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Battle to Graduate

From “Battling Homelessness, Crime On The Path To Graduation” on WAMU 88.5′s Morning Edition:

Homelessness often insurmountable for high school students

Staying in school with an ever-changing address hasn’t been easy for Christopher. That’s because his mother had a hard time holding down a job and they frequently couldn’t pay the rent.

“For the most part, things stayed in containers, so all I had to do was store some trophies here, put some papers there, done,” he says. “My room is packed up perfectly ready to go.”

Christopher also had to ration food, and hide the fact that he couldn’t afford to do laundry more than once a month. [...]

School and other social support systems crucial

Children who are homeless are much more likely to drop out; one study shows that only 50 percent of children who are homeless for some period of high school will graduate. Christopher?s positive attitude has been tested. He has to travel farther and get to school earlier now to use the internet. Sometimes it gets to be too much.

WAMU also profiles Travaris, who is about to graduate from high school at 22 years old after spending 3 years in prison. But despite the financial and psychological challenges, he “comes to school on time every day and stays after class to complete assignments mentors other students.” He attends Luke C. Moore Academy, which offers a second chance to at-risk students, and Christopher is set to graduate from Hospitality High School and continue on to Michigan State. The obstacles for these students are markedly different — and the supports that they needed (and need) to overcome them are not strictly academic. So how can we ensure that students have the tools that they need to get to class and be free to learn, be that a mentor or clean clothes?

Learn more about our enrichment-focused education non-profits here and get to know our human service organizations that are dedicated to kids and families.

Aging At Home

From “A Shift From Nursing Homes to Managed Care at Home” in the New York Times:

Faced with soaring health care costs and shrinking Medicare and Medicaid financing, nursing home operators are closing some facilities and embracing an emerging model of care that allows many elderly patients to remain in their homes and still receive the medical and social services available in institutions. [...]

In the newer model, a team of doctors, social workers, physical and occupational therapists and other specialists provides managed care for individual patients at home, at adult day-care centers and in visits to specialists. Studies suggest that it can be less expensive than traditional nursing homes while providing better medical outcomes. [...]

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Each Tomorrow

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today. [...]

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

– American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, born today in 1807

Around Town: February 24-26

Good morning, Greater Washington! What might strike your fancy this weekend?


Meet at the intersection of Anacostia Avenue NE and Douglas Street NE for a Nash Run Trash Trap Cleanup with the Anacostia Watershed Society on Saturday at noon; these traps prevent the spread of trash without injuring or harming wildlife like fish from moving freely about the river (be sure to RSVP!). And on Sunday at 10:00 AM, join Potomac Conservancy for the monthly cleanup day at Fletcher’s Cove; this cleanup is open to all ages and the Conservancy will provide all the necessary supplies.


Lucy Bowen McCauley, artistic director of BMDC, will perform in Perspectivoyage, a new work created with her “artistic blind dates” Matthew Mann and David Robb at INTERSECTIONS: A New America Arts Festival at the Atlas this Friday at 6:00 & 8:30 PM. INTERSECTIONS continues through March 11, so be sure to head over to H Street! On Saturday at 8:00 PM and Sunday at 2:00 & 5:00 PM, join CityDance Ensemble for a special open house performance in the new Studio Theater and catch a glimpse into the School & Conservatory; call (202) 347-3909 to learn more. And on Saturday at 8:00 PM, Joy of Motion Dance presents Nomad Dancers’ CARAVANSARY, where dancers meet on the path of rhythm; nab your tickets here.


On Saturday at 8:00 PM, the National Philharmonic presents the six celebrated Brandenburg Concertos by J. S. Bach, which display a light side of Bach’s genius and each highlight a different instrumental combination; tickets are available right here. The American Youth Philharmonic present works by Verdi, Tchaikovsky, von Suppe, Schubert, and Brahams in the AYSO and AYCO Concert, “Fate’s Fortune,” side by side with musicians from the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra; more information right here!

In The News …

DC schools with more low-income, academically troubled students should get more money, panel recommends (DC Schools Insider): “The 15-member [Public Education Finance Reform Commission] panel concluded its work last week with a series of recommendations to the Gray administration : add an additional “weight” to the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula so that schools receive more money for serving larger numbers of students who are both from low-income households.” The panel also recommended a year-long study on the real costs of “adequate” public education in DC to inform further funding revisions. The commission did not study the “appropriate role for the District in funding and/or finding buildings for charter schools,” although that was a key topic of conversation.

