Current and Former DCPS Students Join DC Council Chair to Talk Education

Three current and former DCPS students joined the Education Town Hall on August 9, and two remained in conversation with DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson regarding education issues.
Listen here —

August 9
V. Jablow, DaVon Fuller, Phil Mendelson, T. Byrd

Student Perspectives

On the first half of the show, current and former DCPS students — DaVon Fuller, Tallya Rhodes, and Tatiana Robinson (brief bios here) — discussed excellent parts of their public education in DC as well as some communication and governance issues and characteristics they’d like to see in a new chancellor.

In terms of excellence, they cited: many programs currently unrecognized in DCPS that help students with employment; strong student athlete and scholar connections; and efforts by school officials to ensure better attendance through changing schedules. They also saw a general lack of student voices in school governance, and discussed the effect of policies on attendance that were neither well communicated nor enforced.

Finally, the young people voiced ideas of what a new chancellor should do, including: not make hasty decisions; visit as many schools as possible, preferably at least twice a year each; and allow feedback from parents and students to drive the conversation about schools. They also noted that the new chancellor needs to stop looking at kids as numbers and see them as the complex and diverse people they are.

Council Chair Phil Mendelson

The second half of the show was a conversation, including DaVon Fuller and Tatiana Rhodes, with Phil Mendelson, chair of the city council and who is candidate for re-election.

Valerie Jablow asked the chairman what the Council will do about the fact that the current DCPS chancellor selection panel is not following the law in terms of its composition, with only a smattering of parents, teachers and students. Mendelson noted that Education Committee Chair David Grosso is holding roundtables across the city and that the mayor herself might want to think about the effect of appointing a chancellor who is selected by people who are not involved in DCPS. Mendelson also noted that there are legal issues with the chancellor selection panel, because the law (PERAA, putting mayoral control over DCPS) doesn’t outline clear authority for various education agencies.

Finally, the Council fielded questions about oversight by the council, noting that “to improve [school] quality, we don’t need to pass laws. We need to improve quality.”

The Education Town Hall with Thomas Byrd
broadcasts from Historic Anacostia
in Washington, DC, on We Act Radio,
Thursdays at 11:00 a.m. Eastern
New programming 2nd and 4th Thursdays, alternating with classic shows.
Listen live via TuneIn.
Shows are archived for convenient listening shortly after broadcast.

After years of weekly broadcasts, the program now focuses one show each month on local issues and one on “the BUS,” organized by BadAss Teachers, United Opt Out, and SOS March.

Student, Recent Grads

To discuss their public school experiences in DC — what worked, what didn’t, what they would do differently, and what they would like the adults in charge to do:

DaVon Fuller is a DC native and student-athlete graduated from Dunbar HS and just graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, with a BA in sociology and a minor in political science.

Tallya Rhode, Woodson HS ’18, is a former State Board of Education Student Representative and headed for Concord University, where she plans to study athletic training.

Tatiana Robinson is class president and a rising senior at Ballou HS and a State Board of Education Student Representative. She will be calling in from Cambridge, MA, where she is attending classes at Harvard, through the OSSE Scholars program, and will discuss various enrichment opportunities from which she has benefited.

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