District of Columbia Mayoral Candidate Dennis Moore Outlines Major "Out-of-the-Box" Educational Excellence Initiative - Critics Say He's Way Outside DC's Usual Candidates
Dennis Moore, the Republican D.C. mayoral candidate released his "Comprehensive Plan for Educational Excellence" to overhaul Washington's deteriorating school system. Critics say his plan strikingly distinguishes him from the Democratic mayoral front-runners, especially his GOP competitor David Kranich. Moore says his "out-of-the-box" Excellent Schools Plan (ESP) is what D.C. parents are demanding to bring "genuine educational empowerment" to all District students. The plan is as follows:
Some candidates view education as the single most critical element, and the key to resolving all of our city-state's many systemic socioeconomic ills. Surely, it is a very integral part of our entire system of governance. But the fact remains, if we don't systemically and strategically create genuine accountability and fiscal responsibility at the core of District of Columbia's government then our education system -- and all the other elements that support education -- will continue to fail our children and us.
The undeniable fact is we have money for our schools, nearly the highest per student rate in America. Yet, it is our current system of fiscal priorities and administrative accountability, including much of the leadership that manages it, that cripples our educational system. Every parent and teacher knows this, and our children continue to suffer because of it.
In an election year, DC mayoral, council member and school board candidates predictably target one issue to campaign on without reviewing and recognizing the bigger picture of the District government's system. It's an easy attention getter, and allows candidates easy talking points as they campaign. But, if the complexity of our education system's problems were that easy, we would not be in the deteriorated state it is now -- near the bottom of all 50 states. That's the reality check we have to fully and honestly recognize by being proactive with clear insight and a real plan, rather than predictable and patronizing campaign rhetoric.
Republican DC mayoral candidate Dennis Moore's Excellent Schools Plan (ESP) is a comprehensive and holistic plan to strategically restructure and empower all of our schools to be a student-focused system of educational excellence. ESP is Dennis Moore's mission for resizable walking distance neighborhood schools, with 10-student classrooms geared to student-focused educational excellence -- not mass bureaucracy education. ESP begins empowering our children in pre-school at age 2, and effectively follows through to their senior year in college. This Plan, rooted in higher expectations, will support several effective, innovative and collaborative efforts by our parents, educators and the Moore Administration -- blending the best of public and charter school, academy, high quality choice, and achievement oriented academic environments -- without bureaucratic barriers.
ESP begins with redeveloping DC public and charter schools into non-tuition Public Academies that empower children with a stronger and more challenging academic program, as well as a truly conducive school facilities environment. The curriculum includes technology, science, strategic-critical thinking, practical mathematics, environmental studies, performing arts, fine arts, American culture, global cultures, social science, government studies, entrepreneurship, personal finance, and conflict resolution.
Additionally courses will include public speaking, interpersonal communication, languages (Spanish, Hausa, Swahili, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Aramaic, French, Italian, Latin, German, and Portuguese), introductory college studies, life management, physical fitness and comprehensive health education. There will be a vocational education curriculum component, including diverse courses in technology, maintenance, repair, design, entrepreneurial and service industry courses. ESP will systemically provide guaranteed full funding, upgrades and accountable expansion for all aspects of the Public Academies to effectively educate pre-kindergarten (age 3) children to high school students.
As mayor, Dennis Moore will initiate the development and standardization of the Douglass Academy Program for pre-school (age 2-3), primary academy (kindergarten to 3rd grade; age 4-7), junior academy (4th to 7th grade; age 8-11) and senior academy students (8th to 11th grade; age 12-15). The program, named in honor of self-educated social activist and presidential advisor Frederick Douglass, combines highly motivated and experienced teachers with state-of-the-art educational resources. Each class of 10 students has one teacher, amounting to 400 students per school composed of 100 students per grade. The school's 10 academic advisors (4 parents, 4 teachers, and 2 students) and the academy director will manage, advise, regulate, and regularly assess overall academy operations, academic achievement, administration and operational effectiveness. A staff of 20 highly skilled administrative specialists supports the teachers.
Each teacher is required to have a specialized bachelor's degree in science, mathematics, history, languages, arts, health, fitness, technology, business or another needed discipline. Special interdisciplinary degrees are eligible as well. All teachers in the program will have at least 2 years of exceptional hands-on teaching experience, and are required to pass an annual standardized (annually revised) written and oral examination prior to retention. Teachers will receive monetary bonuses based on the overall performance percentage of students that pass annual mid-year and final semester summer standardized examinations.
Here are the basic logistics of how Dennis Moore's Excellence Schools Plan will empower our children in the present and for the future:
• A fully accountable and targeted budgeting process, managed through the Central Accounting and Payroll System (CAPS), directs the appropriate quantity of money, supplies and resources to the academies. Money and related resources follow the needs of students and teachers, not the bureaucracy. The academy's entire budget is strictly monitored, and based on specific needs as determined by the academy director and academy advisors, with superintendent oversight.
