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Parents United for the D.C. Public Schools
1300 19th St., N.W. Suite 330, Washington. D.C. 20036 (202) 833-4766



DC Public School System Gets New Home
DCPS Puts Students to Work to Raise Achievement
Parent Training Workshops
Adult Education Programs Contracted Out by DCPS
Facilities Problems? Call the Army
Custodial Staff Cuts
How to Prepare Your Child for College, by Eleanor Oliver
“College Bound” Seeks Students
Washington, DC, Chapter Concerned Black Men, Inc.
Help Turn These Facts Around
Special Education Parents and Advocates Meet with Superintendent, by Tammy Seltzer, Bazelon Center
Parents Are Fighting for Their Title One Money, by Lottie Sneed, Washington Interfaith Network
New Special Education Information Center
Exploring Drug-Free Therapies for Children
Can Your Family Open Its Heart to a Child?


OCTOBER 8, 1998
6:30 - 8:45
SUMNER SCHOOL — 17th & M Sts., NW
(Farragut North Metro Station)

So much has happened this past year. First we will reward activist PTAs and HSAs for getting out and making a difference. Then, parents can hear first hand from Superintendent Ackerman — her thoughts and plans for this year, and discuss, as parents, our goals for our children and the school system. There will be a small reception at 6:30 on the first floor and the meeting will begin at 7:00 on the third floor in the Great Hall. See you there!


After years of criticism for paying rent for downtown office space instead of moving into closed schools, rent free, the school system is finally leaving 415 12th Street — for another downtown office building. The system says the cost of refitting a surplus school for office use was greater than going into an office building. The new offices will located at 825 N. Capitol St. They are still in the process of moving and will be throughout the month of September. You should be able to reach people for a while through the old phone numbers. The Emergency Board of Trustees is already there and can be reached at 442-5454. The Board of Trustees will be holding their meetings at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday evenings every other week (Sept. 23, October 7, etc.) at the new address.

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Take a peek at Parents United’s new Web Page located at:
Also, e-mail us at pudcps@hotmail.com


There is a new program in the D.C. public schools to motivate students to higher academic performance. The School-to-Careers Program will make work experiences a part of every student’s academic life whether they are college bound or work bound after high school. Studies of students show that School-to- Work (STW) programs raise achievement. In a Philadelphia study, students involved in STW programs had higher grade point averages and had significantly lower drop-out rates and higher graduation rates than those not involved. A study of Boston students found STW students more likely to go to college the year after graduating from high school. African American students were also more likely to go on to college the year after graduating from high school if they have participated in STW work-based learning.

The work site experiences will complement the education of every student by incorporating the rewards of the workplace with its academic program. DCPS will reorganize all 17 senior high schools into small learning communities focused on career majors. Using funds from the School to Work Opportunities Act (STWOA) of 1994, DCPS will receive $9.5 M over four years to develop the program throughout the grades. The first year's $1.8 M will go into 9th grade only. Over the years, alternative learning environments for drop-outs, as well as post high school programs and strategies for curriculum and work opportunities will be organized.

  • Elementary students will have industry tours, guest speakers and career days
  • Middle year students will explore careers through field trips, career fairs and interviews with employees in various careers
  • Ninth graders will have project-based activities, visit work sites and develop portfolios of their experiences that employers value
  • Upper grader students will take courses that are academically and technically related to their career, will experience job shadowing, apprenticeships, mentoring, internships and other work-based learning.

Parents must understand what high quality STW is to help ensure that the D.C. program results in expanded opportunities for their children. Students must have hands-on, experience-based strategies that require students to think creatively, problem solve and work well in teams. Work-based assignments should provide opportunities for students to apply academics to real tasks performed in the workplace. Students should participate as productive employees and have caring and nurturing adult mentors and role models.

A 43 member governing council comprised of businessmen, educators, parent representatives and elected and appointed officials — will oversee the process. Moretha Johnson, President of the D.C. PTA is the only parent representative. Do contact her with your feed-back at 543-0333.

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This summer, parents of students attending the Summer STARS elementary and junior high school programs were given the opportunity to attend workshops, conducted by other DC public school parents, on how to help their children at home. The goal was to help other parents understand how they could use every day experiences to assist their children with the reading and math standards.

The summer school principals were allowed to choose which workshops would be offered — the three choices were Reading, Math and Summer Activities. For each workshop, parents were given examples of games, problems and activities they could do at home with their children. Parents were also asked to play games and do problems during the workshop. The parents were given copies of the reading and math standards for the benchmark years, and they were instructed on how to use them to help their children.

The Parent Affairs Office is looking for more parents/guardians/grandparents of all ages of children to be trained to teach workshops this Fall. If you are interested, please contact Margie Ruiz or Lois Berkowitz at the Office of Parent Affairs at 7244235, before October 10, 1998.

