Tuesday night's State of the District speech by Mayor Gray Tuesday evening included this bombshell. Apparently he has formed an education cabinet composed of representatives from DCPS, the State Superintendent of Education, the Public Charter School Board, the Interim Deputy Mayor for Education, and his office. The goals of the cabinet are as follows:
"To empower families to understand and access all aspects of our education system;
To promote equity across our education sectors so that all children, regardless of which school they attend, have the resources they need to succeed;
To plan across our education sectors in a way that ensures access to quality educational seats in every neighborhood; and
To develop a transparent way to hold District government leaders and their education partners accountable for these outcomes."
Of course, goal number two is the most interesting one because a few paragraphs earlier in his address the Mayor provides a long list of dollars provided to the traditional schools that charters cannot access:
"Since I took office, we have opened a brand-new H.D. Woodson Senior High School along with modernized Anacostia and Wilson Senior High School and Turner and Moten Elementary Schools. We’re also constructing a new Dunbar Senior High School that will be ready next school year and have unveiled the breathtaking design for a brand-new Ballou Senior High School.
In addition, full modernizations of Cardozo Senior High School and Stuart-Hobson Middle School are well underway, and we completed Phase 1 modernizations for Amidon-Bowen Elementary, Brookland Education Campus at Bunker Hill, Bruce-Monroe at Parkview Elementary, Ketcham Elementary, LaSalle-Backus Education Campus, Leckie Elementary, Nalle Elementary, and Ross Elementary.
And we are initiating the transformation of Spingarn High School, which is, of course, located along our new H Street streetcar line. We’re turning it into a Career Technical Education campus with a special focus on transportation careers."
Let's pretend you are a member of the board of directors of a D.C. charter, sitting in the audience as the Mayor proudly reels off the millions he has allocated to renovate DCPS buildings. You try to remain silent as you recall you have just spent the last two years of your life fighting every day for an award of a shuttered traditional school. The lease is running out on the current inadequate location and without this award there will be nowhere to go. You did this as a volunteer struggling mightily to balance work and family with the needs of your students. You did it because it is the right thing to do since you know in your heart and in your head that kids are getting a tremendously better education compared to the one they would obtain at the neighborhood facility. It is the public education they and every child deserves as a civil right. But it is hard, extremely hard work. You are just about to close on a double-digit bank loan with six trailing zeros that modernizes the closed DCPS site that has been vandalized to the point that the copper piping inside has been stolen. The loan will be paid back with every dime of the $3,000 per student facility allotment that has not been increased in years. And if for some reason enrollment drops then you have no idea how to make up the lost revenue to pay the mortgage.
You sit there, griping your hands tightly so as to not starting screaming, listening to a man who ran for office on equity between the two school systems. Nothing has so far been done and it is difficult to believe that you are the last person to go through this hell.