On our show on Thursday May 9, we had a wide-ranging discussion about the role of advisory neighborhood commissions (ANCs) in our publicly funded schools, including in school openings, closings, and resourcing. ANCs represent the most local level of elected government in the District of Columbia, with each ANC commissioner elected to represent about 2,000 people, all on a voluntary basis.
For our show, we were joined by the following ANC commissioners from wards 4, 6, 7 & 8:
Sheila Carson Carr, ANC commissioner for Ward 7F and DCPS mom (and grandmother) and community activist
Darrell Gaston, ANC commissioner for Ward 8B, in his 4th term and is a Ward 8 native and resident who has been active in advocating for DCPS’s Stanton, Turner, and Moten elementaries
Sondra Phillips-Gilbert, ANC commissioner for Ward 6A and DC social services representative and community activist
Evan Yeats, ANC commissioner for Ward 4B and DCPS parent and co-plaintiff on the lawsuit to ensure the mayor followed the law regarding the chancellor selection panel
The first three guests above were in studio, with Evan Yeats joining us by phone.
We discussed how city leaders are to give “great weight” to the decisions and deliberations of ANCs, including on the creation and location of new schools—and how in practice this works (and how it doesn’t). Commissioners discussed how they have advocated against the opening of charter schools, only to have them open anyway, and discussed how the process of releasing public properties from public use often is not transparent, doesn’t involve communities, and leaves communities without long-term plans for those spaces.
In addition, we discussed how ANCs advocate for additional resources for their schools, including connecting schools to actual community resources outside the schools and utilizing the “connected school model.” Commissioners also discussed how school budgeting affects their neighborhood schools, noting that having the same level of funding around the city for focused help in our schools (say, for example, for special education) often doesn’t mean equitable funding, and that having an at risk committee at each school could help alleviate inequities with those funds.
— Valerie Jablow
The Education Town Hall with Thomas Byrd
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