Code for DC launches OurDCSchools.org, an open government platform for proposed school policy

ourdcschools

Parents, students and other members of the public can now easily see the effect of a href=”http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-releases-proposed-school-boundaries-and-far-reaching-student-assignment-policies/2014/04/05/368521e0-bc46-11e3-96ae-f2c36d2b1245_story.html”>new proposals for elementary school boundaries and far-reaching student assignment policies in the District of Columbia using a civic app called Our DC Schools.
The new website, built by volunteers at from Code for DC, a local open government group, makes it easier for the public to understand how important changes to the boundaries of DC school districts would affect a given address, rate the assignment policies proposed by the DC government, and forward that feedback to the Deputy Mayor for Education.

According to Code for DC, their team will published all responses collected, after the street addresses are excluded, on OpenDataDC, “a public catalog of civic data built by and for the people of Washington.”  The group will continue to collect responses until mid-May 2014, sharing them with the Boundary Review Advisory Committee, the relevant government entity entrusted with working on the proposals. You can find more a bit more context about the app and the issues at WAMU.org.

Our DC Schools builds upon the data behind the Washington Post’s interactive news app, which also enables people to perform a similar geographic search, and then goes one step further than the newspaper, giving people tools to rate proposed changes and send it on to local government.

 

code-for-dc-logoAccording to Code for DC, the idea for the civic app came from Chris Given, when he saw how much data was available regarding the issue

“I attended a public working group meeting at Dunbar High School and while I was impressed by the dedication of the Deputy Mayor for Education and DC Public Schools staff, I was just bowled over by the scale of the challenge of getting meaningful feedback from everyone these policies affect,” said Given, in a statement. “I wanted to create an on-ramp for engaging with a really complex issue.”

In personalizing and visualizing the school district changes, unpacking these proposals for assignment and connecting feedback concerned citizens affected by the proposals to policy makers at local government, these volunteers are demonstrating how open government data and the World Wide Web can inform residents and stimulate citizen engagement in matters of great public interest.

Notably, the civic app came to life through a collaboration between Code for DC and the office of the district’s Deputy Mayor for Education (DME). It’s an effort to use modern technology to better engage the people of DC in their government.

“The Our Schools DC app is an example of what can be achieved when government collaborates with citizens to find solutions to common problems. In addition to providing valuable information, it’s a means of public engagement that will help city leaders better meet the educational needs of communities throughout the district,” said Traci L. Hughes, Director of the District of Columbia Office of Open Government, in a statement.

 

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