DC charter board develops new standards for alternative schools

- The D.C. Public Charter Schools Board has adopted a new policy to help the board evaluate the performance of alternative schools, or those that primarily serve students at high risk of academic failure (WaPo, 2/24)

Evaluating such schools has bedeviled charter school authorities across the country because of the tension between acknowledging the difficulty in serving students with such profound challenges and making excuses for schools’ poor performance.

“You have to have a way to distinguish between schools that are doing a good job and turning kids’ lives around and those that are just collecting public monies,” said Nelson Smith, a charter expert who headed a national working group tasked with studying how alternative charter schools can and should be judged.

- A previously unreleased audit of D.C.’s Tuition Assistance Grant program, which helps D.C. students pay for college tuition at schools outside the District, suggests that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education can’t account for millions in spending. (WaPo, 2/23)

- As High Schoolers Wait For College Notices, D.C. Fights To Get Students To Apply (WAMU, 2/24)

HOUSING | WRAG and the Aspen Institute recently co-hosted an event focused on impact investing and affordable housing. The national housing experts on the panel offered a number of good lessons learned for foundations considering entering the impact investing space. (Daily, 2/24)

Related: A video of this event can be viewed here.

HOMELESSNESS | Over in the other Washington, a group is taking an interesting approach toward ending chronic homelessness – building a community of tiny houses. (NY Times, 1/19)

VETERANS | Report: Military efforts to prevent mental illness ineffective (USA Today, 2/20)

YOUTH | After Fairfax County student deaths, a renewed focus on mental health (WaPo, 2/24)

AGING | To help meet the goal of making the District an “age-friendly” city by 2017, D.C. is conducting an in-depth survey of practically every block of the city to determine what issues need to be addressed to meet this goal. (DCist, 2/21)

HEALTHCARE | Maryland has achieved its health insurance enrollment goal, thanks to a research error (WaPo, 2/24)

TRANSIT | More delays for the Silver Line. (WTOP, 2/21)

- The D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation is conducting a survey of the city’s youth workers to learn more about their training and professional support needs. More information and the survey are available here.

- The Community Foundation for Prince George’s County is hosting two tours to local high schools to examine successful practices to prepare students to be college and career ready. More information is available here.

It’s been over a week and it still feels like the entire internet is obsessed with House of Cards. The blog Ghosts of DC looks at the history of some of the places included in the opening segment – like this liquor store on North Capitol Street.

- Rebekah

Affordable housing concerns in Alexandria…2 percent funding increase for D.C. schools…Budget cuts will impact libraries in Prince George’s County [News, 2.15.13]

- Residents of the Beauregard area of Alexandria are protesting the city’s plans to redevelop the area, citing concerns that low-income residents will be pushed out of the neighborhood when the current supply of affordable housing is demolished. (Examiner, 2/15)

- Prince George’s County is supporting Enterprise Community Partner’s application for $4 million in state funds for foreclosure aid. The group would use the funds to help developers upgrade foreclosed homes in the county and then sell them as low-income rental housing. (Examiner, 2/15)

CHILDREN & YOUTH | Ed Davies, executive director of the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, and board chair Robert Bobb were on the Kojo Nnamdi Show at noon today. If you missed it, the show will be available here.

- Mayor Vincent Gray has announced that he is seeking a 2 percent funding increase for DCPS and charter schools. (Examiner, 2/15)

- Teach for America Founder Kopp Departing as CEO (Chronicle, 2/14)

BUDGETS | The $152 million budget deficit in Prince George’s County may mean that the funding for libraries and other county services may take a big hit. (WaPo, 2/15)

DISTRICT | D.C. residents: here’s something cool to distract yourself with for a few minutes.

The Canadian parliament is really outdoing Congress these days on the emergency preparedness front.


Prince George’s County to create health enterprise zone…Opposition to proposed DC graduation requirements…Grim prediction for 2013 giving [News, 1.25.13]

- Prince George’s County will get over $1 million from the state to create a health enterprise zone in Capitol Heights. The funding lasts four years, and will allow the county to employ a number of physicians, dentists, nurses, and community health workers in an effort to address the area’s poor health outcomes. (Examiner, 1/25)

- The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region reflects on the impact of the Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative’s investments in the region’s healthcare workforce. (CFNCR, 1/25)

EDUCATION | DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson and a number of school leaders are opposed to proposed changes to high school graduation requirements put forth by the DC State Board of Education. (Examiner, 1/25)

TRANSIT | Experts: Funding $26b Metro plan would be difficult (Examiner, 1/25) So quick to dash our dreams!

