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GrayOpeningStatementPreKHearing111309

GrayOpeningStatementPreKHearing111309

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Published by Susie Cambria
Committee of the Whole Hearing Underway to Review Implementation of Gray Pre-K Enhancement and Expansion Act

Washington DC – D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray’s groundbreaking legislation, designed to significantly expand early childhood education for District of Columbia children, became law in July of 2008. The Act formally established a pre-kindergarten education system as the foundation for school reform and set a path for District children to succeed throughout their school and adult years. State Superintendent of Education Kerri L. Briggs will testify following about a dozen more public witnesses (The list is available upon request.).
Committee of the Whole Hearing Underway to Review Implementation of Gray Pre-K Enhancement and Expansion Act

Washington DC – D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray’s groundbreaking legislation, designed to significantly expand early childhood education for District of Columbia children, became law in July of 2008. The Act formally established a pre-kindergarten education system as the foundation for school reform and set a path for District children to succeed throughout their school and adult years. State Superintendent of Education Kerri L. Briggs will testify following about a dozen more public witnesses (The list is available upon request.).

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Published by: Susie Cambria on Nov 14, 2009
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11/13/2009

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For Immediate Release: Contact: Doxie A. McCoy
 
202-724-8032202-664-9862dmccoy@dccouncil.us
 
Committee of the Whole Hearing Underway to Review Implementation of GrayPre-K Enhancement and Expansion Act
 Washington DC – D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray’s groundbreaking legislation,designed to significantly expand early childhood education for District of Columbia children, became law in July of 2008. The Act formally established a pre-kindergarten education systemas the foundation for school reform and set a path for District children to succeed throughouttheir school and adult years. State Superintendent of Education Kerri L. Briggs will testifyfollowing about a dozen more public witnesses (The list is available upon request.).
 Here are key excerpts of the Chairman’s statement, followed by the full text of his statement:
 
“The Committee is deeply concerned with what appears to be a lack of collaborative andsufficient leadership in early childhood education within the Office of the StateSuperintendent of Education…
 
“Since the legislation’s enactment, the Council has allocated $22 million forimplementation. Yet, the Committee is concerned that most of the legislation’senhancement and expansion mandates appear not to have been met…“Essentially, OSSE’S actions have now put the District a year behind where the Councilintended the endeavor to be at this point…
 
“Prior reports from the field…indicate that many critical stakeholders have yet to even becontacted. Most importantly, it is our understanding that since this legislation was passed,not a single new pre-k slot has opened in the
community-based sector 
and not a singlequality improvement for teacher preparation grant has been issued…
 
“The legislation called for rapid expansion of pre-k programs to serve an additional 2,000un-served children. The Committee is pleased that OSSE has confirmed this numberthrough its capacity audit.“The Committee was gratified to see that the charter school community has emerged as aleader in early childhood education…
 
“However, the Committee is deeply concerned that no strategic implementation plan hasbeen presented to the Council as to how pre-k should be expanded across the city in eachsector [DCPS, charters, community organizations].
 
“The Council believes that universal pre-k is a critical building block in our city’s efforts toreform its public education system and equip the next generation with the skills,
 
knowledge, and disposition to compete in the 21st century economy…and I believe whenwe reach out to 3 and 4 year olds, there is a direct correlation between their success in earlychildhood education and their success in kindergarten and beyond.”
 
FULL STATEMENT:
 I AM VINCENT C. GRAY, CHAIRMAN OF THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OFCOLUMBIA AND I AM CALLING TO ORDER THIS PUBLIC HEARING ON THE OFFICEOF THE STATE SUPERINTENDENT’S PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTING THE PRE-K ENHANCEMENT AND EXPANSION ACT OF 2008…DC LAW 17-202.THE DC COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY PASSED THIS LEGISLATION TO ENSURE THATBY 2014, EVERY THREE-YEAR-OLD IS AFFORDED AN OPPORTUNITY TO ATTEND ATWO-YEAR HIGH-QUALITY PRE-K EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM. THE LEGISLATIONDIRECTS OSSE TO ENGAGE IN A YEAR-LONG PLANNING PROCESS THATCULMINATES IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF A FIVE-YEAR EXPANSION PLAN AND THEESTABLISHMENT OF GRANT PROGRAMS DESIGNED TO IMPROVE THE QUALITYOF EXISTING PRE-K PROGRAMS. AT THIS HEARING, THE COMMITTEE WILLREVIEW OSSE’S PLANNING PROCESS, RESULTS TO-DATE, AND OVERALLSTRATEGY FOR THE ENHANCEMENT AND EXPANSION OF PRE-K PROGRAMS.THE COUNCIL BELIEVES THAT UNIVERSAL PRE-K IS A CRITICAL BUILDINGBLOCK IN OUR CITY’S EFFORTS TO REFORM ITS PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEMAND EQUIP THE NEXT GENERATION WITH THE SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, ANDDISPOSITION TO COMPETE IN THE 21ST CENTURY ECONOMY.THE TASK OF TRANSFORMING THE CITY’S CURRENT ARRAY OF PRE-K PROGRAMS INTO A HIGH-PERFORMING, HIGH-QUALITY SYSTEM SHOULD BEVIEWED AS A SERIOUS TASK THAT REQUIRES THE COMMITMENT OF A RANGE OFSTAKEHOLDERS FROM BUSINESS LEADERS TO THE HIGHER EDUCATIONCOMMUNITY.
HOWEVER, THE COMMITTEE IS DEEPLY CONCERNED WITH WHAT APPEARSTO BE A LACK OF COLLABORATIVE AND SUFFICIENT LEADERSHIP IN EARLYCHILDHOOD EDUCATION WITHIN THE OFFICE OF THE STATESUPERINTENDENT FOR EDUCATION.
 
