Gentrification and Schools

I’ve been in the DC area since the mid 1990s. I remember when a friend described sending your child to DC Public Schools (DCPS) as a form of child abuse. So I really don’t think current residents have an appreciation of DCPS improvements and the options that DC Public Charter Schools (DCPCS) provide.

210 P St NW Open House
View of a charter school and a public school from a new development.

So I found an announcement for a talk about “building healthy, respectful, and equitable communities in gentrifying schools” interesting. Interesting as in curious, not interesting as in actually showing up. The event has a Facebook page if the topic is of interest to you.

Despite DC’s demographic change in the last few decades where the African American population is no longer above 50%, Blacks remain a huge majority in DCPS schools. The percent of AfAm students dropped only from 71% in the 2011-2012 year to 62% in 2016-2017. Still a majority. The Latino and white student population rose from 15% & 10% in 2011-12 to 20% and 14% in 2016-17.  And considering 75% of students participate in the DC school lottery, and that has many students commuting across the city (and some from Maryland… bastards) to goal of “building healthy, respectful, and equitable communities in gentrifying schools” curious.

Now I’m not saying anything against integrating schools. Integration is good. I’ve known some adult white DC natives whose parents sent them, purposefully to their neighborhood DC school at some point in their childhood, and they turned into amazing adults with professional jobs. And I’ve heard from DC Charter school parents about trying to make school events more inclusive, a good thing. I can’t say how those efforts worked out because I didn’t have kids nor married at the time, and thus didn’t really care.

If all things remain constant our little man could go to the neighborhood school Seaton (but I’m aiming for Mundo Verde). He can join the 1% multi-racial demographic. Maybe when we get closer to Kindergarten, I’ll find events like this more interesting.

DCPS v DCPCS

Views from Dunbar High School

So one night I decided to test my spouse, the Help, about schools in DC. Sadly, despite all our conversations about schools, we were not in agreement about the nature of schools and our choices.

I created this table for the Help, maybe it will help you too.

 

DC Public School (DCPS) DC Public Charter School (DCPCS)
Free to DC students Free to DC students
DC Government owned buildings Mix (former DCPS buildings, rented commercial space, etc) and locations can change
Available to in boundary K-12 students. Out of boundary & Pre-K must enter My Schools DC Lottery New students must enter My Schools DC Lottery regardless of address
Has wait lists for popular schools Has wait lists for popular schools
Aftercare costs $850.50 for 2018-2019. Before care availability varies. Many have before and after care. Costs on a sliding scale.
More than 1/2 of students are in the DCPS system 47.5% of students are in DC charter schools
Quality varies by school Quality varies by school
State Board of Education members are elected DC Charter School Board members are nominated by Mayor

 

So the schools question- We lucked out no reason to move, now

Yeah, Babyman is less than a year old and I’ve got the next 17 years planned. But you know what they say about plans.

We will be playing the DC School Lottery in 2 years. I’ve got my first choice in mind, even though Babyman has a better chance of getting into Harvard than Mundo Verde.  So what if he doesn’t get into Mundo Verde, it would not be the end of the world because we happen to be in the boundary for Seaton Elementary, which isn’t that bad.

Actually, it is a bit better than the first elementary school I attended. I looked up my old elementary schools (yes, schools) using Great Schools. GS may have its faults but it allows me to compare my nieces and nephews schools with DC schools. Being in DC can warp ones view of things. My other elementary schools have transformed in the (mumble) forty some odd years since I’ve attended. One is a magnet school the other is some sort of community center. My old elementary school scored 4 out of 10, only because it rated highly on race (34% black, 34% white) everything else was 2 out of 10. The former all black elementary school I attended, which is now a magnet school, scored 10 of 10. Racially it is now 15% black, 62% white, 12% Hispanic, and that’s also rated 10 of 10. Students scored 97%-100% proficiency in math and english tests.

