Yesterday, the D.C. Council unanimously approved Education Chairman David Grosso’s bill entitled “The Student Fair Access to School Act.” The legislation is an attempt to limit public schools ‘ ability to suspend students in grades Kindergarten through twelfth grade out of school. The legislation was opposed by FOCUS, the DC Public Charter School Board, and most charter schools. There was powerful testimony published here against the bill by Michael Musante, FOCUS’s senior director of government relations; Scott Pearson, executive director of the DC PCSB; and Shannon Hodge, executive director of Kingsman Academy PCS.
Mr. Grosso commented upon the vote of the council:
“The Student Fair Access to School Act is transformational—it breaks the traditional model of school discipline which pushes students out of school and, too often, into the courts. This shifting mindset will result in students being better prepared to succeed academically and safer school environments for all. . . The Student Fair Access to School Act is the result of over a year of work, which included input from students, parents, teachers, school leaders, student and family advocates, researchers, mental health practitioners, government agency heads, and my colleagues. I appreciate that time and input immensely and urge the mayor to join us in this effort on behalf of students by signing Fair Access into law.”
In other local education news, WAMU’s Martin Austermuhle reports that Mayor Bowser may be open to having an outside group perform a top-to-bottom review of what ails DCPS. Apparently there have been discussions between Ms. Bowser and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson about creating such a commission, which is modeled after what Virginia Governor McAuliffe did in his bid to reform Metro. This proposal is in addition to D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh’s idea to create a research arm of the government that would evaluate data coming out of the city’s schools.
I could really save them all a lot of time. Simply figure out how to increase dramatically the number of charter schools and private school vouchers in the nation’s capital.