A letter to the future DCPS student

By Junior Associate: Madeline Soskin

We’re working for you.

When you are a student in 2017, you will be able to read, proficiently. You will be proficient in math, no matter what school you will attend. You will graduate, regardless of race or native language. You will not have to test your luck in a lottery to go to a better school, for you, future DCPS student, already attend the best. 40/40 schools will be a struggle of the past, and though you may not like the uniform you wear or the fact that you have to take math class, you will enjoy school, future DCPS student, because we are working for you.

By “we”, I mean all of us. Of course, you can start at the top- thank Arne Duncan for his commitment to you. Thank Chancellor Henderson- for making you laugh and work harder, thank her for seeing that you needed her to “go beyond z”, for setting goals that required uncomfortable conversations and sweeping elephants out of the room, rather than under the rug.

By “we”, I mean the Chiefs. Future DCPS student, you have a strong team of Chiefs working for you. From Jason Kamras’ motivating stories to Dr. Beers’ incredible balancing act, you are lucky with Chancellor Henderson’s draft choices. Thank them, when you can.

“We” continues. Directors and managers, principals, coordinators and supervisors of all levels, please, thank them. Thank your principal for coming to work everyday; running your school is not easy. You will likely never meet the managers and supervisors I am thinking of, but you feel their presence every day. Thank Margot Berkey, she is responsible for the pencil bag in your backpack, the afterschool program that engages you mentally, feeds you, gives you a safe place to stay while the rest of your world may remain a frightening or uncertain place. You may not think about the basketball you get to play with or the book you get to read, but Margot is, and for that, you are lucky.

“We” is your teachers. Future DCPS student, thank your teacher. You are so incredibly lucky to have the best and the brightest, passing their knowledge of content and the world onto you. Maybe not by 2017, but soon, teaching will regain the credit it deserves as the hardest, most important job in the world. We are choosing to work for you, every single day.

I, too, am “we”. A UELIP, an intern, a college student. I am working for you. My first week at DCPS, I drove from summer school site to summer school site, dropping off packs of paper and pencils, stickers and whiteboard markers. Why? Because you needed them. Because without them, you would not write, you would not use the whiteboard. I am from Minneapolis, Minnesota, far from Minnesota Avenue. Future DCPS student, you opened my eyes to a world different than my own, and for that, I want to thank you.

Your educational experience may not be perfect. In fact, I hope it is not. I hope you procrastinate too long so you know learn the importance of a deadline. I hope you pursue a subject that you are not the best at, so you know how to persevere in the world of academics. I hope you stay humble during the college process or career hunt, whichever path you may choose. But above all, I hope you stay thankful for the world class education which you have received.

Future DCPS student, we are working for you. To make the schools a better place, to make the capital commitments realities and to make your life chances the best that they may be, regardless of race or zip code.

Today, we are not close. We must greatly accelerate our improvements if we continue to claim to be working for you. Even when you are in school, we will still have a long way to go. Education is dynamic, we can always do better.

We are working to do better, for you.

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