It seems like only yesterday we were asking our members to preemptively get budget season on their minds and yet a couple months later here we are in the middle of the FY'14 budget season. Yesterday's OSSE/DME/SBOE hearing put us just over the halfway point for hearings so we thought we would share some of the highlights for those of you who couldn't make it or didn't tune in to listen to all 76 witnesses (big shout out to OSSE here for organizing so many of their grantees and supporters!).
So, onto the major points on the youth front from yesterday's hearing:
1) Fund Pathways to Adult Literacy: Many of you may know that the Mayor's "wish list" of funding proposals includes a $4 million dollar bump to the Office of Adult and Family Education at OSSE, but many constituents (DCAYA included) testified today to take that priority off the "wish list" and move it into OSSE's operating budget for FY'14. The Youth-Friendly DC readership may remember the blog post we did around the time of OSSE's performance hearing on why "adult" literacy services could also be considered youth literacy services, but beyond that its also important to fund these services at an appropriate level because one of the number one predictors of K-12 students academic success is their parents literacy level. Many of the witnesses at yesterday's hearing were their representing OSSE's adult basic education grantees and they gave some very moving testimony on why funding adult literacy services is of the utmost importance.
2) Support is High for the Dual Enrollment Fund: As the always eloquent Nicole Hanrahan from DCAYA member org LAYC mentioned in her testimony, the Dual Enrollment Fund that was established by OSSE earlier this year has made college level coursework a reality for dozens of students in the District. Dual enrollment is an often cited strategy for decreasing high school dropout, increasing college access and retention and is a very promising strategy for students who are seeking to earn an alternative high school credential such as the GED. A number of students, CBOs and even representatives from local post-secondary institutions like Trinity, Howard and the Community College testified on the importance of this fund. Chairman Catania did voice a willingness to find funding to bolster the Dual Enrollment fund in the future, but he did say today that his current funding priority is the Pathways to Adult Literacy Fund.
3) Ensure the Career and Technical Education Line Item Holds Steady: As you may have read in our first take on the budget a few weeks back, the CTE line item in OSSE's budget is set to experience a cut of about $300,000. We have spoken with OSSE about this cut, and it sounds as though this cut is not a true cut and current programming levels will hold. It is important to recognize thought that for OSSE to carry out the recommendations of the CTE Task Force that met last fall, more funds will likely be needed. DCAYA's testimony raised this point in conjunction with a few other stakeholders.
4) Fund the Education Ombudsman Office:There was some chatter late last year about re-funding this office and here at DCAYA we are generally supportive of funding an office in the education cluster who has the sole responsibility of being responsive to parents and students who are having issues in both DCPS and Charters. The District is legally required to have and Ombudsman, however the position was only ever funded for one year. Both Chairman Catania and Council member Grosso seemed to support bringing back an Ombudsman.
There were a number of points made by various stakeholders at the hearing about the early education expansion planned by OSSE for FY'14. Sharra Greer's testimony from Children's Law Center, gives a fantastic overview of some of the planned changes. This however is not DCAYA's area of expertise so we'll leave that one to the experts to cover.
This post was written by DCAYA Policy Analyst Anne Abbott. To contact her with questions or concerns you can email her here.
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