Teachers, parents weigh in on DC Public Schools teacher retention and funding

Teachers and parents are sounding off to the D.C. Council about their needs and expectations from D.C. Public Schools as the challenges of learning through the pandemic continue.

Of the nearly 200 residents testifying during a D.C. Council Oversight hearing, parent Elizabeth Mitchell echoed the desire to see the city’s budget fully support school needs.

“Schools are being asked to slash budgets and cut staff when we all know it’s the wrong thing to do right now. We know our teachers are burned out. Our students need more support, not less,” she said.

Support was a common theme among the parents, educators and community representatives testifying to the Committee of the Whole.

“What I hear more than anything from my constituents is, please plan better for next term and especially for next year,” said Ward 3 Board of Education representative Ruth Wattenberg.

She’s concerned about teacher retention following a January survey of educators in both public and charter schools.

Of teachers polled, 43% of teachers have considered leaving this year because of the challenges during the pandemic.

“They won’t all leave but I fear many will if we don’t step up and our schools will be much the worse for it and less stable next year,” Wattenberg said.

Staffing cuts are also of concern heading into the new budget cycle.

“Teachers are being stretched to the limit. We’re facing an enormous teacher-retention crisis, which DCPS continuously refuses to acknowledge,” said Ward 7 teacher Laura Fuchs.

“It’s no secret that we are set to endure system-wide cuts to staff due to inadequate budgets. Council cannot let this happen,” said concerned parent Sandra Moscoso.

Chancellor Lewis Ferebee and DCPS administrators are among the agency representatives who are expected to testify to the council Wednesday.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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