In this special edition of the PAVE Post, we recap and celebrate the success of Twenty Years of Public Charter Schools, a collaborative event with the DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) and their Parent and Alumni Leadership Council (PALC).

On November 17th, parents, students, policy makers, and members of the education community gathered at DC Bilingual PCS to celebrate the 20th anniversary of public charter schools in DC. The evening featured a gallery walk organized by PAVE, which highlighted parent voices from 14 public charter school LEAs. Parents from each LEA shared quotes on their experiences and were honored with gifts from PAVE as special VIP guests.

The event included awards to high-performing parents and community members, including the Advocacy Committee Chair of PAVE's Board of Directors, PCSB PALC member, MySchool DC Parent Advisory Council member, and DC School Reform Now Data Manager, Erika Harrell (featured below). Two other instrumental community members were honored that night - Shirley Toussaint-Greaux, who serves as Friendship Public Charter School Parent Liaison and PAC Secretary, and Vanessa (Connie) Spinner, who serves as Executive Director of Community College Prep, DC’s first adult public charter school East of the River.
Throughout the night, students from Paul Public Charter School and Center City Public Charter Schools performed. Lastly, the event concluded with a panel and question and answer session moderated by Maya Martin, PAVE's Executive Director. The panel featured Daniela Anello, DC Bilingual's Head of School and Parent; Jean-Claude Brizard, Cross & Joftus Partner and Vice-President and Rocketship DC Board Member; Desiree Hoffman, PAVE Board Chair and DC Prep - Anacostia parent; Selma Patillo-Simms, DC International School parent; and Scott Pearson, DC PCSB Executive Director.

You can view and download photos from the event here. If you face difficulties accessing the photos, please reach out to us at!

(Above) PAVE's gallery walk incorporated parent voices from 14 LEAs, highlighting the positive impacts that charter schools have had on families. The posters were arranged throughout the event space and featured parent opinions at the forefront. (Below) Quoted parents and their students enjoyed seeing their names in print and seeing their schools featured.
(Left) The Deputy Mayor for Education, Jennie Niles, presented three awards on behalf of PCSB and PAVE to individuals who have had a notable impact on their public charter school communities: Erika Harrell (pictured) was the recipient  of the 2016 Leadership Award, Connie Spinner was the recipient of the 2016 Merit Award, and Shirley Toussaint-Greaux was the recipient of the 2016 Impact Award.
(Above) Coordinated and moderated by PAVE Executive Director, Maya Martin (left), the panel was comprised of the Chair of PAVE's Board of Directors and DC Prep - Anacostia parent, Desiree Hoffman; DC Bilingual's Head of School and parent, Daniela Anello; DC PCSB Executive Director, Scott Pearson; DC International School parent Selma Patillo-Simms; and Vice President of Cross & Loftus and Rocketship DC Board Member, Jean-Claude Brizard.
Following the first part of the panel, members of the audience offered up education-specific questions, creating a dialogue between the panelists and those in attendance.

At the end of the event, PAVE Board Member and fifth-generation Washingtonian Cecily Miles Slater (Left) provided closing remarks, sharing her experiences as a Ward 5 parent whose children attend BASIS and Capital City. She noted that she comes from a long line of educators who would be proud that her children are getting a great education with dedicated teachers and a strong community benefitting the entire family.
Erika Harrell,
Ward 7 Resident

PAVE's Advocacy Committee Chair and Winner of the 2016 Parent Leadership Award Reflects on Her Path to PAVE

"My mission as a parent is to guide my children to a healthy adulthood where they feel confident and empowered to lead their own lives and grow their communities. My mission as a community activist is to help other families have the option to do the same, by bringing awareness to voices that are often unheard because they are not educators or policymakers."

"I come from a family of educators. For years, it seemed obvious that I too would build a career in teaching. After all, it's in the blood. But life had other plans. After seeing the impact that quality education has on a child's life trajectory and how subjective access can be, I was drawn toward working in education advocacy, serving communities across boundaries, and empowering families to determine the best education for their children. As a parent, educator, and advocate, I know there are few things more important than ensuring children have access to quality education and supporting families as they strive to achieve that goal. Even clearer to me is that an informed and empowered community often times provides the foundation to make those goals feasible.

