Monday, May 15, 2017: Whole Child

Whole Child

Monday, May 15, 2017, 5pm
North High School
Sandoval Lecture Hall (B243), 2nd Floor
 

District: Funding Whole Child Initiatives Nice, Not Necessary

 

The DCTA Bargaining Team and DPS officials met last night as part of ongoing contract negotiations to discuss prioritization of programs that support Whole Child initiatives. At issue: whether these needed programs are mandated or merely encouraged.
 

Rachel Sandoval, a teacher at Godsman Elementary School moving to a community/parent liaison position next year, spoke passionately about the need for robust and sustained resources to create an environment where students can grow, learn and thrive.
 

Although she loves teaching, the change in her role will provide her an opportunity to “bridge the gap” between the school and the community, she said.
 

“Liaisons can demystify report cards, academic testing and other things that come home to parents,” Rachel said. “If we explicitly teach our children, why are we not explicitly teaching our parents? Parents are asking for this; why not give it to them?”
 

DCTA’s Whole Child proposal guarantees that the community/parent liaison position and other supports that students desperately need to succeed are continued and expanded. The district’s proposal provides supportive language for these measures but falls short of mandating that funding be allocated for these resources.
 

Concrete Whole Child initiatives proposed by DCTA include such measures as restorative practices resources and training, community/teacher liaisons, full-time in-school nursing and psychological services, physical education and recess mandates as well as other critical programs. DPS Brown Elementary School parent Erika Taylor offered her testimony on why these efforts are mandatory and not luxuries.
 

“As PTA president at Brown I like to say we’re fat and happy,” she said of the support her school receives from parents. “We have a very engaged parent community and business community and we’re going to spend $20,000 at Brown this year. But my question is: Why do we have to do that?”
 

The unspoken answer: Because the resources to provide this support for all schools are simply not guaranteed. Taylor illustrated her point by conducting a brief, but telling, exercise on the importance of physical activity. She asked meeting attendees to take a moment to stretch, move and bend in their seats – making the point that these simple activities can ignite a student’s ability to learn.
 

“Twenty minutes of unstructured physical activity twice a week can improve standardized test scores,” she said.
 

Whole Child programs help to bring these valuable teaching tools into the classroom, as well as provide the tools parents and the community need to ensure that students are gaining the most from their time in the classroom.
 

“We have many schools where the parents would be lucky to raise $200 not $20,000 and if this district believes in equity then we need to make this happen across the district,” said DCTA Executive Director Pam Shamburg. “As a district we need to see that that happens with all of our students because equity is one of our core values.”
 
 

Read the Whole Child proposal here.