It’s budget season. More importantly, it’s SCHOOL budget season. The time of year when DC parents wonder, “how is DC going to stick it to our school this time?”
Joking aside, the unfortunate reality is that when commitments are not met, or when there is a lack of continuity in support, the impact to school communities can be very damaging. On the ground, when school principals should be focusing on keeping up quality programming and thinking through strategies for growth, they are instead struggling to keep basic services and staff. Engaged parent and neighborhood communities go from thinking about how to support and grow enrichment programs in partnership with schools, to spending time drafting testimonies (again), to ensure the city’s commitments are kept.
I don’t know about you, but I would much rather spend my time engaging with my children’s class, chaperoning field trips, being present in their school community, then worrying about how to convince official X Y or Z to follow through on what was agreed to last year.
Last week, I joined a team to organize an event for Bike to School Day, I sent my children to their respective schools with goodies for teacher appreciation week, I helped my daughter pull of a bake sale with classmates in support of the Nepal earthquake(s) victims, and I also helped her enter a project into her school’s science fair. While I was all but in tears by Friday, I feel pretty confident that those are investments that my children will remember and appreciate. They will pay off.
Sadly, I don’t know that I feel the same about the ‘Groundhog Day’ -esque ‘investment’ of having to beg the city to adequately fund schools EVERY YEAR. While I’m extremely proud of how engaged DC parents are in our schools, I have to wonder whether our efforts are effective, when whatever we’ve agreed to with the city can change so radically from year to year.
It has been easy to become jaded, and given that my children are both “Fine, thank you very much” in their respective schools, I have enjoyed some time ignoring the drama.
And then, I saw the photos of the Eliot-Hine bathrooms tweeted by parent Heather Schoell and Ward 6 Board of Education representative, Joe Weedon.
While it’s fair to say that there are likely more than one bathroom in the building, and certainly, classes are not held in the bathrooms, I couldn’t help but think about a Kenyan journalist who had discovered a relationship between student drop out rates and schools without proper sanitation facilities.
I think about how difficult it is to go through adolescence. As a woman, I know that if my workplace did not have the proper facilities, I would likely miss work on the days of the month when I’m menstruating. I think it’s safe to say I would certainly miss those days if I were an adolescent girl and the bathroom stalls were missing doors. Would that pave the road towards truancy?
How can we expect children to learn when we aren’t willing to invest in their environment?
What can you do? Right now?
Pick up the phone, send an email, tweet, spread the word. Below are helpful instructions and information from Joe Weedon’s website. While Joe represents Ward 6 schools, it’s important to note that the children in these schools come from Wards 6, 7, and 8. In fact, 49% of students enrolled in Eliot-Hine and 43% of students enrolled in Jefferson live in Wards 7 & 8.
Please CALL and EMAIL the following Education Committee members asking them to support #Ward6 Schools.
- CM Grosso, Chair of the Education Committee –
firstname.lastname@example.org; @cmdgrosso; Tel 202-724-8105
- CM Anita Bonds, Education Committee Member –
email@example.com; @anitabondsdc; Tel: 202-724-8064
Please copy Ms. Bonds’ Chief of Staff, David Meadows, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please support amendments tomorrow during the Education Committee’s vote on the budget proposal to renovate #Ward6 schools that are in desperate need of repairs.