Drink and Eat to Support DC Public Schools

DC Public Education Fund Event Set for Oct. 25

The DC Public Education Fund will be celebrating public school teachers in the District by hosting a special happy hour for teachers on Oct. 25 at Penn Social – a new, 13,000 square foot venue in Penn Quarter in Northwest Washington.

Attendees are encouraged to donate $5 to the organization or school supplies in order to enjoy an evening of free games and happy hour specials. Proceeds from the event will help the DC Public Education Fund, which works to accelerate high achievement in D.C. Public Schools (DCPS).

“Students achieve when they have the tools to succeed,” says Rebecca Spivy, a member of the DC Education Fund’s Young Professionals Committee.”By providing teachers with additional supplies, they are better supported and can keep their focus on teaching and learning. It is the YPC’s way of supporting D.C. teachers.”

Created in November 2007, The DC Public Education Fund works with DCPS and the philanthropic community to support strategic reform. Headed by Mark D. Ein, the mission of the DC Public Education Fund is “to support effective teaching and high achievement in every classroom, in every school, in DC Public Schools.” The Education Fund’s goal for the 2012-2013 school year is to raise $100 million dollars in support of DCPS

The Education Fund’s website lists several accomplishments including being instrumental in DCPS launching a teachers’ contract that rewards teachers for performance over seniority. According to Education Week, the contract was funded with $64.5 million dollars in funds provided from the Broad, Arnold, Walton and Robertson foundations. The contract involves several changes from the previous contract between the teachers union and the city. These changes include increasing teachers’ maximum pay to $146,000, allowing school principles to reject faculty they do not want and determining layoffs by merit and not seniority.

In addition to the teachers’ contract, the Education Fund also provided financial support for IMPACT, DCPS’s assessment system for school-based personnel. In 2008, the performance of DCPS students was rated last among all large urban school districts in reading and writing on the Assessment of Education Progress.  Identifying a relationship between teachers and student progress, DCPS created a new system to evaluate teachers.

Fight for Children, a D.C. non-profit, awarded the Education Fund $250,000 to support the launch of IMPACT. In 2010, 16 percent of teachers received a “highly effective” rating and staff identified as “ineffective” were fired. After the evaluation, teachers received information about how they could improve in specific areas.

D.C. Public School Chancellor Kaya Henderson believes the Education Fund has benefited DCPS.  “DCPS would not have been able to accomplish some of our signature reform initiatives to date without private support. Philanthropy has allowed us to be innovative, to push forward reform in tough financial times and to leverage public dollars more strategically,” Henderson says.

In June 2012, Catherine Townsend was appointed the new president and chief executive director of the Education Fund. Townsend has 24 years of fundraising experience and most recently was the Senior Advisor at Townsend Public Affairs. “I am honored to lead a dynamic team dedicated to bringing private philanthropy to support the priorities of D.C. Public Schools,” Townsend says. “As both a committed D.C. resident and the parent of four DCPS students, I am passionate about our schools continued progress, and I’m optimistic that the Education Fund can effectively help D.C. Public Schools become a leading example of transformation and achievement for public schools nationwide.”

The teachers’ appreciation happy hour will be 5-8 p.m. Oct. 25 at 801 E St. NW andis just one of the many events the DC Public Education Fund conducts throughout the year. The Education Fund will also host A Standing Ovation for DC Teachers to celebrate 1,000 DCPS educators who were rated highly effective on the 2011-2012 IMPACT performance evaluation system. “By highlighting the hard work and daily impact of these educators, Standing Ovation elevates the profile of teachers in the District and engages the wider community in DCPS’ school transformation efforts,”  Spivy says.