Seaton compared to Munde Verde, if you were just going by test scores (Seaton -math 47%, ELA 31%, Mundo Verde math 42%, ELA 44%) are close enough. I’m attracted to Mundo Verde’s bilingual programming and yes, its proximity to my house. Looking at the 2018-2019 waitlist data, the 1,702 long waitlist is, something to keep in mind. The only problem with Seaton, for my needs as a parent, is the lack of a before school program. Munde Verde has before and after care programs.

We really won’t know what his educational needs are until he gets older. Right now his interaction with books involves trying to eat them. He’s giving off a mechanical engineer vibe, in that he seems like he wants to know how things work…. and then he tries to eat whatever it is.

So our in boundary school is acceptable enough that it doesn’t warrant moving out if we don’t get our desired lottery choices. If the boundary changes, then yes, we’d have to consider other options if we don’t get our preferred school. You know what’s cheaper than daycare for a baby? Pre-K Catholic school, and that’s an option.

I Question Surveys- DC Schools

So I just got off the phone with some survey company about DC schools.  It was on our land line, the number we give to people & companies we don’t want to bother with. Most of the time we don’t answer the land line and let the answering machine take it. However, there are times when we do pick up the phone (when I have a feeling it’s IT or B) and just now it was an operator who wanted to do a survey.100_0724.JPGFirst, these phone surveys, the results you may see in the Washington Post or other publications, are too damned long. There was a moment where I thought, ‘okay, I have to eat dinner and I want to hang up.’ I know 10-14 minutes doesn’t seem that long, but I’m not getting too much out of it and a majority of the survey operators struggle with clear English (which means I have to struggle to understand them). So for me it is long and painful.

Second, I sensed bias in the questions asked. Thank you library school and whatever reference class regarding user questions! Whoever made up the survey wanted to remind me about the Antwon Williams scandal (bypassed the school lottery) and seemed to have a slight bias against charter schools.

And lastly, “I honestly don’t care” and “I really don’t have a clue” are never an option. There was a name, I think it was Scott Bridges, but with the thick accent I couldn’t be sure. I was asked how I felt about the person. I knew a Scott Bridges, he moved out of the area, I doubt he would appear in a survey, “don’t know” would have been my real answer, but that was not available. However, if I had those options, I’d make for a boring survey data point because it would almost be completely neutral and that does not sell newspapers or generate clicks. The survey operator did ask if I was a voter and my likelihood of voting in the November elections (highly likely) so it could have been a poll for a pol. Considering how few DC voters bothered to drag their butts out to vote, maybe this will count for something.

Miss L Ainy: Friday 6/22/2018

View inside commerical spacePot Pop Up Po-po-ed

So 1712 3rd Street NW got busted by the MPD for hosting a “Marijuana Pop Party” yesterday. It was a problem, mainly because pot stinks. But it wasn’t the real stuff. When I was last sitting out on the ANXO patio with the Babyman, I could smell the fake pot which smells way worse than real pot. There were 11 arrests, fewer arrests than the other pot pop ups (you kids and your pop up whatevers) the DC Police busted around town.

Daycare Lawsuit Continues Forward

I don’t have anything to add to this in that I’m just keeping an eye on it. I have already expressed my concerns in an earlier post. The city is trying to throw the case out.

and yes I do see the humor that DC is requiring a college degree when

25% of DC Teachers Don’t Have Certifications

meh.

So the Washington Post reported as well on DC teacher certifications. My honest response is *shrug*.

Many moons ago when I had nearly finished up my economically useless History graduate degree, I interviewed for a teaching position at a traditional private New England girl’s boarding school. The expectation was that the new teacher would learn that school’s style of ‘teaching’ on the job. You don’t need teaching certifications to teach at expensive private schools. You do need to know your topic.

Because of the Babyman, we’ve been exploring education options. So we’ve been talking to co-workers and friends who have been to private schools. Apparently the key to a high quality education is scary nuns. I don’t think scary nuns have to be certified.

OSSE please continue to investigate, but do it right

When I’m feeling particularly lazy and the Help is willing, he will drive me to work. On the way there we pass by a charter school where I play a game, reading license plates. In previous years there were more Maryland license plated cars dropping off kids at KIPP. But as there is more attention paid to suburban parents using DC taxpayer funded schools, there are slightly fewer MD cars dropping off kids at KIPP in the morning. But there are still enough to warrant a closer look.

