Commit to Our Schools

I am writing because I view the next Del Ray Citizens Association meeting as our most important gathering of the year, and I would like to invite the city to join us in our efforts.

For the last six months, Del Ray's education committee has been working with every school and PTA that touches our neighborhood to create a State of the Schools program and information package for parents, parents-to-be and anybody else interested in the performance of our schools.

Del Ray children are assigned to three elementary schools based on where they live. Alexandria parents also have the option to apply for enrollment in other Alexandria schools.

With so many schools and so many options, educating parents is the first goal of our education committee and should also be a citywide goal. Information on school choices, testing, language and music programs and more will be available in the DRCA education committee report titled "Our Schools, 2002-2003."

It is our hope that this package of information can grow and form the foundation of our neighborhood's efforts to give parents as many tools and our schools as much energy as we can. We will gladly share our findings and ideas with any other neighborhood interested in educating parents about their own schools.

Del Ray's State of the Schools meeting started with a simple idea: If parents with children who attend or could attend public schools committed to working together, our collective energy, actions and support of each other would have an enormous impact on our schools.

The first step toward this goal is to make sure that we all have information about our schools -- nothing sugarcoated, just the facts. The second step is for neighbors to agree to give the schools a chance, to spend some time in schools and with teachers and to encourage other parents to do the same. The third step is to keep talking and identifying and solving problems. We support each other by supporting our schools.

If parents commit to each other and to our schools, we can have a greater impact than money, uniforms or standardized tests. This is a neighborhood effort.

This means looking for parents who need help with baby-sitting so they can have time to meet with teachers. This means sharing information by joining, talking, e-mailing and creating phone trees and other information-sharing approaches. This means helping the schools before, during and after your kids attend them. This is the most important work we can do as a community.

If Alexandrians do all of this, not only will our schools improve, but our community will also be stronger. We will know each other. We will be better able to help each other. People will be less likely to move away and look for other schools, and, most important, our kids will see what happens when people work together.

As you create your New Year's resolutions, I hope everybody in Alexandria can resolve to commit to our neighborhood schools. We are all in this together, and by staying together, we can accomplish fantastic things. Happy New Year.

Rob Krupicka

President, Del Ray

Citizens Association