizens for Special Education; vice chair, D.C. Advisory Committee on Education; recipient of volunteerism award at U.S. Department of Transportation; volunteer consultant on teen pregnancy prevention and drug abuse prevention.
1. The progress among elementary school students closely parallels institution of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) in 1975. It has been closely monitored from the beginning. The first wave of students who were in the first grade in 1975 are now entering the 10th grade. As CBC and monitoring of progress are emphasized at the secondary level, student achievement will show improvement. Many students now in secondary school did not have the benefit of CBC in their early years. Many arrived at secondary school with deficiencies they have not overcome. Improvement strategies that need to be available for all students include: concentrated use of CBC curricula; mandatory tutoring before, during and after school in reading, math, basic English and study skills; one-to-one counseling and establishment of realistic goals; mandatory training in test-taking skills; careful monitoring of progress.
2. Intelligence and the ability to learn are inborn and exist regardless of economic conditions. It is a function of the public schools to ensure that equal opportunities to succeed exist for all students. In the case of students from low-income families, the task is usually more challenging. The school must afford the following: adequate student services, including contact with families, support services, career counseling, in-school employment, health services, setting of realistic goals and follow-up; instruction in study skills; free tutoring in reading and mathematics; cultural experiences otherwise unavailable; co-curricula experiences, and monitoring on a personal basis. Given special help in these areas, with emphasis on opportunities for developing self-esteem, each student should be better able to compete with students of other backgrounds.
3. I consider the three most important factors in improving the D.C. public school system to be: (1) Effective use of school staff and availability and effective use of learning materials. Emphasis should be placed on career skill centers and on special education services needed by about 10 percent of the school-aged population. (2) Improved citywide attendance, with particular emphasis on strengthening communications with parents, particularly those of secondary school students. (3) Continued stabilization of the funding levels and other resources.