I was happy when I saw that the city was looking into one premier DC public school. Good start, I thought, thinking it was only a matter of time before the city worked their way over to KIPP. The waitlist for KIPP on P Street is way too long for MD kids to be taking spots from DC kids.

Recently, some Duke Ellington School of the Arts parents and guardians who received letters from OSSE about residency requirements sued, as is their right. Apparently the city violated its own policy. I also sympathize with having to deal with bureaucratic stupidity. However, I have witnessed too many morning drop offs of kids from Maryland and Virginia cars in front of DC charter schools, so there are parents committing fraud.

Above me on my bookshelf are the ashes of a woman who committed a similar fraud 30 odd years ago with the Help. My late mother and father in laws used a friend’s address to get the Help in better school because the high school for their address was supposedly drug infested. And recently on a message board I read about a Maryland school system calling area landlords to confirm addresses. It seems people are using fake leases. I understand the reason why. But no kid who actually lives in the District of Columbia should lose out to kids who have representation in Congress.

Babies, babies and more babies

Baby in portable bassinet
Baby in portable bassinet

So we found out two more couples in our general area (two block radius) are pregnant. This is in addition to a colleague of the Help who lives nearby, who recently had a boy. So add those pre-people to the little people who currently occupy our street and we’ll have ourselves an awesome Halloween in a year or so. At one point we had a nice number of toddlers and little kids (5) on our street and it made for fun Halloweens, because they would bring some of their pre-K school friends and have a mass of cuteness go from house to house and it is so fun when you know the kids.

Many years ago, the same thing was breaking out in our two block radius where I was hearing so many wives were getting pregnant, I joked that there must have been something in the water. I might (my memory is fuzzy) have told this to a fellow who was living with his girlfriend, and he laughed nervously. They later married and had a couple kids. So once again, there may be something in the water.

That batch of kids, and their parents, eventually moved away. At the time charter schools were not as valued by the city government and citizens as they are today. The voices saying how charters were so bad were the loudest. Now charters are a part of the system and there are more of them. When my neighbors moved, some of them moved because they did not get into the school of their choice, and at the time, there were not a lot of choices. Some of them moved to be in the boundary of the schools of their choice. And some moved because one of the parents got a job that moved them.

But this time, it’s different. There is the BloomingdaleKids Yahoo group(est. 2009), which has been a wonderful resource for free and cheaper than new stuff, and a way to get rid of stuff. There are more daycares. There are now two daycares above the Shaw metro station (one on S the other on 7th& R-ish) and I see newer child care centers popping up in other locations around town. This time the school lottery is for DCPS and DC Charter Schools, all in one and you can put your child’s name in for 12 schools. There are more charters to choose from and the DCPS schools are improved. There are more reasons to stay and not move as kids get closer to kindergarten. Middle school… that’s a different story.

In the meantime, yay, babies.

A better argument would have been for the suburbs to step up

So the Post has another feel bad about gentrification opinion piece that appeared in Sunday’s print version but has been on-line for several days. Reading “Poverty is Moving to the Suburbs but the On Poverty Didn’t“, I almost think the author is trying to argue that poor suburbanites should use DC resources.

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

My ire burns and seethes every time I see a car with Maryland tags drop off a kid in front of a DC charter school. If Maryland parents like DC charters so damned much they should fight for tons of them in Maryland. It’s not just schools, it’s other services that DC taxpayers support and Maryland citizens, who have the privilege of a vote in both houses of Congress, something DC voters lack. It does not help that many DC government workers live in the suburbs, it may have them forgetting about boundaries. In some cases, boundaries don’t or can’t matter, like foster care* and libraries**. I’m not against co-operation between the Districts and the burbs, but like WMATA, the costs need to be shared.

