Open and Democratize DC Education Budget Hearings!

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This year, due to Covid-19, the hearings on the education budget in DC are being advertised as invitation only.   A budget cannot be approved for our city’s schools without input from students, teachers, parents, advocates and the public at large. We should also take this opportunity to improve and democratize these hearings.  Advocates regularly put tremendous thought and preparation into public testimonies that, while heard by those council members and staff who attend, rarely receive real consideration or a thorough exchange of ideas.  Virtual tools allow us to change that.

We propose open and democratic guidelines along the lines of the proposal below:

* Education budget hearings are open to the public who may sign up to testify

* The hearing should be held on a virtual platform that is secure where each person providing public testimony is “admitted” to the video meeting when they are called on to testify.  

* Include simultaneous interpretation channel for Limited English speakers 

* The hearing should be simultaneously streamed in Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc… through a common streamer app that merges the chats.

* A moderated comment feature should include the ability to submit comments or questions that get voted up and down based on full public participation. 

* If more than 15 people indicate an interest in a specific question or comment, the chairman or the council member to whom the question is directed should be compelled to answer

* If more than 50 people indicate an interest in a specific question or comment, that should trigger a read out of the comment/ question followed by a 5 minutes of discussion and debate among council members present.