Letter to Mayor Muriel E. Bowser
The Office of the Mayor
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004
Dear Mayor Bowser:
Thank you for continuing to prioritize public education in the budget. Your proposed investments: 5.9% increase to the base of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) for all schools, $36 million in stabilization funding for D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter schools, a salary increase for substitute teachers, and an updated budget model for DCPS with initial budgets for individual schools – will not only help schools bridge the gap in learning but strive for new heights in public education and supports for all students.
For the past two years, our students have been through extraordinary circumstances which have caused unfinished learning and diminished well-being. As we look to recover from the effects of the pandemic, even more should be done to continue the progress we’ve seen in public education for the past 15 years. Therefore, we respectfully urge you to ensure funding equity, provide educator support, expand access to high education, and invest in behavioral health supports for all students. Our FY2023 budget priorities are the following:
PROVIDE EQUITABLE RESOURCES TO ALL SCHOOLS.
- Raise the at-risk weight of the UPSFF to .37 or higher as recommended by the 2014 adequacy study to provide more significant support to students designated as ‘at risk’—those who qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, are experiencing homelessness, are in the District’s foster care program or are one year or more older than expected for their grade in high school.
- Increase the public charter school facilities allotment by 3.1% beginning in FY 2023. The District government must ensure that all students have safe and educationally appropriate buildings.
- Conduct an adequacy study every five years to ensure the UPSFF increases adequately for all students.
ENSURE ALL STUDENTS HAVE ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION THAT IS HIGH-QUALITY AND AFFORDABLE.
- Study, expand, deepen, and reform our current dual enrollment opportunities to, at a minimum: expand access to all interested students, particularly students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, and students with disabilities; make the application process more efficient; and ensure students receive maximum dual enrollment credit hours for both high school and college classes.
INVEST IN SAFE, STABLE, AND POSITIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS FOR ALL STUDENTS.
- Build on past years’ investments in the School-Based Behavioral Health (SBBH) program by investing in the following:
- $300,000 for a cost study to determine what it truly costs to implement the SBBH program now and in the future;
- $2.4 million to stabilize community-based organization grant funding each year; and
- Adequately funding the Community of Practice, building a workforce pipeline, and expanding information-sharing and family engagement efforts.
- Maintain the current investment of $920,000 for SY 2020-21 for restorative justice; provide school-wide technical assistance and individual capacity building in DC schools.
ENSURE ALL EDUCATORS RECEIVE HIGH-QUALITY TEACHER PREPARATION AND SUPPORT.
- Provide sufficient funding so that all PreK-5 DC leaders and teachers can receive free and accessible structured literacy training with incentives in three years. In 2019, 70% of DC students were not proficient in reading in fourth grade, according to NAEP. The District must ensure all students read at grade level by third grade regardless of where in the city they live, what school they attend, and their ability or language-learning status. They should be confident in their independent reading abilities and enjoy reading.
- Support educators with housing by creating housing and tax incentives, implementing housing affordability programs, and ensuring eligible educators are connected with the existing programs that can reduce the cost of homeownership.
Thank you for all you do for our students and families! We look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure we have a just and equitable public education system for all students.
Education Reform Now DC