Our November 14, 2019 featured a discussion of issues in Ward 8 schools with the DC council member for the ward, Trayon White, along with Anacostia high school social worker Nathan Luecking and DCPS community engagement officer and Ward 8 parent Sharona Robinson.
DC’s eastern- and southernmost ward, Ward 8 has the most children in the city–and some of its poorest residents. The discussion featured some of the most pressing issues in Ward 8 schools, including basic funding (many had severe budget cuts this year alone, on top of decades of inequitable funding in both budgets and modernizations) as well as public safety issues.
Guests agreed that more resources are needed, but they also have to be targeted and aligned better, so that it is not just the available students who benefit, but all students in need. Guests also noted that the lack of a systemic, sustained approach to school support—community schools; wrap-around services; parent resource centers—has harmed the ward’s provision of public education, as it prevents policies and approaches from bearing fruit.
The ward also lacks a trauma center and hospital, which puts pressure on schools to function in that place—or to have students travel far (sometimes with school staff) to get the services they need.
Recognizing the depth of those needs, schools in Ward 8 do provide a number of peer-to-peer services, including a step-up program at Anacostia high school for middle school students; the Reach program, where Anacostia students tutor younger peers; and Access Youth, a peer-to-peer deescalation program in the ward’s two high schools. — V. Jablow
A native Washingtonian, Trayon White Sr. graduated from Ballou high school and the University of Maryland. He has served as the Ward 8 member of the DC state board of education and in a variety of city organizations dedicated to helping the city’s kids.
Nathan Luecking is a licensed clinician working with youth in Washington, DC and has served on the mayor’s task force on school mental health.
Sharona Robinson is a long-time resident of Ward 8. A graduate of Ballou High School, Robinson is a DCPS parent as well as one of the community action team leaders at DCPS, working among school communities in Ward 8.