I have lived in Adams Morgan in Ward 1 since 1998, and am fortunate to have Oyster-Adams Bilingual School as my DCPS neighborhood school. My husband is of Cuban descent, and therefore bilingual education has been a priority for my girls, now 11 and 13. While Oyster-Adams is a great environment for my youngest, when my older daughter was in 5th grade we realized that she needed a curriculum that was better able to adjust to her needs. A friend of mine told me about a new charter school that would feature a language-focused middle and high school experience for students currently at 5 language-focused charter elementary schools, plus others in the community. My daughter was ready for a change, so we participated in the lottery and were offered a spot at DC International School (DCI) in the Spanish track.
Today, DCI has earned its International Baccalaureate designation as well as Tier 1 status after just 3 years in operation. It is the most diverse school in DC, providing instruction in Spanish, French, and Chinese to students at all levels. With a strong emphasis on social justice and civic engagement, DCI is making significant strides in closing the achievement gap. Best of all, the school has proactively advanced my daughter in subjects where she shows strength. I recently joined the DCI board of directors because, like my daughter, I enjoy helping to build programs from the ground up.
There are so many charter success stories like my own, that are not being told in DC – in part because of the undercurrent of contention that continues to exist between the charter and public sectors. As a communications and social change professional with a child in each sector, I feel strongly that school administrators and city officials should put agendas aside, and promote collaboration and peer-to-peer learning among schools – not perpetuate pro- and anti-charter school factions. I joined the PAVE board because parents are key if we are to make this vision a reality. School choice is here to stay in DC – and if we lift our voices and work together, we can create a unified system that leads the nation in helping all children and families succeed.
By Deanna Troust, PAVE Board Member