Director of Anacostia Extension Program and Response to Educational Needs Project, Anacostia Community Schools Division; executive vice president, Black Center for Strategy and Community Development Inc.; consultant to Parent/Community Involvement and EEO, Council of Great City Schools; member of Student Affairs Task Force, University of the District of Columbia, and of National Task Force for Pupil Personnel, U.S. Office of Education; Ward 8 representative to Democratic State Committee.
1. For years, various members of the D.C. Board of Education -- including myself -- have urged the central administration of D.C. public schools to seriously address the educational deficiencies of the secondary schools. At my request, a Secondary Schools Improvement Committee was recently established; it is funded this school year at $1 million. This committee is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. Improving the school system's secondary schools must become a top priority of the D.C. Board of Education; it must move to develop a specific mission for the secondary schools, after which the school system must identify and hire qualified, experienced and competent educators. Such educators must have demonstrated an ability to develop, implement and administer a successful curriculum at the secondary level in at least one public school system in a major urban area.
2: No valid research has ever been performed to indicate that students from low-income families cannot meet, or exceed, the educational achievement of students from families in the middle- and high-income brackets. Rather, there is an abundance of research to conclude that the denial of adequate financial resources for the education of any student, low-income or not, has the affect of diminishing, if not eliminating, a student's opportunity to receive a quality public education. The answer to addressing existing inequities in the D.C. public schools is twofold: First, the D.C. government must make public education its number one priority, and hence provide the school system with far greater financial resources than is presently the case; and second, D.C. Public Schools must begin distributing its resources on the basis of educational needs where they are greatest, which particularly applies to the public schools in Ward 8.
3: (1) Creative and committed leadership must exist, starting with the members of the D.C. Board of Education and the superintendent of schools and extending throughout the D.C. Public Schools system. It is crucial, however, that leadership be strongly and effectively exercised at the local school level in the form of each school's principal. (2) The school system's instructional program, as it exists on paper, must be carried out by skilled and competent teachers; and the instructional program must be effective from the kindergarten through 12th grade level, not merely at the elementary level. (3) More financial resources must be provided to the school system, and all school system employes must rededicate themselves to the goal of helping provide all students with a quality education. This means the school system must be viewed internally as a system of educational delivery, not primarily as an employment system.