April 17, 2020
For more information contact:
Joe Weedon, 202-277-9410
Statement on Distance Learning & Reopening Schools
Earlier today, Mayor Bowser and Chancellor Ferebee announced that DC Public Schools will continue Distance Learning through Friday, May 29 at which point the 2019-2020 school year will end. The Mayor also announced that more information will be provided on May 15th about plans for summer learning and the re-opening of schools for the 2020-21 school year.
The Washington Teachers’ Union continues to believe the decision to close our schools and move to Distance Learning is in the best interests of our students, teachers and communities. Decisions on how and when to re-open our schools should continue to be led by public health officials and ensure that the health and safety of our teachers and students is the top concern.
During the move to Distance Learning, the WTU has been in continued conversations with Chancellor Ferebee and other city leaders. We have offered insight into challenges teachers and students are facing and advocated to ensure computers were distributed to students in need and that all students had access to the internet. In response to a request from Chancellor Ferebee, the WTU surveyed its members about scenarios for returning to in-person learning. With over 2,200 responses, the results were universally against returning to school early.
Washington’s teachers are dedicated public servants who are committed to their students. We’ve seen this throughout this current crisis, teachers are stepping up to turn their homes into classrooms, engaging students through unfamiliar technology, and volunteering to teach lessons that are being broadcast on local TV stations. Our teachers have many unanswered questions about what an early return to school means to their students, themselves and their families. It is contingent upon the Chancellor to work in true partnership with the Washington Teachers’ Union to answer teachers’ questions and to protect teachers’ rights as our city develops a new calendar for the 2020-21 school year.
In the coming days, we will be working to collect and share information on what these changes mean for students and teachers across the District. I will continue my conversations with the Chancellor as well as the Mayor and members of the City Council. Rest assured that your Union will be working to protect your rights.
Elizabeth Davis, President
Washington Teachers’ Union
The Washington Teachers' Union formally requested that the DC Council hold an oversight hearing to determine why the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) failed to address safety issues within Head Start programs to appropriate state and federal agencies, how DCPS arrived at the decision to not seek renewal of federal Head Start funding, and the impact of the loss of federal Head Start funds on early education programs and overall local school budgets.
The Teachers' Union previously expressed concern about the DCPS decision.
You can read WTU President Elizabeth Davis' full letter to the Council here.
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April 15, 2020
Statement on Head Start Funding
The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) is proud to support the many early education teachers across the District who create warm, welcoming learning environments for our city’s youngest students. The federal Head Start program is the gold standard for early education and the city has used the funding to enhance Pre-Kindergarten (PK3 and PK4) programs to offer additional supports and wraparound services that promote early learning, health, and family well-being for students across the District. Our city’s investment in early education has paid dividends helping to improve the readiness of students for elementary school and helping schools attract and build relationships with families, boosting enrollment.
The WTU is deeply concerned by DC Public Schools’ (DCPS) decision to not seek federal Head Start funding for the 2020-21 school year and the impact this decision will have on students and our school communities. While DCPS has indicated that allocations to local schools will not shift as a result of this decision, local school budgets have largely failed to keep up with rising costs and inflation in recent years resulting in cuts at the school level. Last year’s budget (Fiscal Year 2020) saw 20 DC public schools, including 17 in Ward 7 or Ward 8, face steep budget cuts. The WTU was extremely concerned with initial budget allocations for the upcoming school year (Fiscal Year 2021) – while not fully released and subject to change due to the public health emergency – which were insufficient to maintain current programming across all schools.
The WTU believes that we must continue to provide high-quality programming and wrap-around services for all Pre-K programs in the District. While the current public health crisis couldn’t have been predicted when this decision was made, our city and many others across the nation will face budget challenges in the coming year. The District shouldn’t be leaving federal resources on the table.
Elizabeth Davis, President
Washington Teachers’ Union
What is Mutual Aid & Why it is important
By Laura Fuchs
Being separated from our students and families, it is hard not to feel helpless in the face of all of this unknown. While it is important to advocate for the government to step up and support our families, we know that there are immediate needs that are still not being met. But community members are stepping up to help each other using what is known as Mutual Aid.
From Big Door Brigade: "Mutual aid is a term to describe people giving each other needed material support, trying to resist the control dynamics, hierarchies, and system-affirming, oppressive arrangements of charity and social services. Mutual aid projects are a form of political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions, not just through symbolic acts or putting pressure on their representatives in government, but by actually building new social relations that are more survivable."
Read more at https://bigdoorbrigade.com/what-is-mutual-aid/
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