DC Councilmember Elissa Silverman on Education

I first met Councilmember Elissa Silverman as she spoke with DC Public School seniors on February 25 at the One World Education College and Career Writing Fair.  She was one of the judges for the seniors as they gave their 30-second elevator speech in front of their topic posters. Silverman was in multiple deep conversations with seniors who were sharing their arguments and evidence about the topics on which they had just given a four-minute presentation.

I caught up with Councilmember Silverman the other day and we talked about her views on education.

“The point that is really driven home for me time and again is how much residents want their government to perform well in helping them reach their life goals. I’ve often heard from parents about the school budget. They feel they are making an investment in the school and they want the school, in turn, to create opportunities for their children,” said Silverman.

A lot of our neighbors in MD and VA have excellent schools that have attracted some DC residents. “I went to public schools in Baltimore.” Silverman continued. “I can speak to the fact that having socio-economic, racial, language, and family structure diversity enriches the classroom. But we need to have high performing public schools. It is key to our success for building a vibrant city and keeping our families here. We don’t want our residents to speak with their feet after they have children.”

DC is seeing increased enrollment in its public and charter schools, and Silverman says this shows there are many families who “want to stay, but they need an option that works for their child and their family. No matter where you live in the city, we need to make sure you have a great public education option."

“Addressing poverty is a big factor. This includes funding our housing programs, do our kids have a safe place to go home to, can they get a good night’s sleep, do they have food security so they can perform well the next day?" says Silverman.

“We also need to put adequate funding toward having a high performing and engaged group of teachers who feel supported in the classroom. We need to meet students where they are and move them as quickly as possible to success, but don’t punish the teacher for where the student is. They just can’t always bridge that gap in one year.”

Silverman feels that having sound fundamentals−reading, writing, computer literacy, and critical thinking−all lay the foundation for a student’s future success. “Some of our schools do this very well, but what really needs attention is closing the achievement gap so where you live is not such a factor for a student’s success.”

She was impressed with her experience at the College and Career Writing Fair. “There is a misperception that writing should be easy. It is actually really hard−but being able to communicate your ideas is a critical skill no matter what profession you end up pursuing and no matter where you live.”

Add new comment