ERN DC Commend D.C. Council for Additional Investments in Public Education

News & Press

ERN DC Commend D.C. Council for Additional Investments in Public Education

CONTACT: Cesar Toledo 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 17, 2023) – Today, Education Reform Now D.C. Executive Director Jessica Giles released the following statement after the first D.C. Council vote on the fiscal year 2024 budget:

“ERN D.C. mobilized hundreds of education advocates across the District to urge the D.C. Council to meet the urgent needs of our Black and Brown students and their educators,” said Jessica Giles. “The D.C. Council listened and took action. Thanks to Chairman Mendelson’s leadership and support for public education, this budget moves the District closer to equitable funding for schools via an increase to the at-risk concentration weights and an additional $15 million for public charter school salary increases with new funding flexibility proposed by Deputy Mayor Paul Kihn and Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant.”  

Giles continued, “Another new, positive investment is $1.2 million to create a pipeline of behavioral health specialists by funding a Master of Social Work degree program at the University of the District of Columbia.”

“As the next vote approaches, we look forward to continuing to work with the D.C. Council to ensure our Black and Brown students have a just and equitable education regardless of where they live or attend public school,” Giles said.

The next vote on the Local Budget Act of 2023 is May 30, and a vote on the Budget Support Act of 2023 is expected in June.

May 10 Rally Media Advisory

News & Press


Wednesday: DC Alliance & ERN DC to Hold ‘Stop the Shortchange Rally’ at Wilson Building

Washington, D.C. – This Wednesday, May 10 at 8:30am during Teacher Appreciation Week and National Charter Schools Week, the DC Charter School Alliance and Education Reform Now D.C. will hold a rally on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building in support of public charter educators and schools and urging DC Council not to shortchange public charter school students, and their educators by $187 million. They will be joined by D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, school leaders, educators, parents, advocates, and other elected officials.  


What: The D.C. Council’s first major vote on the budget is on May 16 and currently, public charter schools are set to receive $187 million less than DC Public Schools. Ahead of the May 16 vote, education advocates are calling for:

  • Ensuring FY2024 and future budgets require public school funding and educator compensation raises to be allocated through the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula so that all public schools and educators receive increases.
  • Allowing charters to provide pay increases to the same categories of staff covered by the WTU agreement (including teacher, instructional coach, counselor, social worker, psychologist, speech/language pathologist, and attendance officer).
  • Committing to making public charter school budgets whole overtime.
Who: Rally Organizers: DC Charter School Alliance & Education Reform Now D.C.
Speakers: D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, D.C. State Board Member Jacque Patterson, and other to be announced speakers. Advocates: Public school leaders, educators, and parents.
When: Wednesday, May 10th at 8:30am
Where:   John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW 
RSVP: Media is asked to RSVP with Cesar Toledo, 


DC Charter School Alliance
The DC Charter School Alliance is the District of Columbia’s premier advocacy organization dedicated to supporting and representing the robust charter school sector in our nation’s capital. With the support of the DC Charter School Alliance, the charter school community can ensure that all students in DC receive the great public education they deserve and ensure the continued strength of the DC charter sector.

Education Reform Now D.C.
ERN DC is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank and advocacy organization fighting for a just and equitable public education system for all students in Washington, D.C. We seek progress in DC Public Schools and public charter schools by developing and advocating for systemic change to eliminate racial inequity and discrimination in DC public schools.

Testimony for April DC State Board of Education Public Meeting


April 26, 2023

Public Meeting

Jessica Giles
Executive Director
Education Reform Now D.C.

Greetings Executive Director Butler, Representatives, Student Representatives, and D.C. State Board of Education (SBOE) staff. My name is Jessica Giles. I am a ward seven resident and the Executive Director of Education Reform Now D.C. (ERN DC). ERN D.C. is a non-profit organization fighting for a just and equitable public education system for all students in Washington, D.C. 

Thank you to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and SBOE for holding many opportunities for the public to engage in the revision of the Social Studies Standards. In February, ERN DC submitted public comment to the OSSE and public testimony to the SBOE recommending essential changes that are needed to the Social Studies Standards. Several of our recommendations were accepted, including providing more clarity on how teachers implement the Social Studies standards in practice, diversifying the list of feminist scholars and thought leaders, and addressing the role that enslaving Black people played in the development of the District’s institutions. We hope OSSE and SBOE move swiftly to approve these standards. 

Additionally, I would like the State Board and the State Level and Systemic Policy Committee, in particular, to focus on two additional vital topics this year.


The Need: 51 percent of students enroll in a two or four-year college. However, only 8 out of 100 9th-grade students will complete a postsecondary degree within six  years of high school graduation. 58 percent of D.C.’s job market requires a postsecondary degree, yet only 26 percent of D.C. residents aged 18 to 34 who were born here have a postsecondary degree, compared to 70 percent of those who moved here. Dual enrollment has a significant effect on 2-year and 4-year college enrollment, degree attainment, and early labor market earnings six years after high school, with stronger effects for students who are traditionally underrepresented. 

