Traveling to a foreign country to marvel at globally renowned landmarks and see how people live in different parts of the world is merely a dream for most of our nation’s public school children.
However, the public school district of Washington D.C. plans to spend millions of dollars to help make this dream a reality for 400 eighth-and-11th-graders that attend various schools in the nation’s capital. According to the Washington Post, the D.C. public school system has launched the DCPS Study Abroad Program.
The first 18 students to participate in the program was a group of eighth graders. They got the chance to go to the nation of Costa Rica last month. All students who are able to participate in DCPS Study Abroad will do so free of charge. Their passports and Visas will also be paid for.
Aylia Black, 13, was one of the D.C. public school children who was able to make the trip this past June. Black told the Washington Post in an interview that she enjoyed the fresh air in Costa Rica. “I could breathe better,” she said. Black will be attending Washingon’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts when she starts school again this fall.
The students were able to stay in Costa Rica for an entire week. All of the students who recently interviewed with The Post talking about the Costa Rican trip had a lot of great things to say about their experiences. Kaya Henderson, the Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools has been envisioning the dream of sending children in her district to foreign countries for quite some time.
“I’ve been dreaming of this program my whole entire life. To have the ability to make it a reality is the ultimate,” Henderson said in an exclusive interview with The Post. Henderson has been Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools for five years. However, she just recently announced that she intends to step down from her position in September.
This story may sound great, but there are some staunch critics of this program. One of the program’s opposers is an online publication called EAGNews.org. Victor Skinner, a columnist for EAG News wrote an article, which excoriated the DCPS Study Abroad Program. The article was published on July 5th.
“The reality is, however, that children in D.C.’s public schools are not mastering standardized tests, or even basic academics,” Skinner wrote.
“Instead of focusing more on education basics like math and English, district officials are pinning their hopes of free trips abroad to lift student achievement, though it’s unclear how the trips will help raise student scores,” he went on to write.
Giving young public school students who haven’t traveled outside their city the opportunity to travel abroad is a great idea. The District school board could put in place a merit-based system where students earned this privilege by improving their academic achievement. Such a policy would hush critics like Skinner and EAG News.