D.C. Schools Celebrate the Henderson Effect
It has been a noteworthy week for D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson. She outlined a comprehensive plan for public schools, received an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Georgetown University, and had six of her schools chosen to receive $4.5 million dollars over three years from Target to improve literacy.
With Mayor Vincent Gray, Henderson announced on April 18 a five-year, five-point plan to make public schools better or, as they put it, "to rebuild the District’s traditional public schools into a high-quality, vibrant system that earns the confidence of the entire community." It is "an effort to dramatically increase student achievement, graduation rates, enrollment and student satisfaction."
“This plan will move us into the District’s next phase of school reform, building on our recent successes and capitalizing on the dramatic population and economic growth our city has seen in recent years,” Gray said. The initiatives are part of D.C. Public Schools' Five-Year Strategic Plan. Called “A Capital Commitment,” the plan helps guide spending and programmatic decisions through 2017.
“These commitments support our goals for the next five years and the promises we have made to the District of Columbia, to our families and our students, and to all our stakeholders to provide the students of this city with a world-class education,” Henderson said. “Behind each of these goals are real, specific financial commitments that will help us build on the momentum we have seen over the past five years and move forward aggressively toward dramatic improvements.”
Over the next five years, D.C. Public Schools has committed to the following five goals:
-- Increase District-wide math and reading proficiency to 70 percent, while doubling the number of students who score at advanced levels of proficiency;
-- Improve the proficiency rates for our 40 lowest-performing schools by 40 percentage points;
-- Increase our high school graduation rate from 52 percent to 75 percent;
-- Ensure that 90 percent of DCPS students like the school they attend; and
-- Increase overall DCPS enrollment.
At Georgetown University on April 23, Henderson, who graduated from its School of Foreign Service in 1992, was in Gaston Hall to get her Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, in front of some teachers from her elementary school as well as family and friends and those from DCPS, Georgetown, Teach For America and the New Teacher Project.
“I stand on this stage today only because of the people sitting here in this room,” she said. “Each and every one of you has directly or indirectly made an indelible impression on my life.”
“The piece of the world that Kaya has chosen to affect is fundamental to the strength, progress, prosperity of our city, country and our interconnected global society,” said John DeGioia, president of Georgetown University. “It's nearly impossible to speak with Kaya about education without understanding that her work is motivated by a deep sense of personal purpose and a clear, poignant set of values.”
Last November, Forbes magazine named Henderson one of the “World’s 7 Most Powerful Educators.”