The Francis Stevens PTA, prospective parents, and community members object to Chancellor Henderson's recommendation to close Francis Stevens Education Campus and relocate students to schools across the city -- and repurposing our building as a High School. By doing so, Chancellor Henderson discounts the thoughtful initiatives the staff and parent community has put into place to foster healthy, permanent, and sustainable growth. Francis Stevens should remain open because:
* Francis Stevens is growing – there is demand for what it offers. Ward 2 now has nearly as many children ages 0-5 as it does school age children. It makes little sense to close this school given the increasing demand it is seeing for early childhood instruction. Last year, the early childhood program turned away an entire classroom of students because DCPS would not staff the room. DCPS cannot turn away students and criticize our school for under-enrollment in the same breath.
* Consolidation in the name of efficiency – and without regard for educational quality – will drive more children away from DCPS, and has the potential to damage outcomes for those children who remain. Francis Stevens itself is the product of a consolidation in 2008, which wiped out many parent leaders. A new generation of families is filling up the early years. We’re motivated, we’re connected, and we’re all in.
* Francis Stevens hosts a unique Low Vision Special Education program for over a dozen visually-impaired students from PS3 through Grade 8. These sighted but legally blind students will be removed from their peers and teachers, and sent an unfamiliar campus on the other side of the city.
* DCPS cannot treat education like any other commodity: It’s a thoughtful process that cannot be arbitrarily shuttled from one building to another, naively expecting the same outcome regardless of place. Education needs to be nurtured, and in fact Francis Stevens test scores have been improving. This school can succeed precisely because it has manageable size, diversity, and history – the residents of the White House are in-boundary – and we have a vast range of commercial and community organizations nearby to support us.
* Francis Stevens’ location in downtown DC makes it attractive to out of boundary families from every ward in Washington. It is a long-term, viable, and safe option for working parents who want their children’s public schooling – up to eleven years of it from PS3 to Grade 8 – to take place near downtown DC. It is positioned to recruit it students city-wide and operate entrepreneurially, much like a charter.
We, the undersigned, strongly oppose the Chancellor’s proposal in the most emphatic terms.
Twitter @FSEC_PTA #saveFSEC
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