I was educated in public and private schools alongside brilliant students, some of whom were not recognized for their intellect, but rather their behavior, family dynamic, the colors their friends wore, or the kinds of communities they lived in. Many of them were placed on a different track than me, supported by the school to prison pipeline model. Others, who went in a similar direction as I did, formed the base of my collegiate support. There was no way I could have graduated with two degrees and travelled the globe without them.

I felt the full weight of that truth when I became a mother, particularly when my children were enrolled in school, the first time my child was frustrated with school when he didn't feel challenged, or the moment my child told a stranger out of the blue that he loved his new school.

I'm passionate about school choice because I know first-hand how frustrating it is when parent voice is silenced and children are overlooked because they don't fit a particular model. Years of working as an educator and administrator, as well as a parent advocate for the past three years, has given me insight on just how important parents are to education. From my own experience as a parent, children gain most academically and socially when educators and policymakers work with parents.

Living within and working with marginalized populations has informed my views on how quality education empowers families and communities, something most parents I have met understand. As a committed member of the DC Cross-Sector Collaboration Task Force, Parent and Alumni Leadership Committee, and My School DC, as well as Data Manager for DC School Reform Now, I am honored to bring with me the voices of fellow parents, who have not had the same opportunities to share their hopes, concerns, and expectations for their children, to audiences that can affect the course of their children's lives.

My mission as a parent is to guide my children to a healthy adulthood where they feel confident and empowered to lead their own lives and grow their communities. My mission as a community activist is to help other families have the option to do the same by bringing awareness to voices that are often unheard because they are not educators or policymakers.

This is a chief reason that I joined PAVE and became Advocacy Chair since its inception. After hearing PAVE’s mission, it was clear that I had found an organization of like minds. Parents have a compulsion to stand up for not only their children, but any child within their purview. We know without a doubt that children are unequivocally the key to our future and deserve meaningful long-term support from leadership of every kind - whether they be in classrooms, city hall, or their own homes - if our society stands a chance of evolving into something worthy of our own children someday."

Are you interested in deepening your involvement in your child's education, or participating in an upcoming opportunity to make your voice heard? Reach out to us at for more information about any of the events below!

EdFest 2016:

Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 11am - 3pm
The DC Armory
20001 East Capitol Street SE, Washington, DC 20010

Please come and visit PAVE at EdFest, and explore the city’s many public school options (PK3-12) for your child. Representatives from DC Public Schools (DCPS) and DC public charter schools will showcase their programs. With the launch of the My School DC common lottery application on December 12, EdFest is a timely event to help you make informed school selections for the 2017-18 school year common lottery. EdFest will also feature many free services and fun activities for the whole family:

  • Flu shots for adults, health services for kids and teens, and lots more family fun, games and entertainment brought to you by the DC Department of Health
  • Sports activities for all brought to you by the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, including information about DPR Fun Days, Winter and Spring Break Camps, Cooperative Play, and more
  • Story time with DC Public Library

National School Choice Week:

PAVE at National School Choice Week: Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The nation's largest series of education-related events, National School Choice Week, will be held January 22-28, 2017. PAVE will be hosting opportunities for parents of DC public charter schools to meet and connect with their Councilmembers on January 25, and we would love for you to be involved!

Sign up here for more information, and review a summary of last year's successful events here.

Citizens of the World Charter Schools Small Group Meetings:

Citizens of the World Charter Schools (CWC Schools) are tuition-free schools open to all, committed to serving diverse communities throughout the U.S. CWC Schools aim to develop sophisticated thinkers who master content and have a courageous and compassionate sense of responsibility for themselves and all people. With schools in Los Angeles, New York and Kansas City, CWC Schools is currently working toward a potential D.C. launch in the fall of 2018, as demand and excitement for their model grows.
Beginning in January 2017, CWC Schools will be hosting family and small group meetings to build interest and support for Citizens of the World Washington DC. The purpose of the meetings is to offer parents and community members the opportunity to learn about CWC Schools mission and their efforts to launch an academically rigorous and diverse school in DC.
CWC Schools is committed to building a strong school community, and wants to hear from and partner directly with parents. We encourage you to learn about CWC Schools and how you can be a part of the effort to bring CWC Schools to Washington, DC.
If you are interested in hosting or attending a meeting, please contact Andrea Arroyo, Director of New Site Development and Community Engagement at or (626) 664-0001To learn more about CWC Schools, please visit their website at
Safe Passage Community Survey:

