February has already brought two innovations to DC education, with particular benefits for residents East of the River and in other disadvantaged local communities. First, the DC City Council has teamed up with DC Public Libraries for an exciting new program, called Books from Birth, which provides DC kids with a free book each month from birth until they turn five. The goal is to get children reading as early and often as possible in order to close the "achievement gap" that many disadvantaged children face when starting school. Parents or caregivers can register their children here; books are mailed monthly and the kids can keep the books (and read them as often as they want). Second, and in another effort to address the achievement gap—as well as the "summer learning loss" that many kids experience over summer vacation—DC will implement an extended school year for ten schools starting this fall. The Post reports that the ten elementary and middle schools, nine of which are in Wards 7 and 8, will have 20 extra days added to their school years. The goal is to replace a summer-break model with a year-round model. On extra added days, kids will have opportunities for extra learning both in core subjects and in "specials" such as arts, languages, and physical education. Mayor Bowser praised the initiative, pointing out that by the time the students reach eighth grade, they will have received an extra year's worth of instruction. DC officials hope that the added learning time will help level the playing field, giving children in disadvantaged neighborhoods more opportunities to learn and thrive.
By Sierra Blanchard-Hodge Timothy Farrell, volunteer writer for the DC newspaper Street Sense, is not your average urban columnist. His youthful exploits may appear to be … unusual—he recalls, for example, being hustled into the back of a military truck by army personnel during an evacuation in Rhodesia. But despite these experiences, Tim had a fairly privileged upbringing, and he now seeks to use his education and legal expertise to give back to the community. (More…)
Attorneys from Arnold & Porter, along with their investigators and staff, recently won acquittals for clients in two separate, pro-bono cases. These terrific results ensured that two clients were able to celebrate the holidays at home with their families. In one of the cases, Counsel Mary Kennedy and Associate Sean Hennessy (on the right in the photo) represented a man who was indicted (along with two other codefendants) for aggravated assault while armed. After a two-day trial, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on all charges—after deliberating for less than an hour. In the other matter, Mary and Associate Alex Berrang (on the left in the photo) represented a young man charged with first-degree murder while armed (as well as other firearm offenses). After a four-day trial, the jury acquitted their client on all counts. In each case, the jurors praised the defense team and cited the attorneys’ passion for their clients as a factor in the verdicts. (More…)
Leandra Carrasco joined us in December as Administrative Director. We’re delighted that Leandra will be using her considerable skill and enthusiasm to support pro-bono and public-interest lawyers in their work. With a background in community outreach and development, Leandra has always wanted to use her law degree to promote social justice. She received an Advocate for Justice scholarship to attend the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law and graduated magna cum laude. For Leandra, law school had two highlights: The first was completing over 750 hours of pro bono legal work at the Community Development and HIV/AIDS Family Law clinics. The second was working for the school’s founder, Edgar Cahn, as a teaching assistant and service coordinator for the mandatory Law & Justice class—which requires all 1Ls to complete 40 hours of law-related community service. (More…)