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Parents United for the D.C. Public Schools
11 Dupont Circle, N.W. Room 433, Washington. D.C. 20036 (202) 518=3667; Fax (202) 319-1010


Annual Fall Meeting
Parents United Meets with Superintendent Vance
New Board of Education Election on November 7, 2000
Citizens Develop Strategies for the New School Board Through the DC School Board Information Project
College and Scholarship Info Available On-Line
Use the Smithsonian Resources to Broaden Education
There Is Help for Low Performing Schools
New Centers Will Help Students with Emotional Illnesses
Our Children, Our Future
Your Child Can Be Expelled — Now! If They Are Not Immunized
The National Symphony Orchestra Needs You
Tutors Needed!
Excelencia en Education
Principal Selection Process
DCPS Facility Planning by the 21st Century School Fund


Thursday, October 12, 2000
6:30 - 9:00
Hine Jr. High School, 8th & Pennsylvania Ave., SE
(Near Eastern Market Metro Station--Enter through the doors on 8th St.)

Come!!! Help us salute those who have worked to improve their schools. Ask our new superintendent, Paul Vance, your questions and give him your ideas to improve our schools. Help Parents United understand your issues. Hors d'oeuvres will be served starting at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will begin promptly at 7:00 pin in the auditorium. To help us get a sense of how many people will be attending, please call 202-518-3667 and tell us if you plan to come.

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Paul Vance, former Superintendent of Montgomery County Schools, has replaced Arlene Ackerman as the Superintendent of D.C. Public Schools. (Ackerman left to run San Francisco schools.) The selection was made by the Education Authority with input from the elected board of Education and the Teacher's Union (both felt it was important to have someone very experienced in running a school system).

In meetings with Parents United this past August, Superintendent Vance spoke of the great need to establish competently run systems to avoid the crises that are making it so difficult to keep good teachers and staff. He believes that the $800 M in local and federal funds for the system should be adequate to the task of educating students if properly administered. Vance is anxious to improve special education, better providing those services for less. Currently, the 15% of our students who have special education needs receive 35% of the education budget.

Vance has proposed focusing on early childhood education. He will look at curriculum, teacher training, identifying gifted students early, and making Head Start a richer academic program. He also wants all students who leave elementary school to be prepared to pursue an academic program if they choose.

In our meetings, Parents United emphasized the need to help low achieving high school students. Parents United made several suggestions: administer UDC's placement tests to high school students so that its know the skills they need from high school to avoid remedial programs, and teachers can provide the support; provide a fifth year of high school to students needing more time to develop skills; raise the number of Carnegie units required to graduate so that seniors are required to take the courses that they need to have competitive skills- Too many students with low skills decide that during their senior year they will only take the two Carnegie units required to graduate rather than the full schedule of academic courses needed to be more academically competitive. We hope to see some of our suggestions incorporated into his academic planning.

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The governance of the D.C. Public School system will change once again after the November 7, 2000 when the public will elect five of the nine school board members. Instead of electing one member from each ward and three At-large members, wards are being combined (1 &2 = District 1, 3&4 = District 2, 5&6 = District 3 and 7&8 = District 4) and citizens will elect one member per district as well as electing city-wide the new President of the Board (previously selected by the School Board members themselves). In addition the Mayor, with the consent of the Council will appoint four members.

Candidates for the elected positions on the school board are running in a non-partisan election. We are concerned when candidates use party designations because it compromises the process.

We encourage you to attend forums in your community. Parents United will submit questions to the candidates and present their responses to the public through the DC Watch web site, (Though we wish we could, we do not have the space in our newsletter to summarize and print the responses of the large field of thirty candidates.) Below are the names of the candidates for the four districts and for President of the Board:

President - Robert Childs, Peggy Cooper-Cafritz, Larry Gray
District 1 - Lenny Johnson, Harvey C. Jones, Malcolm Lovell, Glenn J . Melcher, Julie Mikuta, Thomas E. Smith, Linda Softli, Ann C. Wilcox
District 2 - Hugh Allen; Tommy Duren, Martin Levine, John Foy Lord, Don Reeves, Ivory C. Roberts, Dwight E. Singleton
District 3 - Sunday Abraham, Benjamin W. Bonham, Jr., William B. Boston, Angie King Corley, Gail Dixon, Kathy Henderson, Lois Tett, Tommy Wells
District 4 - William Lockridge, Shoshua Robinson, Cardell W. Shelton, Arthur Wharton, III

There will be several forums where you can get an idea of the candidates who are running for Board of Education. Here is a list of the forums taking place in October that we know about:

