Education in the Districts saw many changes over the course of 2012. In addition to the controversy surrounding Superintendent Kaya Henderson's administration and the retrenchment of District of Columbia Public Schools which had parents up in arms following several waves of school closings; the newspaper also documented the massive remodeling of several schools, and the merging of others as a direct result the influx of new residents, and a transition of many students into charter and private schools.
A Bill to Reinstate School Vouchers in the District – recently passed in the House of Representatives. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who helped craft the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR) seven years ago to provide better educational choices for the nation's students, lead a House vote of 225 to 195 that was cast largely along party lines. As a result, the local initiative tagged the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program – in accordance with President Barack Obama's 2012 budget – is now earmarked to receive $20 million in federal funding that will enable low-income and other needy students in the city to attend private and charter schools.
Four-Year Graduation Rates Released – by the District's Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) show that 80 percent of public charter high school students from the class of 2011 graduated on time. This percentage is in close alignment with the graduation rates of neighboring, affluent suburbs such as Fairfax and Montgomery County public schools.
Under the Tutelage of their Professor Bernard Demczuk the students at School Without Walls developed a project called The Spirit of Black D.C. This is a one-stop, student driven research and interactive media website designed to put a mélange of the city's history at people's fingertips.
School's Back in Session – All around the District and in cities around the region, legions of children trooped back to school for the first day of the 2012-13 school year. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, Council members Tommy Wells, Michael Brown and Nathan Saunders of the Washington Teachers' Union were among elected officials, parents, and members of civic and social organizations at schools welcoming students back.
Future of UDC-CC at Center of Special Council Hearing – Twenty-three-year-old Cornell Parks always dreamed of attending college. He longed to study information technology. The Southeast resident couldn't afford to enroll in a four-year school, so the University of the District of Columbia's Community College [UDC-CC] proved a logical choice. But just as Parks settled into his first year of studies, he learned that his school's flagship institution, the University of the District of Columbia [UDC] plans to relocate the P.R. Harris Educational Center he attends in Southeast and the community college's two other locations – the former Bertie Backus Elementary School and the 801 North Capitol St. building in Northeast – to the UDC campus, miles across the city, in Northwest.
Community Rallies against More School Closings – Recommendations outlined in a study titled, "Quality Schools: Every Child, Every School, Every Neighborhood," and which call for the closing of more than three dozen District of Columbia Public Schools [DCPS], have received negative responses from parents, community and organization leaders who insist any proposed closings warrant special consideration.
The recommendations – which were offered by the Chicago-based Illinois Facility Fund [IFF] – suggest closing several low-performing schools located in the poorest wards in the District, and designating others as high-performing publicly-funded charter facilities.
New Design for Ballou Senior High School Unveiled – When it comes to providing state-of-the-art learning environments for students, officials in the District of Columbia have been on a steady roll. Over the past few years, several of the city's 136 public schools have undergone facelifts to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. And, on Friday, Sept. 28, District officials revealed yet another plan for renovation with the unveiling of the design for the new Frank W. Ballou Senior High School in Southeast.
Cardozo Students Build House from the Ground Up – Years from now, some of the students currently enrolled in the Academy of Construction and Design (ACAD) at Cardozo High School in Northwest, will be able to cruise by their old stomping ground, and point to a house that they actually built from the ground up. For the first time in the history of the District, a single-family dwelling, conceived and designed by students has been erected in the Brightwood community at 5734 13thSt. – a stone's throw away from Cardozo. For most of the one dozen students who participated, it took years of classroom assignments, working with licensed instructors and industry professionals to complete the contemporary three-story building. But when the ribbon was cut Dec. 6, they beamed with pride as the community walked through the house that the students built.
Savoy Elementary Students Put the Thrill in 'Thriller' – Move over, all of you high-stepping, flashy and rap-influenced dancers. When it comes to cutting a smooth groove, a group of students from Savoy Elementary School in Southeast can probably teach a lesson or two. Although the 105 students who participated are too young to have related to the musical genius of the late Michael Jackson, they were recently the talk of the town, after rendering a live jam performance of the King of Pop's masterpiece "Thriller" that took the nation by storm 30 years ago.