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The D.C. public school system has now contracted out adult education services (including GED programs) to private firms. Listed below are the names of the programs and their phone numbers. If you are interested in adult education, please call one of these programs. These programs are all free!

Academy of Hope — Bob Witting, 328-2029; ARCH — Clement Idum, 889-6344; C. Philip Johnson — Philip Johnson, 203-0565; Carlos Rosario — Sonia Gutierrez, 347-3870; Congress Heights — Monica Ray, 563-5200; D.C. Library — Marcia Harrington, 727-1616; Georgetown — Richard Roe, 686-3911; Kennedy Institute — Stephen Wesley, 529-0500; Language, etc. — Pillar Laugel, 3872222; Latin American Youth Center — Lori Kaplan, 483-1140; Delta Adult Literacy — Sylvia Keene, 234-2665; Network of Educators of the Americas (NECA) — Deborah Menkart, 238-2379; Notre Dame — Sister Joan, 884- 9063; Second Genesis — Tom, 656-1545; Spanish Education Center (SED) — Jose Gonzalez, 462-8848; YWCA — Camille Cormier, 626-0700; Roosevelt Adult Center — Sandy Anderson, 576-6451; Ferebee-Hope — A. McKnight, 645-3105.

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School started early this year without fire code hitches and we are ecstatic. Thirty-five roofs and seven air conditioning projects were completed this summer; however our schools still need attention. Many swimming pools are broken. The Woodson SHS pool where students in the Marine Science Program learn SCUBA diving is broken, the Wilson pool is also broken, and the Shaw JHS pool has never opened.

The Army Corps of Engineers is now in charge of developing the school system’s major priorities. If you want to raise the visibility of your child’s school’s problems as the system develops its priorities, contact David Morrow at (410) 962-6091. Parent involvement in long-range facilities planning is delayed while the school system moves.

Remember, priorities are based on the available funds. If every candidate for mayor and council hears from parents that repairing our schools is more important than the new convention center and other “economic development” projects, we just might get the funds it takes to improve our school buildings.

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Where are all the custodians? Is your school getting adequately cleaned? The Superintendent cut 300 custodian jobs (every school lost janitors!), and changed the custodial staffing process so that the number of students not the school size determines how many custodians a school receives. When personnel were ordered, parents were adamant that the cuts should not effect the classroom.

This new process may have other effects on our system. The large schools built for 1,000 students that formerly had 6 custodians based on floor area now have fewer custodians based on student count. Principals have told us that this summer, custodians worked overtime to get the job done but principals are concerned that this cannot go on all year. And we are also told that only the regular enrollment is used to set the custodial count.

Schools with special programs like day care or adult activities that bring additional people into a building . are not given credit for the additional population when computing the custodial allotment.

Population Staff
up to 274 2
275-574 3
575-824 4
825-1024 6
1025-2000 9

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(Eleanor Oliver works in the College Counseling Office at Wilson High School. Below is an excerpt from her very comprehensive step-by-step guide to preparing your child to get into the college of his or her choice). If you would like the complete text, which begins with what to do in 9th grade, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to us and we will send it out to you. We also plan to put it on our Web page soon ( http://www.keybridge.net/parentsunited/ }, but that may take some time. Included here is what 11th and 12th graders should be doing over the next few months. Though this article focuses on the high school student, remember, college starts in Kindergarten. Make sure your elementary school child is ready for math at the pre-algebra or algebra level by seventh grade. Make sure that, if “intensive” courses” are offered, you get your child into them. A hard fought for “C” in a strong course is better than a “B” in a less challenging course. Note that students can start taking SAT tests as early as 7th grade so they are used to the test.)

All parents hope their children will have an easy and successful transition from high school to college, preferably with a generous scholarship. It’s a four-year process and you, along with the involvement of your son or daughter must take the imitative. Do not expect your children to “figure it out” on their own.

GRADE ELEVEN: Students: grades this year will become even more important. Last year's “C” should become this year’s “B.” Colleges look for improvement.

September: Parents: check in with your child’s counselor. Don’t expect your child to do this alone. Its hard to give up a lunch hour just to talk to a counselor. Go with him or her. If you have not already done so, familiarize yourself with all the resource materials in the guidance office, and in the school and public libraries. Students: develop that list of extra-curricular activities. Colleges look for involved students. Get working on that community service requirement. You should begin college scholarship research — college is expensive, try to get all the help you can!

October: Take the PSAT again, this one counts. These scores determine the National Merit Scholars. Your child might become one!

GRADE TWELVE: Students: continue to study hard. Senior year first semester grades are very important. Colleges will request a copy of your mid-year grades (available by January 31). There should be no D’s, and absolutely no F’s.

