Wednesday, April 16, 2014

DC's got a new Ombudsman for Public Education

Last week the DC State Board of Education announced the appointment of the new Ombudsman for Public Education Joyanna Smith.   According to the release,
Smith will oversee the recently re-established Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education, responsible for responding to concerns and resolving complaints, disputes, and problems faced by students and their families in District of Columbia public and public charter schools. As a clearinghouse for addressing concerns, the Ombudsman’s office also will report on trends in issues and complaints, thus helping to improve the delivery of educational services and informing policy.

Submit concerns or complaints via telephone, (202) 741-0888, by email, via email,, or online.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Volunteer for Bike to Work Day

May 16 is Bike to Work Day and folks in Columbia Heights are organizing a pit stop in the afternoon.   If you are interested in helping plan the May 16, 4:00 - 7:00 pm event, attend the planning meeting being held April 23 at 7:30 pm at Mad Momo's (3605 14th St NW, just north of Perry St).   The planning meeting agenda includes event prep and suggestions, solicitation of local businesses for advertisement and prizes, and volunteer opportunities and schedule.   More information is available from Dan Hayes via email,

Information about the entire day:

TA: When Excel is not the best choice

I admit it, I'm a database person.   I grudgingly work with Excel because that's what others like to use.   But there are times I long for a good Access database.   Harlan Luxenberg on When to Use a Database Solution instead of Excel does a terrific job of explaining when a database is better than Excel.

ANC and civic association meetings in Ward 7

A regular part of Ward 7 CM Yvette Alexander's email to community members is a list of regular Ward 7 organization meetings.   The list is below.


Monday, April 14, 2014

The value of evaluation

This campaign season, candidates are all about solutions to problems.   As a problem solver, I'm all for that.   But what I am more interested in is improving outcomes for stakeholders of all kinds (first and foremost residents, but also businesses) based on what works and doesn't―with an accepted tool and process rather than by anecdotal evidence.   If all candidates do is talk about more or less or different, we never get to what really works.

My proposal is to embrace evaluation across the government and government-funded services.   Before adding or subtracting more money, let's look at what works.   Some of this is already being done.   One City Summer Initiative, which has morphed into One City Youth, is all about evaluation.   Take a look at the evaluations of One City Summer Initiative.

And before you jump all over me, this is not directed at a particular candidate or set of proposals.   This is based on years of work in public policy in DC.   And understanding that it's easy to criticize without having all the information.

All I'm suggesting is that we work smarter based on agreed-upon outcomes and evaluation tools.

2014 DC Free Summer Meals Program Sponsor Training

Are you interested in participating in the DC Free Summer Meals Program?   Do you believe you are a part of the solution to feeding children and youth during the long school break?

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is holding a mandatory training for new new and returning sponsors for the 2014 program Wednesday, April 30 from 9:30 am - 1:30 pm.

On the agenda are updates from USDA, a review of site eligibility, site monitoring requirements, and much more.

More information about the training is on the OSSE website in the events calendar item 2014 DC Free Summer Meals Program Sponsor Training.

Not sure being a sponsor is right for your organization?   Contact Elisabeth Sweeting at (202) 724-7628 (office), (202) 368-3009 (cell), or via email,   For immediate response, contact Norma Birckhead at (202) 442-4010.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 poverty guidelines

Mayor Vince Gray's #dcfy15 budget town hall meetings

Fy 2015 Budget Town Hall m Tgs

The wonky side of the budget: Does the budget have to go to the President?

WaPo's Aaron Davis takes on the issue of whether the District's budget must to to Congress via the president or straight through in Warnings of a D.C. government shutdown amid feud over city budget autonomy.   Will Sommer also reports the disagreement in Gray Warns Mendelson of Budget Disaster.

Neither article actually concerns the feds dumping on DC.   Rather, they are about whether the DC government must comply with the Home Rule Act (PDF) or the voters' decision to support budget autonomy via referendum.

The letters from Mayor Vince Gray, CFO Jeff DeWitt, and AG Irv Nathan are below.

mayorgraytomendelsonrebudget autonomy041114

oagopiniorelocalbudgetautonomyact12 040814

OCFO Letter to Chair Mendelson Re Budget Autonomy 4-11-14 by Susie Cambria

Friday, April 11, 2014

Recent #dcfy15 activity on Twitter

I was curious about what people are saying about Mayor Gray's proposed FY 2015 budget so used #tagboard to create this:

The screenshot shows about one-third of the Tweets associated with #dcfy15.   And while the people tweeting have fairly good reach across the city, I was most surprised that so few advocates (individuals and organizations) were using Twitter to share information and ask questions.   The illustration below was generated using Tweet Binder.   You can see how few people are using Twitter for #dcfy15 advocacy, information-sharing, information-seeking, and the like.   This is in sharp contrast to Twitter traffic last year, at least as I recall the activity.   I understand we are only one week into the #dcfy15 budget, so I'm not expecting a huge quantity of Tweets, but ones from more people.


TA: Interviewing youth

If you are a service provider or are interested in youth and their views, then EEE Week: Siri Scott on Conducting Interviews with Youth is a must-read.   The post includes hot tips for planning (including this: "One main decision is whether or not you will need IRB approval for conducting interviews. Even when done for program improvement purposes, it is a good idea to comply with IRB regulations for data practices and protection for youth.") and implementation.

#dcfy15 budget hearing sked updated Apr. 8

The DC Council has updated the FY 2015 budget hearing schedule again.   The latest update is from April 8.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Research on schools, neighborhoods and low-income children

Lawrence F. Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics at Harvard University, has studied the "recent evidence on the efficacy of neighborhood and school interventions in improving the long-run outcomes of children growing up in poor families."   On April 14, Katz will be presenting his interpretations of the data at Harvard University's Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series.   While the event will not be streaming (shame, Harvard!), two of Katz's papers are available online:   Achieving Escape Velocity: Neighborhood and School Interventions to Reduce Persistent Inequality (Roland G. Fryer, Jr. and Lawrence F. Katz) (PDF) and the NBER Working Paper Series Long-term Neighborhood Effects on Low-income Families: Evidence from Moving to Opportunity (by Katz and others) (PDF).

To read more by Katz, go to his page on the Harvard website.

Community event for Child Abuse Prevention Month

Kojo Nnamdi on Q&A Cafe