Morning Brew - March 16, 2020

This is a tough time for all. COVID-19 has had an unprecedented and devastating impact around the world. The District has declared of a State of Emergency giving the Mayor wide latitude to close government offices and schools. DC Public Schools’ (DCPS) has developed a plan to modify operations through Tuesday, March 31.

The health of our teachers and our community is our utmost concern during this crisis. We have been in continual conversation with the Chancellor and have requested that the Chancellor cancel tomorrow's Professional Development in light of recent CDC guidance limiting gatherings of 50 or more individuals as well as reports that at least one DCPS teacher has been exposed to the virus. The WTU encourages all teachers to ensure they put the health and safety of themselves and their families first as they consider whether or not to report for tomorrow's PD sessions.

We are also working with DC Public Schools to clarify the expectations for School-Based Employees over for the period of Distance Learning that begins on March 24. Last Friday, we sent a letter to the Chancellor asking for clarification on numerous issues including:

·       Concerns about needing to report to schools that have not been deeply cleaned on Monday, March 16 (we have since called for PD to be cancelled or for provisions to be made for teachers to attend remotely);

·       Access to Distance Learning tools and resources as well as concerns that many students will lack needed technology and internet access;

·       The lack of a process and timeline for developing clear expectations for teachers, in partnership with the WTU, for any period of Distance Learning; and

·       The unilateral decision to move Spring Break without prior engagement with teachers or the WTU.

The WTU is concerned that disruptions in instruction and disparities in access to technology will create uneven results on standardized testing due to occur later in the Spring. As such, we have recommended that DC suspends PARCC testing and that tests are not used for school accountability and teacher evaluations for the coming year.

We’ll continue to share information as it becomes available and encourage you to be in communication with your Building Representatives and Field Representatives if you have any questions or concerns. 

We urge you to follow the advice of health professionals. Many resources, including information about how to protect yourself and your family, are available on coronavirus.dc.gov. The symptoms that are currently being seen with coronavirus (COVID-19) are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you experience the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or have reason to believe you have been exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19), call your healthcare provider before visiting a healthcare facility.

AFT Resources on the coronavirus are available here: https://www.aft.org/coronavirus

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Virtual Tools and Resources for Distance Learning

Virtual Tools and Resources for Distance Learning

 

Please join WTU Professional Development Coordinator Sarah Elwell for a virtual session via Zoom that explores virtual tools and resources that can be used for distance learning and communicating with students and families in the event of a school shutdown.

 

Time: Mar 14, 2020 11:00 AM

 

Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/848478429

 

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Time: Mar 16, 2020 09:00 AM

 

Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/433524160

 

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Time: Mar 16, 2020 06:00 PM

 

Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/318373489

 

 

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COVID - 19 -- Specialized Cleaning

Specialized Cleaning

 

In addition to current cleaning activities routinely carried out by DCPS custodians, specialized cleaning is being performed daily.  Enhanced routines include:

 

·       Increased attention to cleaning all frequently touched surfaces in common areas and restrooms, including but not limited to doorknobs, light switches, elevator buttons, tables, sink faucets, toilets, chairs, and any other hard surfaces in common areas.

·       Disinfection of each cleaned surface, such as through the use of a disinfectant spray, after cleaning.

·       Use of CDC-recommended products.

 

Each school has a designated individual who oversees operations. Please contact this individual or your Building Representative if you have any concerns regarding supplies, sink functionality, or other issues that may prohibit the proper washing of hands.

 

For any questions about COVID-19, DCPS encourages you to visit https://coronavirus.dc.gov/, which includes information from DC Health. Questions may also be directed to [email protected].

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COVID - 19 -- Share My Lesson

Share My Lesson – from the AFT

 

To help you prepare for possible school closures, Share My Lesson launched a new community for educators, school staff, parents and community members to find and share ideas, tips, resources and free lessons. This Remote Learning Community has content on the coronavirus, learning-at-home lesson plans for teachers and parents, and resources on social-emotional learning, mental health and trauma-informed practices.

 

In this online community, you can:

Finally, the AFT just published an important checklist of questions you should ask your school or school district now to ensure everyone is prepared for distance learning. This checklist covers important questions on topics such as technology access, preparation and training, and technology support for English language learners and for students with disabilities. Use this checklist to ensure your school, students and parents are prepared.

