Charter schools must back fill empty seats

Last week Natalie Wexler had a piece in Greater Greater Washington in which she revealed that a couple of high performing charter schools such as Achievement Prep and DC Prep Edgewood do not accept students after the sixth grade.  This is not what we as a movement should be doing.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I understand that at the high school level some charters, due to their specific curriculum, may not be able to accept kids at later grades because it would then be impossible for them to obtain the necessary classes to graduate.  But at the elementary and middle schools there is really no excuse not to enroll pupils that want access to the quality programs our portfolio of institutions offer.

Those of us involved in this alternative sector often claim that charter schools are public schools just like the traditional ones.  We offer this moral statement as a strong justification for funding and space on an equal basis to that of DCPS.  But if we are not going to take in students the way that the regular schools do than this ethical argument goes right up in smoke.

I know well the problem that charters have in enrolling additional kids mid-year.  Currently, there is no additional funding for teaching these students.  As I have argued before, this is a problem that desperately needs to be fixed.  But failing to add pupils at the start of the school term, before the October count, because they may have not benefited from starting a program from the beginning, is not what this school reform endeavor is about.

As a reminder, we fight like we do to create quality schools so that every young person in the District that can benefit from attending one of these facilities has exactly that opportunity.

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