There certainly is a lot of bad going on in DCPS-land lately. Huge numbers of firings (some of which seem to have been based on little more than personal dislike of a teacher), budget shortfalls, and delayed DC-CAS scores -- to name only a few. But it's summer, I'm in a good mood, and other bloggers have already covered those things well. So I'm going to post about something good for a change.
Today, Rhee and Fenty announced that 13 DCPS schools would be starting specialized programs -- from music education to science and technology to Chinese language and culture -- in the 2010-2011 school year. The coming year will be spent on the planning and recruiting.
I love so much about this. First, the specialized programs will (for the first time) be available at neighborhood schools that do not require applications or portfolios to enroll. Second, the programs will allow educators to develop curricula that they are passionate about, which will likely lead to happier (and more stable) staffs. Third, and most important, since we all are sure that Chinese and photography aren't going to be assessed on the DC-CAS, this is a clear and incontrovertible statement that DCPS at least recognizes the need to focus more on actual learning and less on test scores. And that's a big deal.
There are some problems here, to be sure. For one, these programs were born of a desire to increase enrollment, and not necessarily to help kids learn. Additionally, the money to fund these programs is only guaranteed for the next three years, after which the schools will have to continue funding them from their own (hopefully larger, due to increased enrollment) budgets. We'll have to see how effective these programs really are. But in the meantime, I'm willing to give the Chancellor's office some credit for carrying out a good idea.
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