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DC Councilman wants DCPS to examine how they educate students of color to close education gap

“The pandemic has exacerbated the divide between students of color, and their white peers in our public schools.” Councilman Robert White said.

WASHINGTON — No doubt the past year during the pandemic has been especially hard on school kids. As more students head back to the classrooms, local leaders are focusing on bridging educational gaps. 

A D.C. Councilman said it’s time to examine D.C. Public Schools and how they educate students of color, English language learners and students with disabilities in comparison to their white peers.

D.C. Councilman Robert White said while the city and nation are looking at other disparities and injustices with fresh eyes, it’s time to do the same for education. 

“The pandemic has exacerbated the divide between students of color, and their white peers in our public schools,” Councilman White said.

White said for the last four years he’s been on the council, he’s been trying to get students educated equally. 

“When we return to in-person learning, something that looks more like normal, we can't return to the same routine that has not been working for so many students. We have to identify what is not working for these students and fix it,” White said.

He said the issues transcend racial lines and that while the District has seen some improvements in the overall success of students when the data is broken down into subgroups, it tells a very different story.

“The problem is that our schools have not been tracking this data year to year, or by subcategory and that's the reason the gap has not been addressed,” White added.

In his latest post on social media, the councilman used data collected by Osse in 2019, before the pandemic. It shows, only 21% of Black students are on grade level in math compared to 79% of their white peers. In English and Language Arts, 28% of Black students are on grade level compared to 85% of their white peers. 

“We cannot fix a problem that we don't identify," White said. "So, what I am asking is, let us figure it out. There's something that is working, some things that are working, but there are some things that are not working.”

Councilman White has written a resolution and is pushing the chairman of the council to put it up for a vote. He said if he’s ignored like he has been in years past, he’ll continue to push the issue until he sees students educated equally. 

WUSA9 also reached out to a D.C. Public Schools spokesperson and has not heard back.

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