Quality seats trumps diversity as a goal for D.C. public schools

In yesterday’s Washington Post Michael Allison Chandler had a long and meandering article about the quantity of diversity found in D.C.’s charter schools.  The story focused heavily on Washington Latin PCS (I served on the Washington Latin PCS board of directors) and one paragraph stood out:

“As Washington Latin’s academic reputation has grown, so has interest, particularly among wealthier families. Last year, there were 1,600 applications for 119 available seats (including 46 seats offered to siblings of current students.)”

After removing the sibling preference seats the admission rate for Washington Latin was 4.6 percent.  I’m not sure that there are Ivy League colleges that have that low an acceptance rate, a statistic which is especially striking considering it is based on a random lottery for oversubscribed seats.

Not mentioned by Ms. Chandler is that fact that this school recorded some of the city’s highest PARCC standardized test results which for the first time measured student academic readiness for college based upon the Common Core Standards.  Overall, across all public schools in the nation’s capital elementary and middle school students scored in the 25th percentile for proficiency in math and reading.  Last year using the DC CAS the number was about half.

Therefore, it appears to me that we are never going to be a great place for public education until we grow those institutions that are providing a quality education for our students.

In all the talk about neighborhood admission preferences, priorities for low income students, increasing student body diversity, and helping kids of color, one mission stands out.

Let’s just remember to teach our children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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