About Dual Enrollment: An estimated 10% of the student population uses dual enrollment opportunities. It needs to be clarified what percentage of students receive college credit. Bard High School Early College provides 377 students with an opportunity to graduate high school with an associate’s degree. In the fall of 2022, the Mayor’s office launched the Advanced Technical Center, which offers nearly 100 students the opportunity to take up to 20 college courses free of charge in cybersecurity, general nursing, and health information technology over a two-year period. In addition, over 450 students are taking dual enrollment courses at local Institutions of Higher Education (IHE). Many of these students have to take the course virtually or attend the course in person at the IHEs, which is time-consuming. Please note: the location of some LEAs and bus schedules can make it quite impossible for some students to participate meaningfully in in-person dual enrollment courses. Additionally, the difficulties that students face enduring long commutes to and from their classes create significant barriers to access, especially for students with the least financial means who are also least likely to attend school near colleges or universities that offer in-person dual enrollment. Further, three charter LEAs and 9 D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) schools do not offer any dual enrollment opportunities at all. 

In March 2022, the Deputy Mayor for Education partnered with the College in High School Alliance to develop a District of Columbia Dual Enrollment Needs Assessment Action Plan. Recommendations from this action plan are listed below:

  • Engage in a Process to Understand DC Student & Parent Perspectives on Dual Enrollment
  • Develop a Comprehensive Dual Enrollment Ecosystem Map for DC
  • Continue to Build DC Dual Enrollment Data Availability & Tools For Use
  • Formalize and Expand OSSE’s Dual Enrollment Community of Practice
  • Consider Alternative Program Models and State Funding Mechanisms for Dual Enrollment
  • Expand Dual Enrollment Course Options and Dual Crediting of Class Experiences
  • Provide Tools and Resources to School Counselors & Other Dual Enrollment Practitioners
  • Develop a Student, Parent, and Caregiver Friendly Web Portal for DC Dual Enrollment

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education deserves some credit for progress made on understanding student and parent perspectives regarding dual enrollment and increasing the number of seats offered, but the Mayor’s proposed FY2024 budget includes no additional investments in dual enrollment opportunities and we are already behind on the timeline for completing the recommendations. 

Furthermore, there are two important issues I would like the Committee to pay special attention to:

  • The need for expanding in-person cohort-based dual enrollment courses in the District. A successful example includes the Bard Sequence, which is currently offered at Idea Public Charter School and Thurgood Marshall Public Charter School.
  • Students must have more opportunities to receive high school credit for their college courses. DC is an outlier in this regard, and it is incredibly inefficient. 


The Need: Currently, D.C. does not require students to learn personal financial literacy skills, and too few schools offer it. Financial literacy concepts such as earning income, spending, saving, investing, managing credit, and managing risk are all information that D.C’s students must learn to succeed in school, life, and career.

Additionally, students need to learn how to become an entrepreneur, better understand career paths, and labor market opportunities during the “income” segment. 

The Colorado Department of Education summarizes personal financial literacy as the following “[it] applies the economic way of thinking to help individuals understand how to manage their scarce resources using a logical decision-making process of prioritization based on analysis of the costs and benefits of every choice.” Currently, ten states offer financial literacy as a part of the social studies standards. While OSSE is not revising the social studies standards to include additional financial literacy standards, OSSE should develop and adopt standalone financial literacy standards as soon as possible. We urge OSSE and SBOE to prioritize these two issues this year. 

Thank you for allowing me to testify today.

ERN Testifies in Support of Behavioral Health Services and Dual Enrollment


April 14, 2023

DC Council, Committee of the Whole
Budget Oversight Hearing

Joshua Davis
Student Civic Leader
Bard High School Early College DC

Good afternoon Chairman Mendelson and members of the Committee of the Whole. My name is Joshua Davis, and I am a senior at Bard High School Early College DC and a civic leader for Education Reform Now DC. Today, I am here to speak about two critical issues pertinent to this year’s budget: school based behavior health and dual enrollment.

Firstly, I want to commend Bard for its commitment to students’ mental health. During my freshman year, I struggled with anxiety that stemmed from the pressure to succeed academically. This anxiety negatively impacted my grades and overall well-being. Thankfully, Bard’s resources, including counseling sessions with a school-based mental health professional, allowed me to access the support I needed to overcome that anxiety. This experience has empowered me to speak before you today.

You all have been witness to the countless stories recounted by my peers and other advocates regarding the mental health challenges students face. The connection between trauma and the cycles of violence in DC is clear, and mental health services are a key component for addressing these issues. To ensure that all students have the support they need today, we must start by increasing funding for school-based behavioral health services to $3.45M in the FY24 budget. This will ensure that schools can provide at least one clinician in every public school to support all of my peers.

Additionally, DC must create opportunities for students to earn a degree in fields such as psychology, social work, or human services. It’s time we create a local pipeline of future social workers, counselors, and psychologists by creating a Master of Social Work program at UDC and providing scholarships to make the MSW and Master of Counseling programs free for DC residents and those who work in DC. I urge the committee to hold a hearing on the  “Pathways to Behavioral Health Degrees Act of 2023.”

Secondly, I want to touch on dual enrollment. It is concerning that only 8 out of 100 students in DC will go on to complete postsecondary education within six years after high school.[1] Research shows that students participating in dual enrollment programs are more likely to enroll in and complete college.[2] Bard has been around since 2018 and partners with several local colleges and universities, including George Washington University and Georgetown University, to allow credits to transfer in various subjects. I will graduate with an associates degree. As a dual enrollment program participant, I have gained invaluable experience and confidence in my ability to succeed in higher education. We have the data, the stories, and the resources, there is no reason why every student in DC should not have that same opportunity.

In conclusion, I want to emphasize the importance of mental health and dual enrollment and how Bard High School has been leading in addressing these issues. I strongly urge the DC Council to increase funding to ensure every school has one clinician and for the Committee of the Whole to hold a hearing on B25-0055, “Pathways to Behavioral Health Degrees Act of 2023.”  Thank you for your time and attention.