Posted tagged ‘Schools’

Talking Education with Laura Wilson Phelan

February 2, 2015

Yesterday our Ward 1 representative to the State Board of Education, Laura Wilson Phelan, hosted a community meeting to discuss education priorities with residents. The meeting was held at Bloombars on 11th Street and began at 3 p.m.

Laura Wilson Phelan(Laura talking to neighbors during the meeting)

There were about 15 or so residents at the meeting, including ANC Commissioners Kent Boese (1A08), Rashida Brown (1A10), and Frank Agbro (1D01).  The meeting began with Wilson Phelan having each attendee write their most pressing educational concern on a piece of paper, which was then posted so that all could read what everyone had written. Based on these ideas, there were three central themes that arose.

  • Organizational and physical challenges,
  • Arts and education; and,
  • Language immersion education.

After recognizing these areas of interest, the meeting members broke out into separate groups to discuss 1 and 3 year goals within each and then reported back to the whole.

It was a very interesting meeting with a lot of good ideas. Among the topics shared where concerns about disparities between public and charter schools, the need to re-integrate communities with their local public schools, the value of the arts to education, and the need for more language immersion schools and their value to education as a whole.

Along the lines of building stronger community-school relationships, I shared how valuable it is to find opportunities for each group to interact with the other to build a strong community-wide advocacy group for each school. While this can be done by identifying community and school leaders who regularly meet, I believe there is also value in developing shared programs such as community plays, concerts, or festivals where those living in the neighborhood get to experience and share in the successes of local schools and know first hand both the progress and challenges that schools are facing.

While time didn’t allow for drilling deeply into the issues raised, it was an excellent beginning for Wilson Phelan. She set a strong precedent for what I’m sure will be a sustained collaborative approach to finding opportunities to advance education in D.C.

Laura Wilson Phelan meeting

 

Bruce and Wilson Normal Schools Achieve Landmark Status

November 21, 2014

Bruce School 1900(The Blanche Kelso Bruce School, ca. 1900)

Yesterday, November 20, 2014, two landmark nominations, authored by me, were considered by the Historic Preservation Review Board and approved.

Both the former Blanche Kelso Bruce School and the James Ormond Wilson Normal School buildings were added to the D.C. Inventory of Historic Structures when the Historic Preservation Review Board voted unanimously in support of the nominations. Both schools currently house charter schools. The Bruce school building, at 770 Kenyon Street, NW, is currently the home of Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy, Chavez Prep Campus, and the Wilson Normal school currently houses the Carlos Rosario School.

For those wanting to learn more about these buildings, the Historic Preservation Office’s staff reports provides a concise overview.

The staff report for the Bruce school concludes (read full report here):

The principal significance of the school is as an educational facility, serving generations of African-American elementary students during the era of segregated schools. Like other neighborhood schools, it grew out of and grew up with the community, serving as a community center in all senses.

The building is significant as well as a great example of one subtype of school, a product of the “Architects in Private Practice” era of 1897 to 1910, as described in the Multiple Property Documentation Form Public School Buildings of Washington, 1862-1960. It also stands as an interesting application of Albert Harris’s extensible school design as an addition.

The staff report for the Wilson Normal school states (read full report here):

The property retains excellent historic integrity, including its original lunch-room ell, its chimneys, etc. It has the expected alterations and repairs for a building a century old, such as window replacements. Its appearance has changed with some entry features erected for the present occupant, a charter school, but these alterations are ultimately reversible.

The nomination proposes a period of significance from 1912, the principal year of construction, to 1987, when the school was vacated by the teachers school, which had been merged into the University of the District of Columbia beginning in 1978. While 1987 is a pretty recent date to be considered historic, such a terminal date has few implications for the preservation treatment of the building exterior, given its remarkable preservation from a century ago. Further, if the continuity of Wilson Normal including its mergers into more modern institutions is important, then recognizing this entire span is reasonable.

Both nominations will be forwarded to the National Park Service for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

1st Annual Bruce-Monroe at Park View Community Fair Day This Saturday

June 17, 2014

This coming Saturday, June 21, 2014, from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. our local elementary school — Bruce-Monroe at Park View — will be having their first annual Community Fair Day to celebrate the end of school (see flyer below).

The day will begin with a parade that will start at the old Bruce-Monroe site and end at the current school/Park View Rec Center. The parade is scheduled to occur between 10:00-10:50 a.m. and will commence from the old Bruce-Monroe site on Georgia Ave. and go up Warder Street. From 11:00-11:30 a.m. the school’s principal, Dr. Palacios, and the administration will address the community and officially open Fair Day 2014.

The entire community is invited to participate. The Fair will have food for sale, a Moon Bounce/Water Slide, Free Activities, face painting, Tye-Dye, and performances from the students.

Lastly, I understand that the school is still in need of community volunteers to help with set-up/take down of the games and running one of the booths. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Dual Language Program Teacher Maribel Bravo at Maribel (dot) Bravo (at) dc.gov.

