ERN DC Testimony on the Mayor’s FY 2024 Budget Proposal
April 5, 2023
Education Reform Now D.C.
Committee of the Whole Budget Oversight Hearing:
● District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS)
● Office of the State Superintendent of Education
● Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education
● District of Columbia Public Charter School Board
● D.C. State Board of Education
● Office of the Student Advocate
● Ombudsman for Education
Good morning Chairman Mendelson, members and staff of the Committee of the Whole. My name is Jessica Giles. I am a ward seven resident and the Executive Director of Education Reform Now D.C. (ERN D.C.). ERN D.C. is a non-profit organization fighting for a just and equitable public education system for all students in Washington, D.C.
The Mayor’s FY 2024 proposed budget prioritizes public education, making it the second largest investment in local operating funds to a tune of nearly $4 billion. There are several investments that we urge the D.C. Council to maintain:
● 5.05% increase to the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) allows for a foundation level of $13,046 per student.
● 3.1% multi-year facilities allotment increase to provide charter schools with educationally appropriate buildings.
● $8M to sustain a multi-year investment in high-impact tutoring, an intervention that can produce dramatic gains in student learning.
● $9M for the Safe Passage Safe Blocks program. With gun violence at an all-time high, it is essential for the District to invest in strategies that will keep our school communities safe.
● A continued investment in restorative justice to allow for restoration, healing, and prevention when harm is caused.
● $17 million investments in Out of School (OST) Time programming to provide fun, safe, and enriching programs for our students, along with $5 million for My After School, $2.5 million for students with disabilities to more fully participate in OST, and $3.4 million for summer activities.
● $1.6M one-time funding to launch DC’s Education to Employment data project to help the District better understand how education programming sets DC students up for career success and ensures continuous career improvement.
Additionally, we would like to highlight three areas of concern:
I. Public charter schools will receive $187 million less than DCPS
DCPS and public charter schools must receive equal funding to provide all of our students with excellent services and support and attract and retain highly effective and diverse educators and school staff. However:
a. $39 million in proposed funding is directed to support DCPS outside of the per funding formula (ex. DCPS stabilization funding, Early Stages funding, and IMPACT bonuses). According to a recent poll, D.C. voters overwhelmingly support (71%) D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter schools receiving equal funding to support their students. See our press release and poll here.
b. $207 million will go to the Washington Teachers Union for their teachers, social workers, therapists, coaches, and other school personnel compared to the $59 million for the public charter school sector for teachers only. 431 (and counting) D.C. residents signed our petition urging the Mayor and DC Council to provide an equivalent payment to public charter school educators for retropay and forward pay and for future salary increases to be sent to all public schools through the per-student funding formula.
When DCPS and the public charter sector are funded unequally, it sends a troubling message that our DCPS students matter more than our charter students. This funding
inequity is wrong, and the DC Council must make this right, including by ensuring payments are flexible and granted quickly and that future salary increases across both sectors are
reflected in the UPSFF.
II. No increase in investment in structured literacy training
Students have a right to read and we must set the expectation that all students will learn to read well and on grade level regardless of where in the city they live, what school they attend, and their ability or language-learning status. The reality, however, is that the percentage of students in the District of Columbia who performed at or above the NAEP Proficient level was only 26 percent in 2022. This percentage was smaller than that in 2019 (30 percent) and was greater than that in 1998 (10 percent) . Black and Hispanic students are 69 and 60 points lower than white students, respectively. The percentage of students in District of Columbia who performed at or above the NAEP Proficient level was 22 percent in 2022. This percentage was not significantly different from that in 2019 (23 percent) and was greater than that in 1998 (11 percent).
We know the science of reading can help make a significant difference in the lives of our students. Currently, OSSE is slated to spend nearly $20M in federal funding on literacy investments between fiscal year 2022-2024. The Mayor allocated $1 million to provide 530 teachers in DCPS and public charter schools with structured literacy training for an additional 1,500 spots. While we appreciate the investment, there are two concerns:
a. If we continue to go at this incredibly slow pace, it will take several years for the District to ensure all elementary school educators receive this critical training. We urge the Committee of the Whole to ask OSSE when does it expect all elementary school teachers will receive structured literacy training?
b. Literacy innovation is funded solely by federal dollars. What happens when this funding is no longer available?
We encourage the D.C. Council to set aside funds to ensure that the District’s commitment to providing all educators with structured literacy training does not falter.
III. No increase in investment in dual enrollment
Every student must graduate from high school and receives a high-quality, affordable college education or the work-based experience and credentials necessary to immediately earn a livable wage. The reality is 51% of students enroll into a two or four-year college. 35% of students with disabilities, 33% of ELL, 35% of students designated as At-Risk. 910 8 out of 100 9th grade students in SY 2011-12 completed an associates or bachelors degree by 2022. 11 OSSE not disaggregated this information.
Dual enrollment has a significant effect on 2-year and 4-year college enrollment, degree attainment, and early labor market earnings 6 years after high school, with stronger effects for students who are traditionally underrepresented. The DC Council can help ensure students in every high school receive dual enrollment opportunities who want them by expanding the Bard Sequence in the District. The Bard Sequence allows students to earn transferable college credits across a variety of courses taught by college faculty trained in early college pedagogy at the high school. Currently, two high schools offer this to their students, and we could expand it to more school campuses. The District must guarantee families an affordable and high-quality pathway to a college degree for every student who wants one.
Thank you for allowing me to testify.Testimony