The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is responsible for important services that affect the full “cradle to career” spectrum — from our youngest children to adults seeking skills to improve their job prospects. DCFPI commented on three pressing OSSE issues — improving access to quality child care, strengthening adult education programs, and looking out for the needs of students who are homeless — when we testified on the OSSE budget last week. You can read the full testimony here.
- Early Learning: Improve the quality and capacity of DC’s child care system. We support Mayor Gray’s proposal to improve the quality of child care and to expand the capacity of providers serving low-income families through the city’s child care subsidy program. This is good news for children and for working parents looking for affordable care that meets their children’s developmental needs. It’s not yet clear, however, how many more children can be served next year, which we hope OSSE will clarify. The hearing revealed that the Office of Early Childhood Education will hire a new director this summer, providing needed leadership to an important division that has been without a full-time director for a while.
- Adult Education: Help maintain and build on progress made this year. This year’s budget includes a $4 million partnership between
OSSE and the Department of Employment Services to provide literacy services to residents looking for work. DCFPI and other members of the Adult Family Literacy Coalition support continuing that partnership, but it is not explicitly funded in the budget. In addition, OSSE needs new funds to assess about 200 adult learners who may have learning disabilities, so that they can get access to accommodations like extra test time and assistive technology to pass the GED and advance in post-secondary education. This would cost just $340,000.
- Homeless Children and Youth: Review and upgrade services to homeless students. Over 4,000 students in DC public schools and DC public charter schools are homeless, 60 percent more than four years ago. The spike in family homelessness makes it especially important that schools have the tools and resources needed to provide educational continuity for homeless children. DC’s leaders should assess the capacity of homeless liaisons located at each school, ensure they have the support they need from OSSE’s homeless coordinator, and assess the adequacy of transportation and other supports to students. DCFPI urges the Council to add local funds if federal funds are not enough to meet those needs.
Keep checking back with the District’s Dime for FY 2015 budget updates!