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Day of Action and Collaboration with New DCPS DCPS Chancellor Will Both Help Strengthen Our Schools
Greetings…and Happy New Year!
The year has gotten off to a fast start for the WTU. We held our first Representative Assembly Meeting for 2017 on January 10th. Two focal points of that meeting was the “National Day of Action” taking place around the country on January 19th and the union’s LEAP/IMPACT/Essential Practices Task Force.
The WTU/Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools “National Day of Action” will bring together hundreds of teachers, parents, students, elected leaders and community activists to demonstrate against President-elect Trump’s agenda to dismantle public education.
Activities will take place at several D.C. schools, most notably Anne Beers Elementary School in Ward 7 where there will be a distinguished lineup of speakers, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.); American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten; Mayor Muriel Bowser, Faith Strategies Rev. Graylan Hagler; Beers PTA President Tim Smith; Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools Executive Director Kiron Blair; Ward 7 City Councilmember Vincent Gray, and myself.
The message that day will be clear: "Say NO to privatizing DC Public Schools and give our schools “Sanctuary Schools” status, ensuring they remain safe and welcoming places for ALL students, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or immigration status.
Our LEAP/IMPACT/Essential Practices Task Force is charged with collecting data from our members to inform recommendations to the new DCPS chancellor Antwan Wilson and school district for rethinking teacher evaluation, induction, support and retention.
Our members have expressed deep concerns about the inconsistent manner in which LEAP has been introduced in schools across the city, as well as the impact the new policy is having on individual planning time and staffing.
In February, former Oakland Superintendent Antwan Wilson is scheduled to become the new chancellor of D.C. Public Schools. In recent weeks, I have met with Chancellor Wilson about priority issues and problems on which the WTU and DCPS can collaborate to resolve.
Our conversations have been productive and forward-looking, and I have assured the new Chancellor that the WTU and teachers across the District of Columbia are committed to working with him to improve our city’s schools and the education of all DCPS children.
The Chancellor and I agree that one of the top issues is the unacceptable and growing achievement gap.
Chancellor Wilson asked me to share with him the union’s ideas for improving schools and, maybe most importantly, for making sure that our most vulnerable children are not left behind. Many of these ideas come directly from you, WTU members—those on the frontlines in our classrooms. These are real solutions designed to ensure that all children are receiving the support and education they need regardless of their ward or Zip Code.
The priorities I shared with Chancellor Wilson included ensuring that we have safe, welcoming neighborhood schools, a collaborative approach to developing and keeping high-quality teachers, and the importance of a solid curriculum based on adopted standards.
I also stressed the need for wraparound services, including partnerships with social service providers, that can help mitigate the detrimental effects of poverty. Closing the achievement gap requires a strong partnership between the district and the union. Our school district has a great untapped resource—its teachers—who are ready to help.
I am hopeful that the selection of Chancellor Wilson will usher in a new era of cooperation, mutual respect and success.
Finally, I want to invite you to attend our Shared Vision Conference on February 25 at Gallaudet University. Our keynote speakers will be Chancellor Wilson and 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes. The conference will also feature a wealth of informative workshops. I look forward to seeing you there!
Elizabeth Davis, President
WTU is committed to representing every educator in the District of Columbia Public Schools