• All students admitted into the senior academy level program are selected based on recommendations from a twenty-member board equally composed of educators and parents. Students are recommended based on a proven record of low or challenged academic achievement, but have shown specific potential for improvement. This speaks to the historical legacy and success of self-educated patriot-activist Frederick Douglass.
• Parents, or guardians, will be required to attend half-hour advisory meetings twice each month to discuss their child's overall and specific progress, as well as address any concerns or issues. Additionally, special-needs counseling will be available. The parent, student, and a trained advisor experienced in both academic and social issues counseling will attend this service when confidentially recommended by the student's teacher.
• The initial group of Douglass Academy's 400 senior academy students, at 100 students per grade, will attend classes on a landscaped 8-acre campus to be constructed in southeast Washington. The campus will include individual dormitory rooms for two students, as well as free campus apartments for faculty and administrative staff. Students have the option of living on campus full time only with the written permission of their parents or legal guardians. Students are also required to wear uniforms.
• In addition to the standard school facilities (modern fully-equipped classrooms, a combined student and faculty dining room, separate boys and girls gymnasiums, separate swimming pools, multimedia library, faculty and administrative offices), the campus will include high-tech digital audio and video studio facilities for diverse student productions. Student education will be enhanced by their ability to use the studios for news, music, and specialized multimedia projects related to course material. Science and technology labs will be standard, plus durable wireless pre-programmed laptop computers for each student for homework and classroom instruction.
• Build fully functional and architecturally modular, walking distance, neighborhood schools where the quantity of classroom and office space can be easily resized (expanded or reduced) to fit neighborhood student populations. These architecturally stylish modular schools will also be constructed of environmentally safe and energy efficient materials.
• Guarantee full funding to raise and maintain the annual base salary of teachers to $40,000 (currently $38,434), plus performance bonuses and benefits.
• Establish a functional, accountable and fully funded Central Supply Service to provide basic and specialized school supplies at no expense to teachers and students. Reduce costs and raise access to educational resources by gradually replacing textbooks with durable wireless laptop computers preloaded with grade appropriate educational materials. Develop tight controls with severe penalties to eliminate waste and fraud in the acquisition and distribution of school supplies, equipment and services.
• Build the ISIS (Information Systems Infrastructure for Schools) network to enhance interactive administration (school-to-school) and student learning (home-to-school). Develop the Family Ties parent/child focused after-school and weekend education programs to increase direct parent involvement in their children's education. ISIS is designed to empower students, teachers and parents for online after-school learning, tutoring, mentoring, real-time school information, classroom monitoring for parents, and general academic support that will sustain world-class educational achievement.
• Create a strong partnership between parents, teachers, local colleges and businesses to generate practical long term plans to educate children for the real world. Support a school administrative structure that effectively partners both parents and teachers in school activities and student accountability.
• Expand the school year to begin on the third Monday of August, and end on the last Friday of June. This schedules the entire school year for 44 five-day weeks of education. Absences for federal and cultural holidays will be made-up by requiring students to attend school for three hours (9 AM to 12 noon) during one Saturday session each month.
• Redevelop and expand the University of the District of Columbia into the tuition-free Frederick Douglass University. Graduates of the District of Columbia public and private school systems will have first-preference admission to FDU. There will be a rigorous curriculum emphasis on science, technology, performing arts, fine arts, mathematics, business, economics, public administration, life skills, law, communications, environmental studies, American culture, and global culture.
• Create the Douglass Academy Program for pre-school to senior academy students (2-15 year old children).
• Mandate a $40,000 annual base salary for all teachers, including annual teacher performance reviews.
• Develop a fully funded and strictly accountable schools supply inventories for teachers and students.
• Create the ISIS (Information Services Infrastructure for Schools).
• Personal finance and small business training courses in all high schools.
• Create operational partnerships with employers to establish workplace preschool education centers.
• Guarantee funding for after-school (3-8 PM) building operation for supervised academic and extracurricular activities.
• Begin redeveloping the University of the District of Columbia into a tuition-free Frederick Douglass University.
An educated populace is a major socioeconomic asset that produces exponential social and economic dividends for both the individual and our entire city-state. The long-term growth of these dividends for the District of Columbia depends on having forward-thinking leadership that enhances this critical asset, and a system of accountable governance that empowers it.
As a mayoral candidate for the District of Columbia, Republican Dennis Moore emphasizes that he takes a more holistic approach in connecting educational excellence to other factors of responsible governance. The 53-year old father, grandfather and Internet news publisher (BOOKSandWORDS.com) say his previous high level public affairs background in federal and D.C. government has given him "broader insight into what actually works in local government."
Moore adds, "If you're not governing based on socioeconomic reality, and setting realistic long-term strategies, then you're corrupting the people's trust in you as a true public servant." Details on his ESP initiative and more are at his campaign website MooreForPeople.com, including a 10-Point Action Plan for socioeconomic empowerment throughout the District of Columbia.