10/6/00 - ANC Assembly Forum (District 4), Penn. Ave Baptist Church, 3000 PA. Ave., SE 7-9 p.m. - 387 - 2966.
10/10100 - ANC Assembly Forum (District 1), GWU Hillel House, 2300 H St., NW 7-9 p.m. - 387 - 2966
10/11/00 - Citizens Assoc. of Georgetown (District 2), Christ Church, Ms. Zucker - 337 -7313.
10/12/00 - ANC Assembly Forum (District 2), UDC, Bldg 44 small auditorium, 7-9 p.m. - 387 -2966.
10/16/00 - Gertrude Stein Dem Club Forum (All Candidates), 1 Judiciary Sq. Rm. 700, 7:30 p.m. - 508-3717.
10/17/00 - Chevy Chase Neigh. Assoc., Chevy Chase Senior Ctr.; Democratic State Cmte, ML King Library, 901 G St., NW, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
10/21/00 - Ward 8 Dems, Washington Highland Library, 115 Atlantic St., SW, noon - 2 p.m.
10/25/00 - DC Chamber of Congress, Corcoran Auditorium, 17th & New York Ave, NW, 638-7334.
10/26/00 - DC Bar Assoc., Dave Clarke School of Law, UDC Auditorium, 6:00 p.m. - Thorn Pozen, 942-6196/727-4113

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The DC School Board Information Project has developed a brochure entitled "Our New School Board." To encourage registered voters to vote intelligently for school board members, Parents United is publishing here a portion of the brochure. For the full document entitled: "Choosing Effective School Board Members: District of Columbia Elections, November 7, 2000" call DC VOICE at 202-9868535 or check out the DC League of Women Voters' Web site,


There is no definitive list of attributes of good board members. Most of the writings of school board members and experts on this subject, however, say that a good board member is a person who is:

  • Committed to serve the best interests of all students and respond to needs of all segments of the community
  • Motivated by a desire to serve children and community rather than personal ambition
  • A good team player - not a "long ranger" who works with other team members and is committed to respecting the will of the majority and supporting Board decisions despite disagreement
  • Understands and accepts the role of a Board member and its limits
  • A hard worker, who does his or her homework and comes to meetings prepared
  • An effective communicator
  • Unafraid to speak up for his or her position but is at the same time respectful, fair-minded, consistent, professional and able to separate personal issues from policy decisions
  • Absolutely honest with a strong personal code of ethics
  • Able to spend sufficient time on Board work
  • Unequivocally committed to public education and excellence in public education as the right of every student in the school system


Questions about Issues:

  • Equity: fair distribution of school funding and educational opportunities
  • Board-Superintendent relationship: the Board's process for selecting and evaluating the Superintendent and the ability of the Board and Superintendent to work collaboratively
  • Public information: compilation, adequacy and accessibility to the public
  • Curriculum and program content: quality and availability of education in basic skills (the three R's), vocational education, science/technology, the arts, athletics and PE, etc.
  • Assessment: methods used to evaluate student progress
  • Special needs populations: the quality, cost and availability of services for special education and language minority students
  • Student support services: providing academic assistance to students who fall behind; and dealing with attendance, dropout and truancy prevention
  • Security and student discipline: safety in and around school buildings and responses to student behavior problems
  • Teachers and principals: recruitment, hiring, evaluation and retention, including the role of unions
  • School site-based management: local school autonomy vs. centralized control and the role of and support for Local School Restructuring Teams
  • Parent involvement: school receptivity to parents, school outreach, and systems for resolving and tracking constituent complaints
  • School choice: parental options within DC Public Schools and the impact of public charter schools
  • Schools as community centers: the role of the schools in providing or facilitating government and other agency services for students and families, including adult education, the accessibility of facilities for community use
  • Facilities: size and organization of schools, condition and repairs, and school closings
  • Management systems: fixing payroll, personnel, procurement, food service operations

No candidate should be expected to have detailed knowledge about all of these issues, nor to have professional training or expertise on them. But candidates should have sufficient familiarity with the schools and the community to be able to discuss what the issues are about, to state the priorities on which they would focus, and to articulate the Board of Education's role in dealing with them.

Questions About Candidates:

  • What makes the candidate qualified to deal with the Board roles and responsibilities?
  • What is the candidate's personal involvement with the DC Public Schools? Are or have his/her children been enrolled, and for how long? Volunteer work? PTA/HSA membership?
  • What is the candidate's involvement in the community? Has he/she ever done volunteer work? What, specifically?
  • What is the candidate's experience working in organized groups? Has he/she served on a another mufti-member board? Has he/she come to meetings faithfully and well-prepared?
  • What is the candidate's idea of how a Board member should carry out his/her responsibilities?

