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Faking the Grade: DCPS parents share ideas for change in school system

These mothers all agreed DC Public Schools needs to pay more attention to early childhood education. (ABC7)

The 7 On Your Side I-Team gathered six mothers at a Northeast Washington home, asking for ideas on how to improve DC Public Schools where their children attend classes. When asked if the ABC7 “Faking The Grade” investigation exposures made them more or less concerned about their children’s education, one mother kept her hand down.

“I think the increased openness and transparency with the data coming out is actually a good thing. It's much better to have some of the challenges out in the open,” said Amber Gove, a mother of a Maury Elementary School student.

“I don't want to get into a blame game just on principals. I think it's a whole system,” said Suzanne Wells, a mother of a high school student.

These mothers all agreed DC Public Schools needs to pay more attention to early childhood education.

“I'm going back now with a child in fourth grade who wasn't properly taught vowel sounds and blending sounds," said Andrea Tucker, whose three children attend JO Wilson Elementary School. "By the time he gets to middle school, if I didn't catch it now, if I didn’t address it now, he'd be even further behind."

RELATED: Faking the Grade: Secret recording exposes teacher pressure to 'pass and promote' students

“My biggest concern has been engagement and support systems needed for the teachers,” mother Toy Brown said. "Assistants, aides or teachers because at our school, we don’t have enough people to aide and help them.”

When asked if there was enough attention by DCPS for early grade education, Brenda Holmes, a grandmother taking care of her elementary-aged grandchildren, said, “That foundation should be built when a child starts at five years old, they should learn their reading.”

"If I was to pick one thing to work on in the District, it's probably early childhood, and maybe even earlier than what we've been doing. Starting maybe at the zero to three range,” Gove said.

Another thing these moms want to see is a follow up from DC Public Schools administrators when parents ask for change at public meetings.

“I'm trying to make sure you understand who my child is. How my child learns," said Roni Hollmon, who has a child in high school. "That's my job as a parent. That's my responsibility. When you tell me I can't come, that makes me suspicious."

“Now you don't really have to stay anymore and invest in your school and be a vocal advocate and work to make it work for all the kids because you could go to a charter school,” Wells said.

The mothers debated among themselves about parental responsibility.

“These parents have jobs they have to go to. They're not like me and you. I'm 60 something. I don't work anymore,” Holmes said.

Said Gove, “We tried to start a reading club. We had parents turn us down. I don't want it. ‘My kid is fine. I don't want them identified.'"

Hollmon said she sees a trend in how she feels students are treated by schools as they move from elementary school to middle school to high school.

“Parents tend to engage in elementary, they tend to want to be involved," she said. "When you get to middle school or high school, an interesting thing happens. Some principals don't want you in the school. They don’t want you to volunteer. They don’t want you there at all."

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For more on our Faking the Grade investigation, visit wjla.com/features/faking-the-grade.

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