- A new study shows that young donors are more focused on nonprofit results, creating impact, and advancing causes compared to their parents. (Chronicle, 1/25)

- Giving Will Barely Rise in 2013, Forecast Predicts (Chronicle, 1/24) According to this one forecasting company, it will be one of the worst years for fundraising in 50 years (!).

- Changes to the Combined Federal Campaign proposed by the Office of Personnel Management has raised concerns that it could dramatically reduce contributions. (WaPo, 1/24)

- Here’s an interesting take on the return on investment in developing future nonprofit leadership, and the expensive unintended consequences of not investing in it. (SSIR, 1/24)

- The D.C. statehood bill has been re-introduced in the Senate. (DCist, 1/25) I’m sure that $26 billion revamping of the Metro system has a better chance of success than this.

- Jim Graham ends effort to join Youth Trust board (WaPo, 1/24)

- During a seasonally appropriate weather event later today, it’s going to snow a whole one inch. It’s a good thing the region is “bracing” for it. (WTOP, 1/25)

In this woman’s defense, I’m sure this would have been a great Johnny Cash song.


Maryland ranks number one in student improvement over the last two decades [News, 7.17.12]

EDUCATION | A Harvard University study ranked Maryland number one in the country for student improvement since 1992. Virginia came in at number 10. (Examiner, 7/17) D.C. wasn’t included in the study.

HIV/AIDS | Yesterday the FDA approved Truvada,  a drug that prevents HIV infection, for individuals at high risk of contracting the disease. (WaPo, 7/17)

- The Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation has made $2.5 million in grants to 77 youth-serving summer programs this year, and has strengthened their grant approval processes after the Harry Thomas, Jr., scandal. (Examiner, 7/17)

- Judith Sandalow, executive director of the Children’s Law Center, writes about the need to focus resources on preventing teen pregnancies in the District. (Huffington Post, 7/12)

Forbes has an interview with Eva Blum, head of the PNC Foundation, about it’s work supporting early childhood education initiatives. (Forbes, 7/17)

ENVIRONMENT| Analysis: Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Milestones Are A Mixed Bag (WAMU, 7/16)

DISTRICT | Fun fact: Yesterday marked the 222nd anniversary of the day Washington became the nation’s capital. (DCist, 7/17)

These folks in Turkish mountainside were tweeting way before it was cool.


Out-of-school time funding has declined 44 percent…CareFirst to give $8.5 million for patient-centered medical homes…The origin and history of HIV explored [News, 2.28.12]

YOUTH | The DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation commissioned Susie Cambria to conduct a budget analysis of the District’s out-of-school time funding. The two main findings aren’t good (Susie Cambria, 2/27):

The first is that approved gross funding for OST has declined 44% between FYs 2009 and 2012. The second is that there is no citywide, planned system for out-of-school time services.

- Do we really value our children 44% less now than in 2009? (Full Report)

- D.C. youth funding, beset by scandal, has dwindled (WaPo, 2/24)

DISTRICT | Here’s a recap of yesterday’s D.C. Council hearing about how Harry Thomas used the Trust to steal city money for his personal use. (WaPo, 2/28)

HEALTH | CareFirst BlueCross Blue­Shield has announced $8.5 million in grants to a dozen safety-net clinics in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to strengthen a coordinated primary-care approach focused on prevention and comprehensive care (WaPo, 2/28):

Over the next three years, the funded programs are expected to treat as many as 66,000 patients with costly chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure…Clinics were asked to submit proposals and were chosen based on how well they could coordinate care for the most needy patients.

HIV/AIDS | The Post has an absolutely fascinating and tragic historical look at the role of colonialism in the origin and spread of the HIV epidemic. It began in Cameroon, around the turn of the last century, when a hunter killed an infected chimpanzee for food (WaPo, 2/28):

Without “The Scramble for Africa,” it’s hard to see how HIV could have made it out of southeastern Cameroon to eventually kill tens of millions of people. Even a delay might have caused the killer strain of HIV to die a lonely death deep in the forest.

EDUCATION/JUVENILE JUSTICE | Lots of important articles to read today, including this one about how two District students have overcome homelessness and criminal records on their way to graduation. (WAMU, 2/28)

POVERTY | In response to yesterday’s article about the decline in youth homelessness, the City Paper cautions that the data cited is three years old. “[T]he positive trends being reported now on concentrated poverty could already be history.” (City Paper, 2/28)

I need an opinion. I feel that Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a terrifying, borderline sadistic movie. The Oompa Loompas are creepy and vindictive, and Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka is a bipolar maniac. Others here at WRAG love the movie and think it is a fun kids flick. They are wrong, but what do you all think?

Also, for those of you who saw The Artist, I hope you’ll appreciate how clever this Sesame Street tweet is. Be sure to click on the picture link.


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