For many Ward 8 families in the District of Columbia, finding the best school for your child can be a challenging endeavor. Great schools that go above and beyond are rare in many neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River. On the whole, DC has experienced an educational renaissance with significant progress in both the traditional public and public charter school systems. Many schools are realizing groundbreaking achievements. However, we are still far from equal access to great schools across all eight wards of the District. Families should not have to decide between a failing neighborhood school and sending a child across town for a decent education. Every community deserves excellent educational opportunities in their neighborhood.
Education reform has pushed our city to break new ground in ways that weren’t imaginable many years ago, and it hasn’t come easy. As a native of the District, I look back on my childhood educational experience and understand how my mother and grandmother wanted something different for me.
I grew up in an underserved community in the Northeast section of town. My high school was what we called a school-within-a-school, a separate academy from the main school that focused on finance and business studies. I was one of the lucky few to gain this incredible educational experience that taught me many valuable life skills, like business finance and how the laws in DC work. These skills stayed with me and opened the doors to more choices as I grew into an adult. But I remember, even as a teen, wondering why my friends and family in other parts of the city were not having the same experience. Some didn’t feel challenged to reach higher because all they were accustomed to was sitting at a table with worksheets until the end of the class with no direction or motivation to learn. Others ended up dropping out of school, which lead down a path of despair and no guidance on how to thrive in today’s world.
Families in DC must navigate a series of inequitable hits and misses each school year. The unbalance is daunting, especially if you live in Wards 7 & 8, the poorest parts of the city. A recent study found that children in the District are the most disadvantaged in the country when it comes to education and economic well-being. This is a challenge many schools have to grapple with, especially in underserved areas. One-size-fits-all approaches are not only outdated, but they have proven to leave many children on the sidelines. There is no better moment in our city than now for competent, bold, educational leadership to bring big ideas to reality in our communities that need it most.
That’s why I’m proud to have Rocketship come to Southeast DC in the great Ward 8. As an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner who represents a neighborhood blocks away from the Rocketship’s new school in Woodland Terrace, and the Chairman of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8B, it is my responsibility to ensure the needs of every resident in the area are met. That means supporting excellent, transformative schools that go above and beyond the one-size-fits-all method of educating our children. We must be bold in empowering our parents, building up great teachers and capturing the imagination of our communities to make everyone believe once again that you can provide your child with a high quality education.
No more status quo. No more carrying the burden of sending your child across town to achieve what should be available in your own backyard.
In April of this year, I had the pleasure to visiting Rocketship Nashville Northeast Elementary in Tennessee. I was thrilled to see in person how they built an environment that truly invested each child in their own learning. Teaching a child at such an early age to take ownership of their own future is remarkable. I know the kids and families in Ward 8 will need this ownership to take on the challenges in our communities.
Since becoming a public servant, my motto has been “Change from the Ground UP.” It brings me much comfort to know Rocketship’s approach to education reform is Rethinking Elementary School from the Ground UP. It underlines the urgency for Rocketship’s model to be in Ward 8 for today’s needs and tomorrow’s opportunities.
Anthony Lorenzo Green is a third generation Washingtonian, living in the Fort Stanton community in Ward 8. Lorenzo is the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for Single Member District 8B04, representing over 2,000 residents in the Fort Stanton and Hillsdale communities. He serves as Chairman of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8B and Sergeant-at-Arms at the Fort Stanton Civic Association. Lorenzo is also a member of the Interim Consumer Utility Board.