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A Creative Test

From “Schools We Can Envy” in the New York Review of Books:

Faced with the relentless campaign against teachers and public education, educators have sought a different narrative, one free of the stigmatization by test scores and punishment favored by the corporate reformers. They have found it in Finland. [...]

Finland has spent the past forty years developing a different education system, one that is focused on improving the teaching force, limiting student testing to a necessary minimum, placing responsibility and trust before accountability, and handing over school- and district-level leadership to education professionals.

To an American observer, the most remarkable fact about Finnish education is that students do not take any standardized tests until the end of high school. They do take tests, but the tests are drawn up by their own teachers, not by a multinational testing corporation. The Finnish nine-year comprehensive school is a “standardized testing-free zone,” where children are encouraged to know, to create, and to sustain natural curiosity.”

The entire article is certainly worth a read, but I was particularly struck by the emphasis on “the development of each child as a thinking, active, creative person” — all qualities that are not only outside the realm of standardized test-taking, but that are arguably more essential to long-term development than the material on a standardized test. So what do you think? Do the words that we use to discuss public education reform themselves need reforming?

Following Presidents Day

I see a great nation, upon a great continent, blessed with a great wealth of natural resources. Its hundred and thirty million people are at peace among themselves; they are making their country a good neighbor among the nations. I see a United States which can demonstrate that, under democratic methods of government, national wealth can be translated into a spreading volume of human comforts hitherto unknown, and the lowest standard of living can be raised far above the level of mere subsistence.

But here is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens — a substantial part of its whole population — who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life. [...]

It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope — because the Nation, seeing and understanding the injustice in it, proposes to paint it out. We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country’s interest and concern; and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding group within our borders as superfluous.

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

If I know aught of the spirit and purpose of our Nation, we will not listen to Comfort, Opportunism, and Timidity. We will carry on.

– President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second Inaugural Address (1937)

Around Town: February 17-20

Enjoy the long weekend, Greater Washington! Some great events are right around the corner …

CIVILIZATION (all you can eat) at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (641 D Street NW)

Six hungry city-dwellers scramble for sustenance in this provocative vaudeville of American enterprise and ingenuity, featuring an award-winning DC cast. Performance on Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 7 PM; nab your tickets here.

“Pre-Mardi Gras” Celebration at Downtown Cluster’s Geriatric Day Care Center (at Xi Omega Center, 4411 14th Street NW)

Line dancing, hand dancing, music by DJ- Mr. “C,” plus a light meal on Friday at 7PM. Proceeds to help provide therapeutic care and supportive services to at-risk older persons so that they remain in the community. Call (202) 347-7527 to purchase your tickets.

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More For Schools

Regarding “Report: Fixing Education Disparities Is a Public Safety Strategy” from the Justice Policy Institute, DCentric writes:

Researchers found the same stark disparities we’ve examined when it comes to education levels in DC’s wards; for instance, one-fifth of Ward 8 adults haven’t completed high school. But the report also breaks down formal education levels of DC’s adults by race. Nearly all white adults in DC — 99 percent of them — have a high school diploma or higher. For African Americans, 80 percent of adults have completed high school, while 57 percent of Hispanic adults have high school diplomas. [...]

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In The News …

Objections to Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (WAMU: Diane Rehm Show): “The widely praised Violence Against Women Act faces a tough reauthorization battle. Though introduced in a bipartisan way, it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote with all the Democrats voting to move it to the full Senate and all the Republicans voting against.” Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, explains that the bill “as passed out of the Senate committee, recognizes the LGBT community immigrant women who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse;” but the bill does not include a “mandate for holding batterers accountable” or a reparations provision. 17 Catalogue nonprofits, including the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, focus particularly on girls and women and women; learn more right here.

President Obama’s Budget Request for the NEA: The Fine Print (Americans for the Arts blog): “We learned early that morning that President Obama is proposing an increase of $8 million (from $146M to $154M) for the NEA, which was a very positive start. In the past two years, NEA funding has dropped almost $22M and has yet to recover from the enormous cuts from its high of $176M in 1992. In particular, the budget of the Our Town program, which rewarded over half of its grants to communities of less than 200,000 in 2011, would increase from $5 million to $10 million. Two months ago, the NEA also announced Operation Homecoming, a partnership with the Department of Defense that will host “a new series of writing workshops for returning troops at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.”

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