What A New Contract for Washington's Teachers Could Signal for Professional Development


Although recent controversial news about DC Public Schools’ (DCPS) newfound budget surplus has overshadowed the release of Washington Teacher’s Union (WTU) and DCPS’ much awaited collective bargaining agreement on April 7th, there is still much to be celebrated. There has been an on-going negotiation between WTU and DCPS’ administration for the last two years, as teacher’s professional needs and student’s academic needs were seemingly coming into conflict. On the new agreement, the joint press release from both parties stated:

“We worked through our differences to come up with a plan for education that best serves the needs of D.C.’s schoolchildren. We never veered from the principle that we must raise academic and teaching standards while also treating teachers fairly and giving them the tools and conditions they need to be effective in the classroom.

“Our combined efforts at the bargaining table have produced an agreement that reflects the importance and value of great teachers in raising the academic achievement of students....the agreement offers a system of checks and balances that will ensure greater accountability from teachers and administrators.”

Specifically, DC VOICE is excited about new terms concerning Professional Development, as it coincides with the platform for our Equity Campaign. Included in Article 2 of the new contract are: 1) targeted Professional Development opportunities to help teachers improve their instructional practices based on DCPS’ Teaching and Learning Framework; 2) funding for three new “high functioning” teacher training centers, intended to organize school personnel into learning communities with clear goals and standards; 3) a city-wide support unit to be guided by a new "Teachers Center Policy Board;" and 4) agreement by WTU and DCPS to form a joint committee to develop and implement a comprehensive mentoring and induction program, intended to provide a continuum of Professional Development for all teachers and specific supports for new teachers during their first three years. To begin, both parties agreed to form the Full and Equal Partnership Committee (FEP). It will consist of the Chancellor and the President of the WTU and as many designees (an equal number from DCPS and the WTU) as they deem appropriate. The intention is that this board will be responsible for implementing the terms of the agreement and that they meet standards established by Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

As one of DC VOICE’s main priorities has been for every Local Education Agency to develop, fund, and publish a comprehensive professional development plan, this contract agreement proves that the voice of all stakeholders are being considered in decisions to bring better educational opportunities to DC Public Schools.

For more information and to read the entire agreement, click here.

Community Schools Report Release


In association with the Community Schools legislation, DC VOICE and the Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership has written a Community Schools report to share with the community to further understand benefits a community school offers students and families.

Community Schools Report 2010                                                            

If you would like a hard copy of the Community Schools report, please send an email to skashim@dcvoice.org.

School Communities & Community Schools: A Teach-In


Involved communities and parents help increase student achievement. When a community is informed about what is going on and empowered to be active in the decision-making, the result is high quality teaching and learning in schools. 

Delays in the redevelopment processes at both Bruce-Monroe/Park View and Turner/Green provide case studies of what happens when promises to a community and its parents are not only broken, but when there is no communication about what will happen next. 

The pending coomunity schools legislation proposed to City Council by DC VOICE provides a picutre of what is possible if "traditional" schools become community schools, which stay open longer and offer multiple services availble to students, families, and the surrounding community. 

 Come to the Teach-In sessions this
Thursday, April 15th, to learn more.

Engage in small group discussions about the facts,
and make recommendations for taking action.

1:30pm @ Bruce-Monroe/Park View ES
3560 Warder St. NW

TO RSVP, PLEAE CALL 202-986-8535 or EMAIL events@dcvoice.org

(Refreshments will be served.)

Demand Reform. Demand Equity.

Our VOICE: The Importance of Cultural Competency in Professional Development


Recently, DC VOICE representatives attended a meeting with the State Board of Education to discuss important issues that our constituents have brought to our attention. In our Campaign for Equity, we have made professional development a crucial component of model for education reform. Outlined in our Supports for Quality Teaching (SQT) framework are seven areas which the public school system and local schools themselves should focus on to not only increase quality teaching but also promote learning. When we asked high school students who participated in past “Youth Voices Front and Center” interview series which items they found most beneficial in the Supports to Quality Teaching framework, they stated 1) Teaching and Learning Conditions, 2) Professional Development, and 3) School-based Administration. However, most students insisted that all seven target areas outlined in the framework were crucial in promoting quality teaching and learning. DC VOICE believes that students’ voices must be included in reform efforts, as they are the main benefactors of the public education system. Not only students but teachers as well have insisted that professional development and supports are an important component of creating an effective learning environment.

Included in DC VOICE’s platform for professional development are courses and workshops, professional networks, extra time, and school-based instructional support and leadership. From the feedback of students, we have augmented this list to incorporate cultural competency, which is the ability to understand, respect and effectively work with persons/groups with various cultural backgrounds including age and gender. Multicultural education provides empowerment to children who are members of oppressed racial groups, lower class, and female. Multicultural Education grew out of the civil rights movements in the 1960s. While protest movements are not as visible today, many issues of inequity within the public school system still exist and have continued to affect communities of color for generations. Cultural competency, while not being a requirement for teachers, would enhance teacher’s abilities to educate and subsequently further equity in public education. Specifically in the classroom, a teacher can better accommodate student’s needs when he or she is familiar with their cultural and familial backgrounds. Again, during the “Youth Voices Front and Center” interviews students made it very clear that this would enhance their learning experience. For instance, one male student stated, “give examples, put in everyday living…connect times tables to a paycheck or paying the rent.” And thus, our final recommendation, for professional development and supports, is that multicultural education strategies be incorporated into the DC government’s plans for effective instruction practices.

As a representative of various stakeholders in the education system, this month DC VOICE has submitted a resolution to the State Board of Education requesting that they develop, fund, and publish a comprehensive professional development plan for all schools that is driven by academic performance and local school needs. We and other community stakeholders would like to know exactly how schools receive supports that will directly increase quality teaching. By adopting DC VOICE’s “Resolution Supporting the Amendment to DC Municipal Regulations”, the State Department of Education would be: upholding the state accountability plan for the District of Columbia developed by the Chief State School Officer, supporting goals to increase achievement among students and, most importantly, responding to the voice of the people.

Demand Reform. Demand Equity



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