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Mayor Bowser Celebrates First Day of School and Makes Education Announcements

Monday, August 24, 2015

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, with Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles, DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang, celebrated the start of the 2015-16 school year. Today's activities included announcing the launch of two career academies at H. D. Woodson High School in Ward 7 that focus on engineering and information technology (IT), participating in the "Slow Down" campaign to remind motorists to slow down while students are in school, and visiting Brent Elementary School in Ward 6 and Dorothy Height I. Elementary School in Ward 4.

“We have to take a deliberate approach when it comes to education in the District,” said Mayor Bowser. “Opening two National Academy Foundation Career Academies at H.D. Woodson High School for engineering and information technology was purposeful and is beneficial for our students. Engineering and information technology are two of the highest-wage and highest-demand career fields in the District and we have a responsibility to give our students both their best chance and the best education we can provide.”

These academies will prepare students from Ward 7 for lucrative careers in the areas of engineering and IT. National Academy Foundation (NAF) Academy students focus on coursework, mentorships, and internships to learn about engineering, IT, and other fields. Across the country, students who participate in these career academies have higher high school graduation rates and higher college enrollment rates than their peers. Fifty-two percent of career academy students earn bachelor degrees in four years.

“Strong curriculum has always been part of DCPS’ strategy, but going forward, students will receive the same high-quality learning experience, no matter where they live or go to school,” said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson.

H.D. Woodson High School has seen tremendous progress in the last few years, including having the most improved graduation rates of all DCPS high schools, moving from 44 percent in 2013 to 60 percent in 2014. H.D. Woodson also has a nationally recognized Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program, which placed third in a national contest last year. H.D. Woodson is working to ensure that DCPS graduates are prepared for college and career by providing nine Advanced Placement courses and 23 elective courses this year.

“DCPS has a great deal to be proud of this school year,” said Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles. “DCPS is now home to four new NAF Career Academies. In addition to these two new academies at H.D. Woodson High School, one started this year at Frank W. Ballou Senior High School and another will begin next year at Anacostia High School. These new academies will be highly beneficial to our students and families at H.D. Woodson High School. Initiatives like this and our Cross-Sector Collaboration Task Force will help shape the next chapter of our efforts to improve education in the District.”

The DC Cross Sector Collaboration Task Force will be a two-year effort chaired by Deputy Mayor of Education Jennifer Niles. The Task Force is charged with developing clear and fair recommendations on how to improve the coherence of public education in DC for parents and increase the collaboration across and among public schools to improve effectiveness, efficiency, and student outcomes. The Task Force will focus its efforts on identifying key aspects of education that would benefit from cross-sector – DCPS and public charter schools – efforts. The Task Force will be comprised of between 23-25 members with diverse representation and balanced across sectors, and will meet monthly from October 2015 through July 2017.

Mayor Bowser also participated in the “Slow Down Campaign” today reminding drivers to slow down and keep children safe as they walk to school. The campaign involved driver awareness at visible intersections around the city encouraging drivers to slow down. This morning Mayor Bowser participated at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE and North Carolina Avenue, SE near Brent Elementary School in Ward 6 and this afternoon at the intersection of Arkansas Avenue, NW and Allison Street, NW near Dorothy I. Height Elementary School in Ward 4.

“Providing students in the District with a high class education is a critical priority for me,” Mayor Bowser continued. “What’s also important to me is the safety of our students. It’s necessary that motorists are aware and abide by speed limits in school zones to keep our students safe as they walk to school.”

Today, students from around the District took advantage of the expanded ‘Kids Ride Free’ program. Kicked-off last week, the newly expanded program, allows public school students and public charter school students to ride the bus, DC Circulator, and Metrorail — to and from school, and for school-related activities for free.  Private and parochial school students can also register to receive the Metrobus pass.

To follow the first week of the 2015-16 school year on social media, follow #DCPSRising.