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Knocking on doors to welcome new parents

If you have a child entering a DCPS preschool or pre-K classroom this month, don't be surprised to see someone at your door this weekend with information about the school year that begins on Aug. 23. The school system is launching a two-day canvass of the 5,600 families enrolled in early childhood programs to provide basic information, including forms for required health screening and immunizations.

Individual public and public charter schools routinely canvass neighborhoods to build bridges to families. But it's unusual to see an entire school district mobilize. DCPS plans to have 85 central office staff and volunteers fan out across all eight wards.

"We're going the extra mile this weekend. We want to make sure our youngest students get the strongest possible start," said Miriam Calderon, director of early childhood education.

Early childhood has been a priority for DCPS, and one of the few growth areas in systemwide enrollment. The District has added 40 new preschool and pre-K classrooms across 31 schools to serve an additional 686 students.

Part of the objective this weekend will be to make sure that early childhood parents know the plan for the first week of school, which officials are calling "transition week." Children whose last names begin with letters A through K are asked to come on Monday and Tuesday; those with last names L through Z should come Wednesday and Thursday. Everyone is due on Friday. The staggered start is supposed to allow extra time for a more careful assessment of the children's needs and to allow teachers, kids and parents a better opportunity to connect.

For more information on the beginning of school, check the DCPS website here.

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By Bill Turque  |  August 13, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
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Nice but it this another Rhee outreach to gather votes for Fenty?

Posted by: bnew100 | August 13, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse know it.

Maybe if this tactic was used in previous years I would have thought otherwise. Now, one thing I love about my Childs school is that we have the first family aka parent/teacher conference BEFORE school begins. We (mom, dad and kid) sit down with the teacher and lay out what the expectations are for the year.

I think that this strategy should be duplicated in all DCPS and Charter schools.

Now if the above strategy doesn’t garner parents then I think that door-to-door should be the next step.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | August 13, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I think this is a great idea. The more positive outreach to parents' homes the better.

To me this is a much better approach than some of the superficial DCPS outreach efforts that seem contrived in order to make the appearance that DCPS is concerned about getting parents involved.

Let's follow this up with DCPS community meetings this year that are announced with enough advanced notice and that are run with the true intention of soliciting parent/community input.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | August 13, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Did you do the arithmetic, Bill? 5600 families implies that one of 8 DCPS families has a child in pre-K or pre-school. Since teacher / student ratios for these ECE years are high, one in six teachers and aides would be assigned to these kids. Is that really going on in DCPS?

Posted by: incredulous | August 13, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm with letsbereal2. This is real family outreach and it should happen system-wide. Let's hope this is a first step in that direction.

Posted by: 4kids | August 13, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm with letsbereal2. This is real family outreach and it should happen system-wide. Let's hope this is a first step in that direction.

Posted by: 4kids | August 13, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

letsbereal2 is a back-stabbing, negative b!tch. I don't trust a word out of her mouth. Someone please tell her her clothes are WAY too tight.

Posted by: alertcitizen1 | August 13, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

You referenced many schools opening and adding EC classes but what about the number that were closed this past year? I know that the Head Start program took some serious blows this year and had to close centers. Do the number of additional classes change when you factor in the classes and programs that were closed?

Posted by: rosenjulia | August 14, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, let's hope this is a sign of a fundamental shift in DCPS and they start doing real parent outreach.

We'll see soon if DCPS is sincere about these efforts or if it just about keeping the enrollment numbers up at the early years since there has been no real improvement in stopping the exodus of students in the later years.

Posted by: StudentAdvocate | August 14, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: shoestrade00 | August 14, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse


Why so hostile when a person acknowledges something positive? Calling me a "back-stabbing negative b..." is an extremely hateful and sexist comment.

I know there is a lot of virulent hostility by some against anyone who dares to express criticism of Rhee but you took it a little too far.

FYI- I think you must have my identity wrong. Not only don't I wear my clothes tight, I often wear my clothes one or two sizes larger than I am. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | August 15, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"Early childhood has been a priority for DCPS, and one of the few growth areas in systemwide enrollment."

Not much thanks to Rhee.She has been too busy scheming on how to fire people. As I recall it, Vince Gray was the impetus behind universal I not correct?

Posted by: vscribe | August 15, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Vince Gray did not do anything for the pre-k or preschool initiative. Fenty's administration is responsible for adding 2261 pre k slots. Vince Gray would like you to also believe that he made UDC create the first community college. The only thing we know for sure about Vince Gray is that he favors S Curl activator over a wet set. No seriously, Gray is a joke, when he was the head of DHS he dam near bankrupted the city, caused the agency to go into federal receivership, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in fines for not following federal laws.

Posted by: AmandaBroadnax | August 16, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

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