Thousands of area schoolchildren are now or will soon be back in the classroom to begin a productive year of learning. The school year starts as most remember it with the purchase of school supplies and uniforms, immunizations and physical exams. Teachers have been in place for weeks, getting to know their schools, catching up with colleagues and in many cases, meeting newly appointed principals. Classrooms are tidy and clean and security teams are in place along with metal detectors to ensure the safety of their students.
But sending children back to school is a double-edged sword for many parents who are relieved to return to a regular routine but anxious about the challenges their children may face this year.
New DCPS policies appear more lenient as it relates to absenteeism and tardiness. School officials recognize that some students travel farther, and others face family obligations that impact their ability to be in school on time, every day. Those students’ educational needs will be met, DCPS promises, rather than face punitive action impacting their ability to make it through to graduation.
Still, it has been reported that many D.C. teachers remain uncertified and some parents are still in the dark over charges that they did not pay hefty in-state tuition fees for their out-of-state children that attend DCPS. There will undoubtedly be those parents who will still test the system while DCPS struggles to make sure it gets the system right.
Safe passage is also a serious concern for those school administrators who don’t want to see a repeat of any year when a student was injured or killed on the way to or from school. Community organizations, parents and nearby neighbors who lined the sidewalks and entryways to welcome students on their first day will need to remain visible to ensure continuous safe passages.
While D.C. schools rank among the lowest in the nation, they are also, reportedly, among the fastest-improving, as well. This positive momentum must continue. We all have a role to play to ensure every student’s success. Let’s make this 2018-19 school year the very best.