BMPV Fair Day

Where DC’s Homeless Children Learn

May 6, 2014

The following interactive map appeared on DCist yesterday, and I found it fascinating.  According to DCist, the map was created by D.C. public and charter school students and shows where D.C.’s homeless children go to school.

The map appeared earlier on Sandra Moscoso’s Middle Child in DC blog . Moscoso explained the process students used to create the map in these terms:

A team of students from Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan EC (DCPS) and BASIS DC (PCS) were invited to share their DC Food Deserts project at the Tech Embassy as part of DC’s inaugural Funk Parade. While preparing for the Tech Embassy, they decided they wanted to address current issues in DC schools. Saddened by Relisha Rudd’s disappearance, they were surprised learn how many students in Relisha’s school are homeless. Wondering whether there were homeless students in all DC schools, they reached out to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to request data about number of DC students enrolled in schools.

OSSE shared the data (along with encouraging words e from State Superintendent himself, Jesus Aguirre, saying, “Thanks for focusing on such an important issue. We can’t wait to see what you build!”), and the students were able to create a map that shows homeless student enrollment by school (for DCPS and PCS).

While the map certainly doesn’t solve homelessness, I do think it helps bring a better awareness and understanding to the issue — particularly with regards to children and eduction — which ultimately could assist in overcoming some of the obstacles and challenges that homeless students face.

Homeless student map(Click on map for interactive version)

The Past, Present, and Possible Future School Boundaries for the Park View Community

April 9, 2014

At the end of last week, DCPS released the proposed new school boundaries which have been on many parents minds these days. The Washington Post had an article on this published on the April 5th which is worth a read, but more importantly, they published a good map which shows the proposed changes.  With this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to also post some historic boundary maps (from not that long ago) to help parents in the neighborhood better understand what changes have already occurred.

The Future — Here’s what has been proposed as the new boundaries for Bruce-Monroe @ Park View:Proposed new boundaries 2014(In this map, a small area northeast of Rock Creek Church Road and 5th Street (formerly part of Clark) are added to the school boundary, and everything once part of the Bruce-Monroe School boundary west of Georgia Avenue and south of Gresham will go to neighboring schools)

The Present — The map below shows the current school boundaries that went into effect when Bruce-Monroe and Park View were consolidated in 2008. The boundaries for BMPV are still the current boundaries:Current Bruce-Monroe Park View boundaries

The Past — And here are the school boundaries for Park View Elementary and Bruce-Monroe Elementary prior to the 2008 consolidation. First, Park View:Park View boundaries 2007

Second, Bruce-Monroe:Bruce Monroe boundaries 2007

In comparing the maps, one thing I find interesting is how close the proposed new Bruce-Monroe @ Park View boundary is to the former Park View School boundary, with the lion’s share of the former Bruce-Monroe School area going to either Tubman or Cleveland.

Some School Modernization News

February 27, 2014
Class room at the BMPV school after modernization.

Class room at the BMPV school after modernization.

On February 25, 2014, the Washington Post posted a brief article related to school modernization funding. They listed some winners and losers in the battle for school modernization funds with Roosevelt High School and Powell Elementary School high on the list of winners. The list of losers included the Bruce Monroe @ Park View Elementary school with a loss of $41,684.24 in modernization funding. The source of this news was a letter that Mayor Gray sent to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson requesting to reprogram $96, 868, 000 of Capital Funds Budget Authority and Allotment from the Department of General Services, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education to the Department of General Services.

In reading through the document, despite the large sums and the projects listed, I’m not thinking that this news or request is as dire as it sounds. In fact, this is exactly the type of document I would expect the Mayor to send to the Council as he’s working on his FY15 budget. Unless I’m misreading the letter to the Council, the Mayor appears to be seeking to use funds that had previously been set aside for other projects that are surplus or idle in order to complete other projects that were scheduled in FY14 (current fiscal year). In the case of Bruce Monroe @ Park View, this certainly seems to be the case as $41,000 is not a lot of money when it comes to modernizing a school, as each phase of the modernization should be significantly more than that. This suggests that maybe the money connected to BMPV that they Mayor is seeking to reprogram could, in fact, be a surplus remainder from the 2012 phase I modernization.

I’ve reached out to the Mayor’s Office requesting more clarification on this reprogramming of funds. If it is confirmed that this is nothing more than identifying stagnant pools of remaining funds from closed projects, I’m all for it … and it definitely makes a world of sense to reprogram these funds in advance of developing and announcing the FY15 budget.

I’ll let folks know if there is anything dire after I hear back from the Mayor’s office.

Historic Photo of the Wilson Normal School

September 10, 2013
From the collection of the author.

From the collection of the author.

I recently found this image of teachers and students at the old Wilson Normal School studying Sycamore seed balls and buds. The image wasn’t dated, but it is probably from the early to mid-1920s. The location of the scene is along Eleventh Street between Harvard and Girard streets looking toward the northwest.

Residents know the school better today as the home of the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School. It is located at 1100 Harvard Street, NW.


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