PRIOR REPORTS FROM THE FIELD, MANY OF WHICH WE WILL HEAR AGAINTODAY, INDICATE THAT MANY CRITICAL STAKEHOLDERS HAVE YET TOEVEN BE CONTACTED. MOST IMPORTANTLY, IT IS OUR UNDERSTANDINGTHAT SINCE THIS LEGISLATION WAS PASSED, NOT A SINGLE NEW PRE-K SLOT HAS OPENED IN THE COMMUNITY-BASED SECTOR AND NOT A SINGLEQUALITY IMPROVEMENT FOR TEACHER PREPARATION GRANT HAS BEENISSUED.
 
THE COMMITTEE WAS GRATIFIED TO SEE THAT THE CHARTER SCHOOLCOMMUNITY HAS EMERGED AS A LEADER IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION. IWANT TO TAKE A MOMENT TO COMMEND THOSE IN THAT SECTOR AND THOSELEADERS IN COMMUNITY BASED ORGANIZATION (CBO) AND PUBLIC SCHOOLSECTOR WHO HAVE ALSO HEARD THE COUNCIL’S CALL FOR DRAMATIC REFORMIN THIS ARENA.HOWEVER UNDER THIS LEGISLATION, THE OFFICE OF THE STATESUPERINTENDENT HAS THE ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY FOR TRANSFORMINGTHE CITY’S ARRAY OF EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS INTO A HIGH-QUALITY,HIGH-PERFORMING SYSTEM.THE LEGISLATION OUTLINES TWO CENTRAL STRATEGIES TO ACHIEVE THISTRANSFORMATION – THE ENHANCEMENT OF EXISTING PROGRAMS AND THEEXPANSION OF NEW CLASSROOMS TO PROVIDE FOR 2,000 UN-SERVEDCHILDREN.
SINCE THE LEGISLATION’S ENACTMENT, THE COUNCIL HAS ALLOCATED $22MILLION TO IMPLEMENT THIS LEGISLATION [EVEN AFTER A BUDGETREDUCTION]. YET, THE COMMITTEE IS CONCERNED THAT MOST OF THELEGISLATION’S ENHANCEMENT AND EXPANSION MANDATES APPEAR NOTTO HAVE BEEN MET…
I’LL REVIEW THE LEGISLATION’S CENTRAL STRATEGIES AND MENTION KEYLINES OF INQUIRY THAT THE COMMITTEE WILL PURSUE DURING THIS HEARING.FIRST, THE LEGISLATION ADDRESSED THE ISSUE OF QUALITY BY SETTINGFORTH IN THE LEGISLATION AN EXPLICIT PROCESS FOR SYSTEMICIMPROVEMENT AND A CLEAR, FAST-PACED TIMETABLE TO HOLD OSSEACCOUNTABLE FOR RESULTS. THE FAST-PACED TIMETABLE WAS DESIGNED TOENSURE THAT UNIVERSAL PRE-K WOULD UNFOLD ALONGSIDE AND IN CONCERTWITH OTHER DISTRICT EFFORTS TO REFORM ITS PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM.
THE FIRST STEP IN THIS QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROCESS REQUIRES OSSETO SET RESEARCH-BASED STANDARDS AND RIGOROUS PROGRAMREQUIREMENTS THAT ALL PRE-K PROGRAMS ARE REQUIRED TO MEET BYSEPTEMBER 1, 2014. IT APPEARS OSSE HAS NOT ADOPTED THE STANDARDSAND REQUIREMENTS WITHIN THE 120-DAY DEADLINE – EVEN THOUGH THECONTENT STANDARDS HAD ALREADY BEEN ADOPTED BY THE BOARD OFEDUCATION IN 2006.
IN DECEMBER OF 2008, OSSE FINALLY SUBMITTED THE CONTENT STANDARDS TOTHE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION. HOWEVER, THEY DID NOT SUBMIT THEPROGRAM REQUIREMENTS. WHEN I PERSONALLY INQUIRED DURING THE SPRINGBUDGET HEARINGS AS TO THE STATUS OF THESE REQUIREMENTS,SUPERINTENDENT KERRI BRIGGS SENT A LETTER TO MY OFFICE ON APRIL 7, 2009

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