Grosso outlines broad approach to education reform

By Michael Alison Chandler, Washington Post, January 15, 2015

D.C. Council member David Grosso (I- At large), the newly appointed chairman of the education committee, outlined a broad approach to education reform this week, involving every agency in the city to help prepare students to learn.

“It’s one thing to say to the teacher, ‘It’s your responsibility to teach, and I think it is. It’s another thing to say to the whole city, ‘It’s our responsibility to put those children into a position where they can learn and they can engage,’” he told a room full of education advocates during an open house Wednesday organized to mark the start of the newly configured committee.

Grosso told the group that when he was 14 years old, his parents got divorced, and his grades in school dropped dramatically. “I was distracted. I had stuff that was going on in my head that needed to be cleared up,” he said.

He asked the group to imagine the difficulties that many students in the District, who live in poverty, experience and the barriers to clearing their minds enough to think about what’s happening in the classroom.

Grosso, elected in 2012, was a member of the two-year-old education committee under the chairmanship of David A. Catania (I-At large). Last month, he was appointed to take on the leadership role following Catania’s departure from the council.

He said the committee will play an oversight role and keep in mind the big picture of how different agencies — including the public libraries, the Department of Transportation, and Department of Health — can work together to improve opportunities for children.

Scores of people came to the event Wednesday afternoon, including city officials and advocates for early childhood education, the arts and adult education.

Grosso introduced his first bill earlier this week to ban suspension of pre-kindergarten children. It’s a bill he first introduced this summer that never came for a vote. It reflects a city-wide report that showed there were 181 out-of-school suspensions for 3- and 4-year-olds in the 2012-2013 school year.