Washington DC Teachers Release Report to Safely Reopen Schools
Teachers outline ways to protect teacher and student health while improving distance learning
WASHINGTON — Concerned about the lack of teacher input into conversations about how we safely reopen schools in the District of Columbia, the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) released recommendations for how the District can work with teachers to ensure their safety and improve the education of DC students as the city reopens schools for instruction.
“The move to close our schools and move to Distance Learning in the spring was the right choice,” WTU President Elizabeth Davis said. “However, Distance Learning shined new light on the widespread opportunity gaps and the digital divide that plagues our city. As we move to reopen our schools this summer, we must do so in a way that protects the health of our teachers, students and communities while also investing in our technology infrastructure.”
The WTU convened a taskforce of more than 200 teachers to make recommendations that seek to ensure the health of teachers, students and families as the District resumes in-person learning this summer, against the general guidelines outlined in the city’s Reopen DC Committee report that recommends continued Distance Learning through Phase 3 of the reopening.
“We recognize the importance of reopening our schools as the first step in restarting our economy,” Davis continued. “We must do so with our teacher and other front line voices at the center of the conversation to prevent an increase in infections.”
The WTU taskforce also makes recommendations about improvements to Distance Learning, with the understanding that many students will not be able to return to school full-time in the 2020-21 school year due to social distancing requirements. To help improve student participation, the WTU calls for an increased investment of $11 million to ensure all DCPS students receive a computer or tablet in the District’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
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DC City Council
Joint Budget (Fiscal Year 2021) Oversight Hearing:
Committee on Education & Committee of the Whole
June 4, 2020
Testimony of Elizabeth A. Davis, President
Washington Teachers’ Union
The novel coronavirus and the subsequent school closures have made clear that schools play an outsized role in our community — they are so much more than places to learn. Schools provide vital nutrition, physical safety, mental health and critical developmental supports to tens of thousands of students across the District every day.
Rodney King, Malice Wayne Green, Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor.
These names are a call to action. They remind us that – as W.E.B. DuBois said “A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.” It is time that we embrace change and move beyond simple rhetoric.
I am a teacher. I believe our students are only limited by the opportunities that we provide them. Our school systems should be the great equalizer. Our schools must be a place where students can come and learn, a place where they can rise up and achieve. Unfortunately, here in the District of Columbia, we have a two-tiered system of education. And the inequities and the gaps are continuing to grow. Today, I call on you to make the changes needed to ensure every student – regardless of their zip code or luck in the lottery – receives a high-quality, well-rounded education.
You can read President Davis' full statement here.
DC City Council, Committee on Labor & Workforce Development
Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Oversight Hearing
Testimony of Elizabeth A. Davis, President
Washington Teachers’ Union
AFT Local 6
The reopening of our school doors will serve as a symbol of our city’s recovery. How we invest in our school system and its employees in the upcoming school year will serve as a symbol of our city’s values.
The novel coronavirus and the subsequent school closures have made clear that schools play an outsized role in our community — they are so much more than places to learn. Schools provide vital nutrition, physical safety, mental health and critical developmental supports to tens of thousands of students across the District every day. They also play a key role in supporting members of the city’s workforce as a place where their children can thrive while adults are at work. Our teachers are front line employees, required to show up each day despite risks to their health and the health of their families. Teachers will be critical to our city’s economic recovery.
-- Read More -- You can download and read our full statement here.
WTU Teacher Leaders are full-time educators who have been selected to join a nationwide network through the American Federation of Teachers. They are taking an active role in influencing policy in a number of areas, including teacher leadership in school change, teacher retention, professional development, the critical role of librarians, and the impact of student discipline issues and overall policy changes that will ultimately help improve educational outcomes for all DCPS students.
We invite you to read their final research reports.
Davaun A. Barnett, Sr, Leckie ES
Clare Berke, Banneker HS
Rhonda R. Crittendon, Houston ES
Kristian Ellingsen, Columbia Heights EC
Nijma Esad, Hart MS
Ashley Kearney, Ron Brown HS
Maria McLemore, Cardozo EC
Lindsey R. Nelson, King ES
Valerie Ridley, Anne Beers ES
Shanice Smith, Barnard ES
Donald E. Thompson, Jr, Anacostia HS
Keisha Warner, Barnard ES
We'd like to congratulate our Middle & High School Winnings!