 

 

JOIN THE COMMUNITY

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WTU Professional Development CANCELLED through March 0

The health of our students and staff remain our top concern. As such, all WTU sponsored Professional Development will be cancelled through Friday, March 20, including the special PD sessions for Flagway Games and Equity.

We'll review information and recommendations from local health authorities and determine early next week whether classes can resume on Saturday, March 21.

 

You can still register for Spring Professional Development Courses here. WTU’s professional development courses are all research-based, peer-to-peer and solution-driven. They all help teachers build content knowledge and mastery of pedagogical strategies.

If you have questions, please contact Sarah Elwell at [email protected].

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Statement on Closure of Washington Met

A school closure is not accountability; it is failure. At a time when our city is investing millions of dollars to expand capacity and programming at our highest performing schools, it must also invest in our most at-risk students. If DCPS touts equity as one of its priorities, closing a school rather than providing resources that will improve student outcomes is the wrong decision for the city to make.

Washington Met is an alternative school that provides unique services to middle and high school students who have not found success in the traditional school environments. It is the only alternative program for middle school students; 100% of the students that attend the school are classified as economically disadvantaged; over 30% of students receive special education services. Closing this school and further destabilizing the students in this community is not in the students’ best interest.

The Washington Teachers’ Union is disappointed to learn of Chancellor Ferebee’s decision to close Washington Metropolitan Opportunity Academy effective at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Over the past few weeks, since the announcement of the potential closure, the feedback from stakeholders and the DC community has been clear – Washington Metropolitan should not close.

We, again, call on Chancellor Ferebee, Mayor Bowser, and the City Council to stop the closure of Washington Metropolitan Opportunity Academy.

 

Elizabeth Davis, President

Washington Teachers’ Union

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Teacher Turnover

DC City Council

Committee of the Whole & the Committee on Education

 

Teacher Turnover in the District of Columbia Public and Public Charter Schools

December 4, 2019

 

I am Elizabeth Davis, president of the Washington Teachers’ Union. The Washington Teacher’s Union represents over 5,000 active and retired teachers. We are dedicated to social and educational justice for the students of the District of Columbia and to improving the quality of support, resources, compensation and working conditions for the public servants and proud teachers who educate our students. Many of our WTU members live and pay taxes in the District and have kids or family members that attend DC schools. I am a DC teacher and DC resident.

In spite of the dedication and best efforts of our teacher members, far too many students in the District of Columbia are stymied in reaching their full potential because of the barriers they face in our schools and in our communities. The barriers our students face are real and the resulting achievement gaps that are present in the District of Columbia are striking. It is time that we acknowledge the truths about our educational systems in our city and directly confront the challenges our students face.

 

See our presentation here.

Read our full statement here.

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Academic Achievement, Graduation Rates, & Test Scores

DC City Council

Committee of the Whole & the Committee on Education

 

Academic Achievement, Graduation Rates, & Test Scores

in the District of Columbia Public and Public Charter Schools

November 22, 2019

 

Testimony of

Elizabeth A. Davis, President

Washington Teachers’ Union, AFT Local 6

 

 

The Washington Teacher’s Union represents 5,000 active and retired teachers. We are dedicated to social and educational justice for the students of the District of Columbia and to improving the quality of support, resources, compensation and working conditions for the public servants and proud teachers who educate our students. Many of our WTU members live and pay taxes in the District and have kids or family members that attend DC schools. I am a DC teacher and DC resident.

 

In spite of the dedication and best efforts of our teacher members, far too many students in the District of Columbia are stymied in reaching their full potential because of the barriers they face in our schools and in our communities. Despite the rhetoric you have undoubtedly heard over the past few weeks and months surrounding the District’s performance on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the release of the District’s 2019 graduation rates, and our student’s performance on PARCC, we have not made “real progress” across the District nor should we continue to embrace the “bold” reform policies that our city has embraced for over the past decade.

 

The barriers our students face are real and the resulting achievement gaps that are present in the District of Columbia are striking. It is time that we acknowledge the truth about achievement gaps and graduation rates in our city and directly confront the challenges our students face.

 

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