Statement on Distance Learning & Reopening Schools

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.

In Solidarity.

 

Elizabeth Davis, President

Washington Teachers’ Union

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WTU Calls for Council Oversight Hearing on Head Start Funding Decision

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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Statement on Head Start Funding

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

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Mutual Aid

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/

 

Please Share with your school, students and families. Volunteer. And Donate.

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Washington Teachers’ Union and Fox 5 Partner to Air Lessons on TV

For Immediate Release:                                    Contact: Joe Weedon

March 26, 2020                                                [email protected]

                                                                        202-277-9410

 

Washington Teachers’ Union and Fox 5 Partner to Air Lessons on TV

“Learning Doesn’t StopLessons on TV” Geared Primarily

for Students without Laptops

 

WASHINGTONThe Washington Teachers’ Union is partnering with Fox 5 and its sister station, Fox 5 Plus (WDCA), to air lessons on television, starting Monday, March 30, for students who do not have access to laptops or Wi-Fi during school closures.

The lessons, presented by District of Columbia Public Schools teachers, will begin Monday on Fox 5 Plus at 10 a.m. Each day of the week will feature a 30-minute lesson aligned with district learning standards for a particular grade group. Mondays will be for early childhood learners and first-graders; Tuesdays for second- and third-graders; Wednesdays for fourth- and fifth-graders; Thursdays for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders; and Fridays for ninth- through twelfth-graders. Lessons will mostly be in the subjects of English language arts, math and history.

The program is called “Learning Doesn’t Stop—Lessons on TV.”

“We’re doing this because at least 30 to 40 percent of our city’s students do not have access to a computer. They shouldn’t be left out of distance learning because of their economic circumstance,” said WTU President Elizabeth Davis. “Even with the city’s recent investment in 16,400 new laptops and thousands more available in our schools, DCPS has been slow to release them to every student who needs one. Every child needs an equal chance to learn while schools are closed, and we’re working to help fill the gap with lessons on TV.”

Patrick Paolini, general manager of Fox 5, said the station was thrilled to team up with WTU in this time of crisis.

“Fox 5 is committed to serving the community in any way we can. The lessons on WDCA taught by our community heroes—teachers—will help kids keep learning as we all get through the coronavirus crisis together in a variety of ways,” Paolini said.

The lessons on WDCA will be promoted daily on Fox 5’s “Good Day DC” morning show and on TEGNA-owned CBS affiliate WUSA9’s “Great Day Washington” morning program.

“Helping our community’s children to keep learning is one of the greatest public services we can provide during this trying time,” said Richard Dyer, president and general manager of WUSA9. “We’re glad to partner in this effort to make sure D.C. students have access to various avenues for learning.”

Teachers also will post the lessons on WTU’s website, www.wtulocal6.net, so students and their families can work on the lessons discussed throughout the week.

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Statement on Release of Computers

March 25, 2020

For more information contact:

Joe Weedon, 202-277-9410

 

WTU Urges DCPS to Release Laptops to All Students in Need

 

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) President Elizabeth A. Davis issued the following statement today.

“The WTU’s top priority during this public health crisis is the safety of our city’s teachers and students. However, as we enter this new and uncharted territory, teachers across the city are increasingly concerned about the digital divide that plagues our city.

“DCPS must act TODAY to ensure all students, in all grades, have access to computers as we embark on Distance Learning across the District. We urge the Mayor and DCPS to act immediately to ensure widespread access to computers for all families in need by expanding device distribution to include Middle and Elementary school students.

“In the coming days, public health experts expect the crisis facing our nation to grow. Each day that we delay is another day that students will go without access to their lessons and interactions with their teachers and potentially undermine efforts to distribute them.

“We recognize that there are additional barriers that must be overcome during this crisis. The distribution of laptops will not solve all our concerns. We are working with local TV stations as well as DCPS to make video lessons available to students and their families, and we must also identify ways to further expand Wi-Fi access to all students.

“The gaps that have become apparent across our city during this crisis are not new. We have long known that they have existed. They impact the achievement of our students and the success of our teachers and schools. As we emerge from this crisis, we hope to work with our city’s elected leadership to re-examine the impact of the digital divide and opportunity gaps on our students, reform our teacher evaluation and school accountability metrics to de-emphasize federally-mandated standardized tests that reflect these gaps, and to prioritize reforms to close the achievement gaps that plague our public schools.

“We encourage all families and community members to follow the advice of local public health agencies during this crisis. The latest updates, including locations where students can obtain free meals, are available at https://coronavirus.dc.gov/.”

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Member Update - March 18

We want to Thank everyone who was able to join us for a chat with President Davis on Monday evening. At the peak of the call, we had over 400 people on the line. We’ll host additional Virtual Town Halls as the situation requires. Yesterday, we compiled the information we received via text, email and on the call and shared a list of topics we discussed with DC Public Schools officials. Today, we want to share that information with you. We encourage you to continue to share your questions and concerns with us via email at [email protected] or contact your Field Rep.

We have a(nother) short survey we’d like you to complete to help us understand the challenges that you’ll face as we move to Distance Learning on Tuesday, March 24. Please click here: https://forms.gle/VDppXqxdj8EKa3EK8

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The Access Gap

Our top priority during this public health crisis is your health and that of our community. However, we also want to ensure that instruction can continue and that we support teachers & students in this transition. We know that many of our students will lack computers and internet access (Comcast has made internet access available, free in many cases). If you identify a student or family in need of a computer or internet access (Comcast has made internet access available, free in many cases), please email your school and the grade of the student to [email protected]. We want to ensure that DCPS and our city’s elected officials are aware of the needs and that Distance Learning doesn’t increase our city’s achievement gaps.

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Virtual Resources for Distance Learning

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