For more Information on School Boards

For information on the Candidates

The members of the DC School Board Information Project are: Glenda Partee, American Youth Policy Forum; Angela Christophe, ANC Assembly; Joshua Wyner, DC Appleseed Center; Elizabeth Martin, DC League of Women Voters; Linda Moody, DC Congress of Parents and Teachers; Erika Landberg, DC VOICE; Michael Ivey, Union of Vineyard Workers; Mary Levy & Iris Toyer, Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

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Mayor Anthony A. Williams seeks quality nominations to the Board of Education. Nominees must be D.C. residents and should have a strong desire to serve children and the community as well as be strongly committed to public education. Forward nominations to the Office of Policy and Evaluation, Office of the Mayor, 1 Judiciary Square, Washington, DC 20001, by October 11, 2000 and brought to the attention of Michele Seligman. Call 7276979 for more information.

We want to communicate with you directly through e-mail. Please give us your e-mail address at Remember to include your name and address with your e-mail address.

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Looking for college and scholarship information? Try all or some of these addresses on the web. There are many web sites on-line with information about colleges, including a site for just about every college. Start with the College Board web site. They have tutorials on approaching SAT questions, and a Question of the Day, on which you can test yourself Here are some others:;;;;;;; and

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The Smithsonian Center for Education and !Museum Studies invites schools to take advantage of their Heritage Month programs. Some of the programs include writings or presentations by young people just the kind of motivator that could grab students' interest. Contact Michael Kates at (202) 357-4005 or Tania Said at (202) 786-2403. Here is a list of the Heritage Months in which your school can participate. February: Black History Month; March: Women's History Month; May: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month; September/October: Hispanic Heritage Month; November: American Indian Heritage Month

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Local School Restructuring Teams and school parent organizations should know that funding is available to help their schools strengthen their academic program. Cheryl Parker, Director of Educational Reform says that LSRTs are essential in bringing that support into their schools. The Office of Educational Reform provides schools with facilitators, $35,000 and training. More than 104 school have adopted reform models to date.

The office also helps low-achieving schools select a reform model with a proven record of raising achievement in low-income urban schools. If you think you cannot afford the model, Ms. Parker will work with your school and the office of Categorical Programs to find resources from the U.S. Department of Education that can help your school upgrade its academic performance. A list of the reform models with descriptions are available on the DCPS web site at www.kl2.dc

This year no schools were reconstituted because their test scores were unacceptable. We hope that is a sign that these reform models are working. Call Cheryl Parker at 442-5570 for more information.

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Four new centers will serve students who are suffering with emotional illnesses and related learning difficulties.

  • Washington Center at M.M. Washington Career Senior High - Dr. Edwin Powell, Director 27 O Street, NW
  • Eliot Center at Eliot Junior High - Dr. Leroy Woods, Director 1830 Constitution Ave., NE
  • Hamilton Center at Hamilton School - James Dudley, Director 1401 Brentwood Parkway, NE
  • Moten Center at Moten Elementary - Herbert Boyd, Director 1565 Morris Road., SE

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DC Action for Children's Agenda-setting and Community Mobilization Conference
Thursday, November 9, 2000
9:00 am to 2:30 pm
Armour J. Blackburn University Center, Howard University

Get Ready: to identify pro-child and youth policies and mobilize the community for children and youth
Get Set to collaborate with fellow child and youth advocates
Go! Register today for DC ACT's second annual agenda-setting and community mobilization conference
To register, call 202-234-9404 or e-mail dcaction@

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Don't leave your child unprotected. Don't let your child make classmates sick. Immunize them!!! The reason we don't get polio, measles, mumps, diphtheria and smallpox isn't that they have disappeared, it's that so many of us are immunized. (Can you believe no more chickenpox?)

The Department of Health (DOH) means business. They want full compliance with DC law DC 320 which says, every DCPS student must be immunized. DOH conducts an immunization audit of school nurse records in mid October. DOH will be looking to see that each school nurse has already sent the parents a notice of non-compliance -- the deadline was the 10' day of school. To give students maximum potential to stay in school, principals are to set up an immunization clinic session in the school for students whose parents sign the permission form. If your child is not immunized, this is what you must do:

  • Give the school a form from your health provider showing the date of the immunization   appointment. Give the school your completed immunization record
  • Sign the school's immunization permission slip so your child can be immunized by the school.

