Archive for December, 2011

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill that would ensure that city residents receive priority for new jobs created by municipal financing and development programs.

The District of Columbia Workforce Intermediary Establishment and Reform of First Source and Living Wage Act of 2011, signed on Dec. 21, mandates that all projects funded in whole or in part with District of Columbia funds, or other funds which the District administers, shall provide for increased employment opportunities for District residents.

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A federal judge ruled in November that the Washington, DC, school system has not fulfilled its duty to provide special education services to its eligible preschool-age children, calling for additional future court oversight because of “persistent failure to live up to their statutory obligations, a failure that works a severe and lasting harm on one of society’s most vulnerable populations—disabled preschool children—is deeply troubling to the court.”

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Jobs where people work the most for the least

Truck drivers still work nearly 200 hours annually more than the average American.

The average person in the U.S. works just over 2,000 hours per year, or 39.5 per week, and is paid $37,128 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some occupations, however, require long days and night shifts, amounting to hundreds of extra hours, yet they pay the same or even less than most occupations. 24/7 Wall St. has identified the jobs with the longest hours and the worst pay.Of the nearly 800 job categories listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 48 occupations require at least 2,100 hours annually — roughly 100 more than the national average. Most of these positions also are paid very well, averaging more than $80,000 per year.

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Some officials associated with the District’s public charter schools are lauding an initiative that will streamline the way these schools are evaluated.

The Public Charter School Board, parents and other stakeholders spent almost three years developing the Performance Management Framework (PMF), which will be an evaluation tool to assess and monitor charter school performance. Schools that are rated will fall into one of three tiers. Tier 1 schools will have met standards of high performance; Tier 2 schools are those which fall short of high performance standards but meet minimum overall performance; and Tier 3 schools are those which fall significantly short of high performance standards and show inadequate performance. Tier 3 schools that fall below 20 percent of an established number of points may have their charters revoked.

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The District of Columbia continues to struggle with unemployment rates above the national average despite more jobs than residents. That has D.C. leaders trying to figure out how to better prepare Washingtonians to compete in the job market. Commentator Martha Ross, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, says the city must work to give students alternative.

Unemployment and economic opportunity in the District are both in the news a lot these days.

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What’s Working in Urban Schools

At first glance, it would appear there is little to cheer about with America’s urban schools. Results from the “Nation’s Report card,” released Nov. 1 by the U.S. Education Department, were disappointing: no true narrowing of the black/white achievement gaps. High school graduation rates are shockingly low, especially among the most academically fragile students. Only 47 percent of black males, for example, graduate from high school.

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Mayor Vincent C. Gray and officials from the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) have launched the second phase of the One City • One Hire campaign, which was announced in September, and designed to encourage businesses in the Washington metropolitan area to hire qualified, unemployed District residents.

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D.C. to train more special-ed students to use Metro

D.C. school officials are increasing their efforts to teach special-education students to take Metro to school, as the city tries to cut the $26,000-per-student annual cost of transporting them by bus.

D.C. Public Schools and other city education leaders are identifying students whom they believe can be “trained” to navigate public transportation, and who attend schools that are accessible by bus or train from their homes.

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Is there such a thing as an unacceptably low college graduation rate?

There is seemingly universal agreement in higher education that college completion rates aren’t high enough. Yet it’s difficult to find anyone pointing fingers at a particular college. Lawmakers lament the low graduation rates of students who receive federal Pell grants, the largest source of federal student aid to low-income students. Yet to criticize a college with a large Pell student population and a miniscule graduation rate is thought to be bad form.

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For D.C. students, a tale of two call centers

When something goes wrong, parents of D.C. special-education students dial the call center.

The call center is housed in the Office of the State Superintendent for Education’s Department of Transportation, and handles 330 calls a day — about one call for every 11 students who the city buses to school, because their neighborhood school can’t provide the special-education services the student requires.

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