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Catania Calls DCPS Goals On Student Scores 'Incredibly Unrealistic'

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David Catania has some changes in mind as the head of D.C.'s Committee on Education.
Mallory Noe-Payne
David Catania has some changes in mind as the head of D.C.'s Committee on Education.

When D.C. Council member David Catania took over as head of the Education Committee for the city, one of the first things he did was to hire a law firm, paid for with private dollars, to look at every aspect of the District's public schools. He's expected to recommend a dramatically larger budget for the school systems, but his ideas don't end there.

Catania is skeptical about DCPS's signature program to get students on grade level.

"We have an incredibly unrealistic target that by 2017 all our schools will be at 70 percent proficiency, which is just folly," Catania says.

Catania says right now schools can be closed when they don't have enough children enrolled, but there's no mechanism to close schools when they don't make academic progress.

"When I asked our state superintendent about the consequences of that, she said ,'We'll send them a letter,'" Catania says.

Catania would like to see some consequences, including firing all the staff, another provider taking over the school, or giving the chancellor chartering authority to open a new school. He also says he wants the ombudsman's office funded again and have it play an advocacy role.

"Many parents just don't know if there's a disciplinary issue, who do I go to and how do I discuss it? I'm looking for these programs, where do I go? Especially for parents of kids with special needs, I want a robust advocate," Catania says.

Catania is also looking into a uniform lottery process for all traditional and charter public schools as well as giving high performing charter schools access to empty DCPS buildings.

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