Changing School Boundaries in DC: Process, Goal, and History

“My big message,” Abigail Smith, DC’s Deputy Mayor for Education, told listeners, is “please, PLEASE take advantage of the various ways to engage” in the process for re-drawing school assignment boundaries.

The Education Town Hall, November 14, 2013

Smith is in charge of the city’s first major adjustment of school boundaries and feeder patterns since 1968. But there are a number of hurdles to wide participation, she acknowledged. Because of previous failures of engagement efforts, by the DME and other arms of the District government, “community members feel like they’ve been burned…this is very real, and it’s a long history.”

The trust and participation issues came up in the effort’s first advisory meeting, Smith noted, adding: “This is an issue…that comes up weekly for me” in discussions with citizens.

Moreover, Smith said, the work cannot progress without addressing the large and complex issues of race and class. These issues “are central to this process. We hope we can have this conversation in a direct way.”

November 14 and Beyond

The Deputy Mayor shared the projected timeline and the process, including opportunities for citizen participation. Smith also discussed some of the many issues involved, including “grandfathering” for students already invested in one school, and addressed comments from community representatives.

Joining the on-air discussion with Smith are Faith Hubbard, Ward 5 Education Council; Peter MacPherson of the Capitol Hill Public School Parents Organization (Ward 6); Eboni-Rose Thompson, Ward 7 Education Council; and Sharona Robinson, Ward 8 Education Council.

The November 14 program was the first Education Town Hall since the DME officially announced the boundary process was underway. The Education Town Hall has been preparing the way, however. See “We Need this Dialogue” and other segments in the category “Race and Education.”

The Education Town Hall welcomes comments — here on this blog and on-air — and suggestions for continuing dialogue as the process goes forward.

Some Background

Here is background information about how the DME plans to involve the community.

Here is Ms. Smith’s bio. Follow Education Town Hall tags for more on Faith Hubbard, Peter MacPherson, Sharona Robinson, and Eboni-Rose Thompson.


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