Making Public Education a Right for Every DC Student, Offering Free Community College, and Ensuring Safe and Healthy School Buildings in All 8 Wards
March 16, 2022 – Erin Palmer today announced her Plan for Public Education as a Right – a comprehensive plan to build a brighter future for all DC residents by protecting their right to public education.
“DC is the only ‘state’ in the country where our founding document does not commit our government to providing an education, and now we’re the only state legislature without a standing education committee,” said Erin, Democrat for DC Council Chairwoman. “I refuse to be satisfied with a DC Council sitting on the sidelines for children and schools. We will build an education system that works for every stage of learning because everyone has a right to education.”
The Plan tackles many of the challenges facing DC schools – making sure every student has the resources they need to succeed, empowering the DC Council to conduct oversight to ensure smart spending, and proposing bold new ideas to challenge conversations about education that continue to move in circles.
“We can build a new framework for education in DC by listening to students, families, and school workers and by giving them the support they need to succeed,” said Erin. “We can no longer be content with underfunding our schools and giving up millions of dollars in federal funds. We need to do big things for a stronger education system like ensuring every DC resident can attend community college for free and making sure every school building is safe and healthy.”
Erin’s Plan for Public Education as a Right focuses on three key areas:
Fully fund our schools. Year after year, DC has failed to adequately fund our public schools. This means that schools have lost staff and resources or had to take money from other places – like targeted funding for students classified as “at-risk” – to fund basic needs. We must first adequately fund our schools and then ensure equity by enforcing the law that requires targeted “at-risk” funding to be supplemental.
Conduct real education oversight. DC schools are under Mayoral control, which means the Mayor and executive agencies have significant authority with regard to school governance. This governance structure only works with meaningful, consistent oversight from the DC Council as a co-equal branch of government – not deference to the Mayor or oversight that is currently weak by design.
Support safe and healthy schools. DC students and school staff deserve safe and healthy learning environments. Yet, many school buildings are in disrepair, as DC struggles to timely and equitably modernize and maintain school buildings. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of safe and healthy school buildings, as well as the city’s longstanding failures to provide air filtration and temperature control systems. DC has made piecemeal progress rather than systemic investments in safe and healthy schools.