– The “looming challenge” for the D.C. public school system, according to the Post, is the high rate of attrition among students entering middle schools. A significant number of families pull their children out of the traditional school system to avoid sending their kids to DCPS middle schools, which are perceived to be substandard (WaPo, 2/18):
After the 2011-12 school year, 11 percent of the system’s fourth-graders did not continue on to fifth grade in a traditional D.C. public school, according to city data. From fifth grade to sixth grade — the city’s usual transition point from elementary to middle school — the system’s enrollment that same year plummeted by 24 percent.
Often, those leaving D.C. schools are those with the most educated and engaged parents, who worry that the city’s middle schools won’t prepare their children for the rigors of high school and beyond. They cite poor academic results, concerns about safety, discipline and culture, and a lack of course variety and extracurricular activities that students need to stay engaged and to prepare for high school.
– Greater Greater Education asks: More and more DC students are taking AP classes, but what are they getting from the experience? (GGE, 2/14)
– In a New York Times op-ed, two foundation leaders, including Kenneth Zimmerman of the Open Society Foundations, highlight positive changes in school discipline policies that have reduced the number of suspensions in California and Maryland schools (NY Times, 2/16):
Ultimately, full-scale change requires giving teachers the tools and resources to effectively manage their classrooms. It also means ensuring that students are not victims of the kind of stereotyping or racial bias that results in unfair punishments. As a nation, we need to embrace the reforms, both large and small, that keep students in school learning rather than out of school misbehaving.
DAILY | Today we’re announcing some changes to the Daily WRAG.
– The New York Times has a cool tool to measure how many more hours you would need to work (or debt you would need to take on) to get by on minimum wage in your state. (NY Times, 2/8)
– Intellectually disabled struggling to find work (WaPo, 2/17)
HEALTH CARE | Va. Senate panel proposes alternative to Medicaid expansion (WaPo, 2/17)
ENVIRONMENT | There’s a 443-foot long machine digging a 13-mile long tunnel beneath D.C. that will one day help deal with the wastewater that today runs into the Anacostia, Potomac, and Rock Creek. (WaPo, 2/15)
Here are some cool photos from the first 12 winter Olympics. The outfits were definitely different. The ski jump was just as terrifying.
And, hat tip to Philanthropy Fellow Sara Gallagher, who passed along this video – what a conference call would be like in real life.