Education, Entertainment, We Love Arts

Young Playwrights’ Workshop Presents

Nicole and Morena Writing / Courtesy Young Playwrights' Theater

Nicole and Morena Writing / Courtesy Young Playwrights’ Theater

In their new original play, the Young Playwrights’ Workshop asks the question, “Do people change?” Set on New Year’s Eve, their latest collaborative effort delves into the lives of diverse characters, from a spoiled socialite to a hardworking waiter.

The Young Playwrights’ Workshop is an after-school student theater ensemble and part of the Young Playwrights’ Theater (YPT). The students wrote the play together and will perform it themselves when they premiere Young Playwrights’ Workshop Presents this Monday at the Source Festival.

YPT’s artistic director Nicole Jost leads the after-school workshop. Jost is a local playwright and alumna of YPT’s playwriting program. I talked with her about the show’s evolution and what it means for DC.

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Education, The Daily Feed

Back to School, For Free This Time

Photo courtesy of andradeXcobain
School’s Out
courtesy of andradeXcobain

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to hem jeans, or read Shakespeare, or just explore something new, Knowledge Commons DC might be able to help. KCDC is DC’s floating school, where locals meet all over the city to learn something new for free. They offer sessions once every quarter, including June. This month, they’re also celebrating a year of free education in the city.

DC’s floating school is by no means the only one in the US; but it’s fairly distinct because it doesn’t try to cater to a specific audience of, say, artists or entrepreneurs. The course offerings tend to be more diverse and attract a wider range of people. I, for one, was surprised to see a course discussing human rights awareness listed right next to courses on remixing and office gardening. Now if only we could combine the three…

June’s session is underway, and spots are still available in some of the classes. The instructors will teach you just about anything; but if there’s something missing from the list that you know how to do, you can propose to instruct a course of your own for the next session.

KCDC courses take place in public spaces all over DC, from Metro cars to parks and plazas. See individual course listings for more info.

Fashionable DC, Technology

Geek2Chic Celebrates High-Tech Fashion – For a Good Cause

DC Week 2011: Geek 2 Chic

If you came to the Geek 2 Chic fashion event – where men from the world of technology are dressed up and sent down a runway – expecting amazing makeovers before your eyes, you might be disappointed. After all, many of the amateur models at this charity fundraiser were hardly pocket-protector-sporting hopeless cases when they arrived at the Chevy Chase Bloomingdale’s store on Tuesday. Instead, as hostess Angie Goff mentioned as they strutted confidently along, several of these gentlemen had been previously named to lists like The Hill’s Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill.
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News, The Daily Feed

Gray appoints education, economic positions

Photo courtesy of
‘DC Flag on Bus Stop Crop’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

This afternoon in a press conference at the Reeves Center, Vince Gray announced five appointees to administration positions.  The first two were education-oriented positions, with Gray appointing De’Shawn A. Wright to Deputy Mayor for Education, and Hosanna Mahaley to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s head.  In addition, Gray appointed Rochelle Webb to run DOES, and Gustavo Velasquez and Clarence Brown to continue on at DOHR and the Office on Aging, respectively.

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News, The Features

DCPS Shows First Ever Growth in Enrollment

Photo courtesy of
‘Back to school’
courtesy of ‘ECU Digital Collections’

For each of the previous 39 years, enrollment in the DC Public Schools has declined.  That stopped in 2010.  DCPS announced an enrollment increase this morning in a press conference with Mayor Adrian Fenty and Chancellor Michelle Rhee.  73 of the 168 123 schools (see comments for alteration) in the District are showing an increase in enrollment, and 14 of those have had to add waitlists for the first time in recent memory.

One of the interesting schools that saw an increase in enrollment of 12% was Coolidge High, which is featured on today’s WAMU morning news, along with Dunbar High, for being one of the District’s turnaround projects.  The ventures, conducted along side the Federal Government and private partners, have boosted test scores at the two high schools by 10-20% depending on the test involved.

481 additional pre-K students enrolled this year are a part of the overall percentage increase, which has yet to be released.  DCPS is adamant, though, that K-12 enrollment remains increased over the 2009-2010 school year.

Is this the economy taking effect?  Are parents who’ve lost jobs faced with the prospect of bigger and bigger loans necessary for private education taking their children to the resurgent DCPS?  Perhaps.  We’re not sure what else, beyond improved conditions, represents the shift toward the boost in DCPS.

Life in the Capital, Petworth, The District

We Love: DC’s Public Charter Schools

What would an all Public Charter School system look like?

What would an all Public Charter School system look like?

While I’ve heard the moaning about the DC Public School System since my first days in DC, I never really cared about it. I was a swinging single and my whole goal was to keep away from anything kid-related, though many would say I acted child-like.

But now that I’m soon to be a parent, I am thinking more about my child’s future education, and as a District resident, the schooling options. Looking around, I see a lot of promises broken and lives wasted in the DC Public School system, yet hope with Public Charter Schools.

So I propose a radical change: Let’s ditch the failing public schools for a fully Public Charter School System.

Here we have one of the highest-cost, lowest performing public education systems in the United States, and our city government is expending untold millions of dollars and political capital to fix. The problems are myriad, and all of them, from lack of parental involvement to aimless youth, to an entrenched & bloated bureaucracy, seemingly intractable.

Faced with this boondoggle, parents are desperate for options and have already created a parallel system to educate their children. Over 40% of parents send their children to Public Charter Schools, and I would argue that they are the 40% that care about their child’s education. In addition, Public Charter Schools are doing a better job of educating at less cost. And almost all require greater parental involvement, student motivation, and teacher engagement than public schools.

I know that when my child gets to be school age, they’ll be headed off to a cool bilingual charter elementary school – we now have several schools to choose from in Petworth, some more convenient than others.

So why not take all taxpayer & Gates Foundation money that’s currently going down the public school rathole, and put it towards an all-charter school system? We could save the the DC government a few billion a year and give a better education to the city’s children.

Or look at it another way: could a fully Public Charter School system really be worse than what we have now?