September: Parents: meet with your child's guidance counselor in a joint meeting that includes your child. Students: review your resource materials and make your final college choices. Send for applications and register for the November SAT or the SAT II, if you have not already taken them, or if you hope to bring your scores up. (SAT II tests are specific subject tests that some of the more competitive colleges require or would like to see on a students record — each college will make clear which exams they require in their application packet.) Make (more) college visits. If you want to go the early admission route start the application process now: the deadline is usually October 1. October 31 or November 1.

Remember: Send your applications to the colleges of your choice as soon as possible. Arrange to have your child’s transcripts and recommendations sent to the colleges. An official transcript must be mailed directly from your school to the college. If it passes through your hands, it is considered unofficial and will not be acceptable. Most applications have a portion that must be completed by the guidance counselor. Do not wait until the last minute to bring this in to the counselor. Most of them are very busy and have many of these applications to complete. Provide a stamped. addressed envelope (extra postage is always advised) so the counselor can send the report. possibly including an official transcript and a letter of recommendation in the same envelope. Also provide a stamped. addressed envelope to each teacher from whom you are requesting recommendations.

November: Take the SAT or the SAT II, if you have not done so yet. You must register for it and pay on time so get the dates straight. If necessary, register for the December SAT II. Start working on your application essays. Many colleges now accept the common application, which definitely simplifies the process. But you still have to write a good essay!

December. Take the SAT II. Review your applications for completeness! Note the application deadline. Meet with your guidance counselor and get the necessary financial aid forms and ask about scholarships. Attend financial aid workshops.

The deadline for most highly competitive colleges is December 31, January 1 or January 31. Many schools, though do have later deadlines. By now you have gotten into the habit of making a Xerox copy of every piece of paper your send anywhere!

January: File college applications if you have not already done so. Check deadline dates for financial aid forms, and file at the correct time. MEET THOSE DEADLINES!! Make written request to your high school’s college counseling office to send mid-year grades as soon as they are available.

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College Bound helps 8th through 12th graders prepare for college. We offer free one-on-one skills-based tutoring, mentoring, SAT preparation, and cultural enrichment activities. College Bound students receive help with choosing colleges and completing college applications. Returning College Bound students may also apply for a College Bound scholarship to help defray college-related expenses.

College Bound is currently accepting applications for students at our Southeast site, located near the Navy Yard metro. New College Bound students must be:

  • entering grades 8-11 in a D.C. public school;
  • from a low-income household — eligible for free or reduced lunch program;
  • earning “middle of the road,” C-range grades;
  • academically motivated and determined;
  • strongly interested in going to college.

Students will be accepted until spaced are filled. Please call Cathy McDonald as soon as possible at (202) 842-4014 for further information.

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Washington, DC Chapter Concerned Black Men, Inc.

Seeking a program to provide hope, shape values, encourage academic success, and enrich the lives of African-American children to create successful adults? CBM has the children, they need you. Call (202) 783-5414!

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  • In 1992, a full 78% of the District’s 4th graders could not read at grade level.
  • Washington, DC has the lowest level of literacy proficiency in the U.S.
  • Nearly 31% of D.C. residents age 16 and over have no high school diploma or equivalent and are not currently in school.


Tutor a child in one of the 16 D.C. Reads schools; collect books and resources; ask friends and neighbors to get involved. Call Communities in Schools of Washington, DC (CISDC) at 289-4314, to find out how you can help DC kids reach their full glorious

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On August 13, members of the DC Special Education Coalition expressed frustration about the lack of communication between DCPS and the special education community during a meeting with Superintendent Arlene Ackerman. They are angry that all anyone hears about special needs programs from the DCPS' Chief Financial Officer and elected officials is that special education is a “budget buster.” Such comments only serve to pit special education against regular education at a time when the entire school system needs to work together. Ms. Ackerman apologized, noting that lack of communication was not due to disinterest, but came out of a combination of factors including her sudden transition from Chief Academic Officer to Superintendent and severe administrative staff cuts and reorganization. She pledged that next year the budget process would begin much earlier and would include community input.

Ackerman announced several actions that should improve Special Education. Carrie Johnson, Principal of Prospect Learning Center, is appointed the Director of Program Development for Special Education, and Ackerman hopes to hire an Executive Director of Special Ed. soon. She announced a plan to require all teachers to take a series of three classes on the “exceptional child” (which includes gifted as well as special education children) and to take into account whether or not teachers participate in that training. Principal evaluations now include 1-2 points rating their inclusionary practices. (Ten schools are now receiving $20,000 each to develop more inclusionary practices.)

Ms. Ackerman was very disturbed by a survey which revealed that teachers and principals had the lowest expectations for students with disabilities. Coalition members expressed their concern about reported gaps in special education services offered over the summer.

The Coalition includes: The Arc; Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law; Learning Arches; DC Down Syndrome Association; DC Parents and Friends of Children with Special Needs; Family Advocacy and Support Association (FASA); Howard University Research Training Center; Learning Disabilities Association; State Advisory Panel on Special Education; and University Legal Services Protection and Advocacy.