Or/and suburban areas need to step up. Where they can’t do it themselves, they need to partner with the District or other suburban where it makes sense. But Maryland or Virginia residents using DC agencies as if they were DC residents is wrong. The suburbs have something to offer DC, there are welding classes out there, but not here. We can all help each other out, but each government needs to be accountable to and responsible for their own citizens.

 

*There are many DC kids with Maryland foster families.

**Some systems allow for people who work in the area to apply for cards and privileges.

Subsidized daycare

No this this not going to turn into a mommy blog, but parenting stuff is on my mind, a lot.Eyeglass binky DC bike map

Recently my daycare had an information session and though not said directly, I’m not paying full price for my son’s daycare. The DC government is requiring that child development staff have a 2 year AA degree. I don’t know how the DC government reimburses those who have to take on that burden. What I do know is that our day care provider takes local and federal monies to operate the place. Those of us paying “full price” aren’t really covering the full price necessary to run an accredited daycare center. As one who would prefer a smaller government footprint in her life, this was a little hard to accept. But then my daycare provider had a bunch of qualities I wanted at a price that worked better for me than other places, so I accept it like the ‘terms and conditions’ thing for a program I need.

One of the things mentioned in the info session was how much money the center got per kid for a feeding program. There was a form the center bugged us about inquiring about our income that I avoided and ignored because I knew we, a dual income family, made too much to qualify for subsidized food. After a phone call asking us please, please, please fill out the form, I did. Apparently they needed everyone’s income for a government program and the center gets so much for lower income kids and so much for those who aren’t low income. The difference is big enough that it seems that it would be bad if my daycare was not economically diverse.

The Childcare voucher program

Another thing that came out of the information session was questioning if we made too much for a voucher. The voucher covers a portion (maybe all, I didn’t catch that part) of the cost that the parent pays. There are bunch of things one needs to do to maintain their voucher status, but it was touted as a very good program. An example was provided of someone making what I would consider a good salary who qualified. They were very encouraging of the voucher program. So I checked out OSSE’s site and according to a report we qualified as we needed daycare for certain things. Regarding income: 200.7

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENT:

DOES THE FAMILY’S INCOME EXCEED THE MAXIMUM INCOME THRESHOLD?

In order to be eligible for subsidized care, the child shall reside with a family whose:

(1)Annual gross family income does not exceed two hundred and fifty percent (250%) of the federal poverty guideline (FPL) or eighty five percent (85%) of the DC median income (SMI) [sic] for a family of the same size, whichever is lower, as provided in Appendix 6: Maximum Income Guidelines for Subsidized Child Care; 

and (2)Family assets do not exceed $1,000,000
Well, our family assets are less than $1 million, but we’re above 400% of the 2017 FPL for a family our size, only because both my spouse and I are working. If one of us were to quit or die, we’d totally qualify.
Hey, we now have a safety school
In efforts to support the daycare and leaving no funding rock unturned, the daycare will be expanding into the Pre-K program. They will be starting a program in 2018 where they will be part of the DC pre-K program…. that’s why they need college educated staff/teachers. There is funding, they are going after the funding, and hopefully they will get enough participants lord willing.
What does this mean for me? For the babyman (formerly known as Helpless)? It means we have a safety school when he heads for the school lottery in 2-3 years. Oh hells yes we have been thinking about schools. There are two elementary charters with pre-K programs that I am thinking about for our son. My plan B (I also have Plans C-E) was to have Center City Charter as a safety school. Just like college, you have the school(s) you really want to go to and the safety school you apply to just in case the ones you really wanted don’t pan out. Now his daycare can be a safety school if the PK3 is still around (and we’re still in DC) when he hits the eligible age.
Ours isn’t the only daycare getting into the PK3-4 system. Associates for Renewal in Education, Inc. the center taking up space in the deteriorating Slater school, next to the crumbling Langston school on the unit block of P St is one. Maybe they, like our daycare have also been able to find monies under government and other rocks in order to hang on to that space with an iron grip….. Maybe that’s what we need for the crumbly schools on P Street, a developer to partner with a child development program, to create ‘family housing’ with daycare on the bottom floor.