The Office of the Student Advocate's Safe Passage Community and Collaboration Working Group is seeking parent and student input about their experiences with student safe passage. Safe passage is an important issue that impacts all students as they travel to and from school. Parent and family experiences can inform the working group's future priorities around this topic, and we encourage your participation in this process!

The Safe Passage Community Survey is available online here and also downloadable in PDF form here. Completed PDFs can be mailed to:

The DC State Board of Education c/o The Office of the Student Advocate
441 4th St. NW, Suite 723N
Washington, DC 20001

Ward 8 Parent Operator Selection Team (Ward 8 POST):

The Ward 8 POST (Parent Operator Selection Team) is a collective of parents, military, and community, working together to develop an RFP for a new school operator that will be located adjacent to Joint Base Anacostia Bolling. Ward 8 POST is being supported by PAVE and FOCUS DC, along with other community members, to ensure the success of a first-of-its-kind community RFP and selection process for the operator. PAVE strongly encourages interested parents to apply and share your voice. You can complete an application online at http:/ If you have any questions, please contact PAVE’s Director of Community Engagement and Organizing at If you are unable to commit to the Ward 8 POST, you can still contribute your ideas by completing this survey: Ward 8 POST Community Survey.

The Office of the Student Advocate:

The Office of the Student Advocate was established by the Council of the District of Columbia to provide outreach to students, parents, families, and communities regarding public education in the District of Columbia. The Office of the Student Advocate operates a Request for Assistance line Monday through Friday from 9am-5:30pm. Contact them at 202-741-4692 for coaching, resources, and info, and visit their website here.

Additional Upcoming Hearings and Events:

Saturday, December 10, 2016 - "We the People" Ward 8 Community Meeting with Trayon White (Rocketship RISE Academy, 2335 Reynolds Place SE): Come and share your thoughts about the needs of Ward 8 families and join the Education Committee.

Monday, December 19, 2016 - 6:30 to 8:30pm - PCSB Board Meeting (3333 14th Street, NW Suite 210)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at 5:30pm - State Board of Education Public Meeting (One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW, 530S): All students, parents, and educators, and community members are invited to provide testimony at public meetings. Please contact us at for support with writing your testimony.You can find more information and archived transcripts here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at 2pm - Education Committee Meeting (Room 123, Wilson Building)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017 from 5 - 6:30pm - State Board of Education Working Session (One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW, 530S): While working sessions are open to the public, individuals and representatives of organizations are not permitted to speak or participate. However, individuals and representatives of organizations may submit written testimony for consideration by the Board. Please contact us at for support with writing your testimony. You can find more information and archived transcripts here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 from 6 - 8pm - DC Cross-Sector Collaboration Task Force Meeting (Department of For-Hire Vehicles Hearing Room, 2235 Shannon Place SE): The DC Cross-Sector Collaboration Task Force charged with developing a report for the Mayor with 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; this initiative aims to improve effectiveness, efficiency, and student outcomes. You can find more information here.

Saturday, January 28, 2017 at 11am - 3pm - Ward 5 Ed Fair (DC Prep's Edgewood Elementary Campus, 707 Edgewood St NE): The Ward 5 Ed Fair will bring together both charter and DCPS schools, community-based organizations, and government agencies that want to connect with you! Look out for more information in our January newsletter.

Keep in touch! Sign up to join the PAVE listserv here.
Do you have events and opportunities to share with the PAVE network? Email us at to add events to our January newsletter.

PAVE (Parents Amplifying Voices in Education) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that connects, trains, and empowers charter parent leaders to give families in DC a voice and a choice in the vision for education in our city. The goal of PAVE is to create an education system in DC where parents are partners and leaders in developing a diversity of safe, nurturing, and great school options for every child in every ward and community.
Copyright © 2016 Parents Amplifying Voices in Education, All rights reserved.