Educator members of the Washington Teachers’ Union caucus DC-CORE (DC-Caucus Of Rank-and-file Educators) will testify before the DC-Council’s Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, October 26, beginning at 11:00 a.m. in support of proposed legislation (Bills 24-80 and 24-101) to make the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) an independent agency under the DC State Board of Education and to end the Mayor’s exclusive control over the running of DC Public Schools.
The hearing will occur virtually via Zoom videoconference at a time when teachers will be teaching in person at their schools.
DC Public School Elementary teacher Alice McNeill said, “This bill is the first step in creating a system of schools with actual oversight, accountability and true checks and balances. Our current paradigm, placing public schools under the control of the Office of the Mayor, is not working.”
“The Mayor has the power to implement many policies and initiatives that could positively impact the lives of our students in all eight wards, but micromanaging the school system through a bloated and heavily bureaucratic Central Office run by non-teachers is instead having negative impacts on our students,” said Middle School teacher Andrew Schick, whose teaching duties prevent him from testifying on Tuesday. “In addition, we have a Chancellor who clearly has no idea what the realities of in-person school are and who negotiates agreements with the WTU in pursuit of the political aims of the mayor, not in the interests of students. This must change, and this legislation is a step in the right direction.”
DCPS High School teacher Laura Fuchs will testify on Tuesday that “It is not enough to elect a mayor once every four years. And it is not enough to have an advisory cabinet where a small number of teachers and parents, picked by DCPS, give their opinions on a very wide range of topics behind closed doors. We need to increase systemic checks and balances, and a good first step is to make OSSE independent from the mayor and place them under the DC State Board of Education to provide policy direction and oversight.”
DC-CORE is a caucus within the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) and includes WTU members who seek to promote organizing and member activism in pursuit of securing the rights and meeting the needs of both DCPS educators and students.
Most recently, DC-CORE introduced a resolution to the WTU Representative Assembly on October 12 calling for a vote of “no confidence” in District leaders’ handling of school reopening and COVID safety protocols. The resolution, which also calls on the DC Council to support the proposed legislation to make OSSE an independent agency under the DC State Board of Education, passed by a large majority.
Previously, DC-CORE members testified before DC Council at a September 21 hearing regarding the inadequacy of safety protocols for in-person learning, and held a rally at Watkins Elementary School.