D.C. Deputy Mayor of Education (DME) and Advisory Committee
United States of America

D.C. Residents In Support of Neighborhood Schools is a petition that will be presented to the D.C. Deputy Mayor of Education, the DME's Advisory Committee, the mayoral candidates (Bowser and Catania), among others.

It is in support of neighborhood schools and opposes city-wide lotteries and mini-lotteries.

D.C. Residents In Support of Neighborhood Schools

The undersigned D.C. residents wish to express their views on the recent policy examples put forth by the D.C. Advisory Committee on Student Assignment established by the D.C. Deputy Mayor of Education’s (DME’s) Office and co-chaired by DME Abigail Smith:

1. We agree with the statement put forth in Policy Example B “that families need clarity about their public school rights and options while allowing flexibility to families who prefer to send their children to schools outside their geographic boundaries.” Without stability and predictability in the D.C. Public School System, people will go elsewhere.

2. We agree with Policy Example B’s proposal that every child should have the right to attend the school associated with their place of residence and assert that school boundaries should encompass thriving urban neighborhoods built around metro stops and commercial hubs. We believe—and we believe objective data in the District of Columbia shows—that neighborhood support of and investment in its local public school is a key ingredient to the success of that school.

3. We agree with Policy Example B’s proposal to have mandatory minimum set-asides for out-of-boundary students that have a low-performing school designation for their DCPS school of right. This option is a temporary fix, however, and should not lessen the urgency of continuing to improve all schools in all neighborhoods throughout the District of Columbia.

4. We agree with Policy Example B’s proposal that low-income families should have a right to enroll their children in the preschool program at their DCPS neighborhood school if offered. We agree that early childhood education for children who otherwise could not afford to attend private preschool is an important element to help ensure success in later school years.

5. We agree that every child in the District of Columbia should have the right to attend a safe, high-quality public school. We do not believe the proposals advocating a mere shuffling of where students attend school—whether by so-called “choice sets” or a city-wide lottery for high school—will achieve this goal.

6. We are adamantly opposed to any policy implementing so-called “choice sets” (i.e., mini-lotteries) and/or city-wide lotteries, which does not include a provision for students to attend their neighborhood public schools as a matter of right. We do not believe the Advisory Committee or the DME’s Office has adequately studied and considered the negative consequences of such a policy, which include, but are not limited to:

• Creating tremendous hardships for those families who chose to buy or rent homes and put down roots in the District of Columbia (and made other long-term family, lifestyle, and career choices) in neighborhoods based on predictable access to the public school in that neighborhood;

• Requiring many D.C. students and their families to have long commutes to school rather than allowing them to walk to their neighborhood public school, in some cases, just a block or two away (this will result in additional traffic congestion in a city that already has horrible traffic congestion, as well as create logistical nightmares for many single-parent and dual-working parent families). In the interest of creating a more sustainable city, the walkability of neighborhood schools should be maintained and considered if boundary lines are redrawn;

• Reversing the trend of neighborhood school improvement, which is based in large part on neighborhood investment and parent involvement in schools, and thus, depriving all students the opportunity to attend a high-quality public school; instead, we should aim to maintain and grow the sense of community culture that has developed around neighborhood schools.

7. We believe that any change to school assignment policy should be based on sound research and objective data. Before sweeping policy changes are made, the DME’s Office must ensure that it has considered the best information available and not acted in haste. The D.C. taxpayers, students, and their families deserve this, and if the processes and/or data that DME uses are flawed, its policy choices will be flawed, too.

Thank you for considering the views set forth in this petition. We look forward to working with the DME’s Office, DCPS, the D.C. Public Charter School Board, and other D.C. residents to achieve high-quality public schools in and for all neighborhoods in the District of Columbia.

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The D.C. Residents In Support of Neighborhood Schools petition to D.C. Deputy Mayor of Education (DME) and Advisory Committee was written by Deborah Raviv and is in the category Education at GoPetition.