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Joe Weedon (Ward 6): Realigning boundaries to create strong, stable feeder patterns is a necessary step to improve our neighborhood schools and, generally, yes, I support the proposals to realign DCPS boundaries in Ward 6.
While I support the proposed realignment and assignment policies, I have concerns about moving Tyler ES to the Jefferson Academy MS feeder pattern and believe that we must develop a more robust plan to ensure schools do not become overcrowded as a result of the realignment and expansion of early education programming. I also believe that the Ward 6 community needs to be provided specifics, including time frames for implementation of new initiatives, from the Chancellor about the steps that DCPS will take to improve the quality of education in all schools across the ward and the city.
MW: The District has been criticized for relying heavily on high-stakes testing to determine proficiency in various subjects. Do you see this criticism as valid or legitimate?
Weedon: There is an overemphasis on testing to evaluate schools in the District of Columbia, and I do not believe that our city school systems are effectively utilizing the data that we gather from the tests to target interventions to individual students in need.
I am a strong supporter of the Common Core and the move to the PARCC assessment. However, our schools need to do more to ensure our students are prepared for these tests. We need to utilize data to effectively target interventions for students who are behind in reading and math, and we must invest in computer/typing instruction to ensure that students are prepared to take the new on-line assessments.
MW: What do you think needs to be further done to reduce truancy and increase D.C.’s low high school graduation rate?
Weedon: The key to reducing truancy and improving graduation rates is early intervention. Research highlights that the key predictors of truancy and dropouts can be identified in middle school and earlier. As a city, we need to invest in interventions to ensure that our middle school students are attending school regularly and that they are proficient in reading and math in order to succeed in school and move toward graduation.
At the high school level, we must do more to support students who have fallen behind to encourage them to remain in school. We must ensure that the education our students receive is rewarding and relevant to their experiences. We need to invest more in internship and job placement programs to help prepare students for college and the workplace.
MW: What can the DC State Board of Education do, if anything, to enforce anti-bullying laws related to LGBT students and families and reduce truancy among that specific sub-group?
Weedon: The District’s Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 requires all schools, libraries and other organizations that serve children and teens to adopt and implement bullying prevention programs. Unfortunately, approximately 30% of our city’s charter schools have failed to meet the requirements of the law. The State Board of Education has an obligation to ensure that all our city’s school systems meet the requirements of the law and have robust and effective anti-bullying policies and programs in place. The State Board of Education also serves as an advocate for families and must work with individual families to ensure that they receive the support they need when confronted with bullying. Ultimately, students who are engaged and welcomed at school are more likely to succeed.
MW: Why should the LGBT community vote for you?
Weedon: For a decade, I have led education reform in Ward 6, bringing together communities and advocating for strong schools throughout our community. I strongly believe that, together, we can create well-rounded schools in every corner of Ward 6, and the city, that will serve the needs of our students, preparing them for success in college and the workplace.
For more information on Joe Weedon’s campaign, visit joeweedonstateboardofed.com.
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