Staff editorial: Year in Review: Wilson Community exhausted by DCPS’ game of broken telephone


The Beacon Staff

Looking back on everything that has transpired since we began this school year, it seems that 2017-18 must have broken some kind of record for the amount of tumult and chaos it brought.

In December, The Beacon published an article outlining an apparent success: every senior at Ballou High School graduated and was accepted into college in 2017. Later that month, the truth came to light following a WAMU/NPR investigation: one in three DCPS graduates should not have graduated in 2016-17. Based on DCPS policy, they technically should have failed their classes due to excessive unexcused absences.

We watched former Chancellor Antwan Wilson attempt to address this by emphasizing pre-existing attendance policies and regulations for credit recovery. We then watched him resign in the wake of revelations that he had subverted the District’s school lottery system, and we listened as investigations uncovered exactly how widespread residency fraud is in DCPS.

Through a school year full of ups and downs, disconnection between the DCPS Central Office, Wilson administration, teachers, and students as emerged as a roadblock to student welfare.

Following the Ballou attendance scandal and the subsequent attendance crackdown, students encountered grade reductions and failures due to absences for the first time. In December, when these changes were made, some Wilson students were shown a PowerPoint presentation in their first period class, outlining the revamped attendance policy. Some were given a brief rundown of the policy by their teachers, many of whom had just skimmed the presentation before class. Others were given no notice of the change at all.

DCPS and the Wilson administration did not properly ensure that all students were informed of the new policy, leaving students out of the loop and unsure of how the policy enforcement changes would affect them. Confusion abounded, and seniors were faced with the possibility of previously unenforced rules jeopardizing their chances of graduating. The reckless implementation of this policy halfway through the year epitomizes the lack of communication that has continued to leave our student body bewildered.

The trend of poor communication continued with new finals dates and speculation of a change to the class period schedule. Students rearranged work and vacation schedules when, less than a month away from the end of the year, finals were pushed back a week. A petition circulated when there were rumors that Wilson would be switching to a 4×4 schedule next year. Confusion and frustration could’ve been avoided if DCPS’s decisions came earlier and were explained better.  

These are just a few instances of the many times that unclear or delayed information has led to chaos this year. In the absence of information from Central Office or Wilson administration, rumors have become students’ primary news source. This is not sustainable. If a new policy is being considered for Wilson, it is imperative that students, being the ones directly affected by it, are notified, and that the change is fully explained.

We concede that no school district is perfect, that education is extremely demanding and exhausting, and that it’s impossible to perfectly cater to every students’ needs, especially in a year with so many unexpected developments. 2017-18 was a rocky year, but with more communication, we’re hopeful that next school year will run smoother.