Meanwhile, their biggest concern, according to a report DCPS released Saturday, is that the schools aren't receiving enough financial support.
"Teachers are not spending hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets [or begging for donations] for even the most basic classroom materials, or for necessary items like math manipulatives or classroom library books," wrote one school-based employee, describing her vision of the ideal classroom.
The report compiles the findings of the Hopes and Dreams Campaign, an initiative started in May to open a dialogue on the city's wishes for its children and their schools.
About 8,500 parents, students, teachers and other school employees shared their vision for DCPS in an online survey or by mailing in response cards available at each school.
The primary hope for school climates is that they would be "fun," followed by "safe."
A student said his dream school would be "fun because each child has a computer; science lab so we can dissect frogs; school clubs (cooking, art, recycling)."
Others wished for schools with clean, modern facilities.
"Asbestos floors, paved playgrounds, and chain-link fences are gone," said a prospective DCPS parent.
"Highly effective teachers," a buzz phrase of the school system's Impact teacher evaluation tool -- ranked fourth among stakeholders' priorities. They were most prized by DCPS employees, government employees, and community members with no ties to the school, who all ranked top teachers as their third "hope." Respondents from wards 3 and 8 also prioritized teachers more frequently.
But by far the top hope for the DCPS community was that it would be an "equal" school system, one in which all children -- whether in Ward 3 or Ward 8 -- would achieve world-class educations.
"More public school students ... going to Ivy League schools," one DCPS family member wished for. "Kids stay in school and graduate, especially African-American boys."
There were several nods to testing: "Do well on the [standardized] tests" was one family member's hope for their child, while a central office employee hoped "students learn more and test less."
The biggest concern was financial resources, even as the lion's share of respondents, at 40.1 percent, were DCPS students. And even though "highly effective teachers" weren't priority No. 1, they were concern No. 2, followed by parental involvement.
"While we have accomplished a lot in DCPS, and we have a lot to be proud of, we still have a long way to go," Chancellor Kaya Henderson said when she introduced the Hopes and Dreams campaign. "We have learned that we simply can't do it alone."