UNLESS THERE IS A RELIGIOUS REASON, YOUR CHILD FACES EXCLUSION FROM SCHOOL. Medicaid recipients., contact your primary care provider. Free immunizations will be available on October 21, 2000 at a Health Fair at the Children's Health Center. 2501 Good Hope Road, SE from 10:00 am - 3:00 p.m. For more information on this issue, call the Division of School Support Services at 442-4281.

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Classical music lovers, the National Symphony Orchestra Music in our Schools Program needs you! Parents United has helped the NSO education program find docents to prepare students for concerts. You'll have a training session with the conductor where you will learn more about the music. Even better, you'll meet some of the most wonderful people in the city, our students. It is more fun than you can imagine. Call the Parents United office at (202) 518-3667 to volunteer.

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The Calvary Bilingual Multicultural Learning Center in Mount Pleasant needs people (adults and high school juniors and seniors) to help students in grades 2 - 5 improve their reading skills. The Center has a proven method for training tutors so don't worry if you have no experience. Please call Jorge Gomez at 202-332-4200 if you would like to make a difference in a child's life.

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The Role of Parents in the Education of their Children
8:30 am - 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 7, 2000
Cardozo Senior High School Auditorium
1300 Clifton St., NW

Here is information and resources to help you learn how to be more involved in your child's education and find resources in your community to help. The conference is free and provides breakfast, lunch, childcare and English/Spanish translation.

The conference is part of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans with local sponsorship from the Council of Latino Agencies, Latin American Youth Center, DCPS, NECA, MALDEF, DC VOICE, Multicultural Community Service, Office of Early Childhood Development-DHS, and Calvary Bilingual Multicultural Learning Center.

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The process of selecting a principal involves parents. The Principal Selection Committee consists of twelve members including at least four parents, one a PTA representative. Other members are: (1) LSRT, (1) Building Union Representative, (1) Community person, (3) Teachers, (1) Assistant Superintendent Designee or Central Office Designee, ( ) Personnel Specialist. This summer some schools got the call to form their panel before they knew their principal was retiring. It pays for your parent organization to select people for such activities before they are needed.

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READERS! Start the school year off right by supporting public school advocacy with a donation to Parents United. We are a 501(C)3 organization, so all contributions are tax deductible. Any amount you can afford is greatly appreciated. All our support comes from parents, PTA/HSAs and foundations. Please send checks to: Parents United, 11 Dupont Circle, NW, 4th Fl, Washington, DC 20036.

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DCPS Facility Planning By the 21th Century School Fund

The second round of the Community Dialogues for the long range educational facility master planning process concluded on Thursday, September 28th. These dialogues brought together hundreds of citizens from across the city to discuss options to meet new 21st century school facility standards in the District. Participants, including parents, teachers and community members, engaged in small and large group discussions facilitated by DeJong & Associates with the support of the 21st Century School Fund.

The results of these Community Dialogues will be reviewed and discussed by the Area Planning Committees beginning October 16th. These committee meetings are open to the public.

Area/Ward Date Time Location
Area A (Ward 8) Monday, October 16th 6-8 p.m. PR Harris
Areas B (Wards 6/7/8) Wednesday, October 18th 6-8 p.m. Anacostia SHS
Area C (Ward 7) Thursday, October 19th 6-8 p.m. HD Woodson SHS
Areas D (Wards 2/6) Monday, October 16th 6-8 p.m. Jefferson JHS
Areas E (Ward 5) Tuesday, October 17th 6-8 p.m. Brookland SHS
Areas F (Wards 1/2) Wednesday, October 18th 6-8 p.m. Dunhar SHS
Areas G (Wards 2/3) Tuesday, October 17th 6-8 p.m. St. Columba's Church
Areas H (Ward 4) Thursday, October 19th 6-8 p.m. West ES

For more information contact DeJong & Associates at 202-529-8897 or the 21st Century School Fund at 202-745-3745

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The Editor of UPDATE is Delabian L. Rice-Thurston, Executive Director of Parents United. The Board of Parents United consists of Janice Autrey (W5) and Sheila Carr (W7), Co-Chairs; Francesca Dixon (W2), Treasurer; Karalene Robbins (W5) and Wayne Proctor (W2) Co-Secretaries; and At-large Members: Brenda Artis (W6), Mary Filardo (WI), Sergio Luna (WI), John Pfeiffer (W6), Eluvia Sanchez (WI), Lairold Street (W4), Ron Stroman (W4), Angela Thompson Murphy (W7) and Meg Weekes (W3).

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