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PARENTS OF SPECIAL CHILDREN, DO YOU NEED A BREAK? Come to our next support session. DO YOU NEED INFORMATION ABOUT HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD MAKE IT THROUGH THE SCHOOL SYSTEM? Come to our next training session. Topics for discussion:
How to Manage Home and Kids Too? and Dyslexia: A Parent’s Experience

Saturday, October 3, 1998
5:00 – Dinner
6:00 – Support
7:00 – Training
Wednesday, October 14, 1998
11:00 a.m. – Brunch
Noon – Support
1:00 p.m. – Training

Call Shema Yah at 529-0254 or 668-5424 (pager) for exact location.

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PARENTS ARE FIGHTING FOR THEIR TITLE ONE MONEY, By Lottie Sneed, Washington Interfaith Network

This Spring the parents of Hine Junior High organized and marched to Anacostia High where Superintendent Ackerman was meeting, to demand $81,000 of Federal Title 1 money that had been due to the school for the prior school year. This drastic measure came after previous efforts to meet with Ms. Ackerman to discuss the issue failed.

Hine parents secured the $81,000 but learned that approximately 100 schools suffered a similar plight. Funds become “lost in the system.” If schools do not “shake these funds loose,” the dollars are designated as unspent funds and carried over for the next year. To date, DCPS has not revealed the names of the other schools and whether they received their funds. However, the amount of “carry-over” dollars for the past three years is significant: $2.4 M in FY 1995: $3.4 M in FY 1996; $3.6 M ($6 M when counting unprocessed requisitions) in FY 1997.

Mary Ellen Beach, DCPS' Director of Categorical Programs explained one problem to Parents United. Schools must spend all of its allotment by September 30th, or it goes into the “general” fund. Signing the contract on time is not enough. If the service is not delivered or the books do not arrive, or the training has not begun — by September 30th, the money is not considered spent. If the Control Board must approve your contract, make sure they get your request in time for you to get the service or product by September 30th. Hine’s delay was Control Board related.

This year the Title 1 program will give $353 per eligible child (up from $275) to each public school (pre-k through 12) in which at least 35% of the students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. In schools where eligible students are 50% or less of the population, pullout programs will return (Title 1 students leave the classroom and go to a Title 1 teacher) because Federal guidelines do not permit whole school services for schools with a minority eligible population. Whole school programs prevented separating children into remedial programs while their regular teachers were moving the classes forward and helped raise the educational level of the whole student body.

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NEW SPECIAL EDUCATION INFORMATION CENTER — ADVOCATES FOR JUSTICE AND EDUCATION and DC ARC hold workshops for families of children with special needs. Sites include Washington Highland Addition 3849 9th St., SE; Children’s Trust 603 50th Street, NE, Howard U’s Blackburn Center (Georgia Ave.); and Allen Chapel AIDE Church 2498 Alabama Avenue, SE. AME and DC ARC are the U.S. Department of Education’s Parent Training and Information Center in DC for parents of children with disabilities. Call (202) 678-8060 for information.

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From Hyperactivity to Health:
Exploring Drug-Free Therapies for Children

Saturday, October 10th 9:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

National 4-H Conference Center
7100 Connecticut Avenue Chevy Chase, MD $100.00

Sponsored by the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reviving the spirit and transforming the practice of medicine.

Call 202-966-7338 for more information or to register

This groundbreaking conference for parents and professionals explores the successful use of such complementary and alternative therapies as: elimination diets, nutritional supplementation, osteopathy, homeopathy and mind-body therapies in the treatment of ADD, ADHD, hyper-activity, learning disabilities, developmental delay, behavior problems, allergies and depression.

Speakers: Peter Breggin, M.D., Author of TALKING BACK TO RITALIN
James S. Gordon, M.D., Director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine and author  of MANIFESTO FOR A NEW MEDICINE  and other leading physicians and psychologists as well as parents.

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CAN YOUR FAMILY OPEN ITS HEART TO A CHILD? Children need traditional foster care, therapeutic foster care, infant foster care, respite care for emergencies, infant adoptions and special needs adoptions. For more information contact Donna Robinson, Community Development Specialist, Family and Child Services of Washington, D.C. — Homes for Black Children at (202) 289-1510 ext. 197.

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UPDATE is edited by Delabian L. Rice-Thurston, Executive Director of Parents United. The Board members of Parents United are: Sheila Carr, Co Chair; Janice Autrey, Co Chair; Elder Wellborn, Treasurer; John Pfeiffer, At- Large; Ron Stroman, At-Large. Parents United thanks the Cafritz Foundation and the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer foundation, as well as the many PTAs and HSAs for their continued financial support.

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