Dane Briscoe, McKinley MS
Katherine Salmeron, Luke C. Moore HS
Devonya Gassaway, Ballou HS
Lissbeth Garcia-Rodriguez, Hart MS
Bailey Mason, Eliot-Hine MS
We'd like to congratulate our Elementary School Winners!
Isaiah Walker, Watkins ES
Margot Mulgrew-Whyte, Bancroft ES
|2nd Place||Maiara Guilmard, Tubman ES|
|2nd Place||Felix Mulville, Horace Mann ES|
|3rd Place||Maya Vogt, School Within A School @Golding|
|3rd Place||Zipporah (Zippy) Steiner, Lafayette ES|
|3rd Place||Phoenix Gueory, Watkins ES|
|3rd Place||Zabrin Nawal Zaihan, Marie Reed ES|
|3rd Place||Hans Spitzer, Key ES|
|3rd Place||Owen Perez, John Eaton ES|
|3rd Place||Nathaniel Clauss, Key ES|
Your Voice is Needed NOW!
Help us ensure our schools receive the funding they need for next school year.
We understand that making budget choices in a pandemic economy is challenging, but city leaders should look to the Great Recession as a cautionary tale for what can happen if we reverse investments in our schools. Nationally, less funding led to worse academic outcomes and massive layoffs of school staff, consequences that would only prolong our city’s recovery. To prevent these predictable results, the mayor and D.C. Council should hold the education budget harmless by raising revenue and strategically leveraging federal support.
The DC Line published an Op-Ed from President Davis along with Alyssa Noth and Qubilah Huddleston from the DC Fiscal Policy Institute outlining our position on the School Year 20-21 Budget. We hope you’ll read it and share it widely.
These city-wide priorities can't overshadow the decisions being made at local schools, including proposed cuts to School Library Programs. The American Library Association sent this letter to Mayor Bowser and city council members, opposing proposed cuts to School Library Programs across DC Public Schools. We invite you to sign the Petition for DC School Librarians to ensure our school system is fully funded AND every DCPS student receives a rich, well-rounded education.
We’re asking for your help in Ensuring Our Teachers and Our Students have what they need to succeed in the next school year.
Contact: Joe Weedon
Washington Teachers’ Union Endorses Robert White
for Reelection to DC Council
WASHINGTON – The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) today announced its endorsement of Robert White in the Democratic Primary for DC City Council At-Large Seat.
“During his time on the DC Council, Robert White has stood up for stronger transparency efforts, led the charge to Save Washington Met via emergency legislation, and listened to teachers when we testified regarding the IMPACT evaluation system and its relation to high rates of teacher churn,” said WTU President, Elizabeth A. Davis. “We have worked closely with Robert White for the past 4 years and are looking forward to working with him in the future on the Council.”
The WTU announced its endorsements for Ward –based seats earlier this year, supporting:
- DC Council, Ward 2: Jordan Grossman
- DC Council, Ward 4: Janeese Lewis George
- DC Council, Ward 7: Anthony Lorenzo Green
- DC Council, Ward 8: Trayon White
“We are proud to endorse a strong group of local Progressive candidates who will work with educators to improve education and address the barriers that our students face across our great city,” Davis continued.
The WTU’s Committee on Political Education (COPE) is a member-driven committee that issued a questionnaire to candidates, conducted candidate surveys, polled WTU members, and presented its recommendations to the WTU executive committee. The WTU executive committee then presented its recommendations to the WTU Assembly where representatives voted to approve the endorsements.
"We need a government who will work for all of our students,” said Laura Fuchs, chair of the WTU’s Committee on Political Education. “The WTU believes this progressive group of candidates is willing to challenge the status quo and take a strong stand on behalf of our public school community."
Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 for the DC Democratic Primary. The WTU will make endorsements for the city’s Independent at-large council seat and State Board of Education seats prior to the November general election.
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