Recently the Deputy Mayor for Education released a schedule of focus group meetings beginning in February in preparation for the work of the D.C. public schools Cross Collaboration Task Force. Taking another look at the membership of this body I’m wondering if some individuals who could have played a major role in advancing coordination of efforts between DCPS and charters were purposely left off the list.
For example, Dr. Ramona Edelin, the long-term executive director of the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools, did not make the cut. Now this is highly unusual in that I am not aware of any serious discussion regarding charter schools in the nation’s capital over more than a decade in which she was not included. Also not sitting around the table will be Martha Cutts, the head of school of Washington Latin PCS, one of the leading players in our local movement. So these omissions got me thinking.
Were these people not given a ticket to participate because they are two of the three parties that brought the FOCUS engineered lawsuit regarding funding inequity for charter schools against the city? Perhaps this is the case since there is also no representative of Eagle Academy PCS on the task force and this school also joined the legal initiative.
Whether this action was intentional or not, the oversight of these names brings up another larger point. How in the world can there be a group working on the development of closer ties between the traditional and charter sectors when one is suing the city over revenue that the other one gets that it does not? Please keep in mind that this is no small matter because it has been estimated that DCPS is illegally provided about $100 million a year in cash over what charters receive. Add to this the issue of surplus DCPS facilities that charter schools have been blocked from using for their students and we find that we don’t really have the best environment for everyone gathered in the meeting room actually getting along.
It seems to me that bringing together this Cross Collaboration Task Force is way too premature. Before the two sides can really team up together in a meaningful way that will not be a waste of everyone’s valuable time the concerns contained in the lawsuit must be settled. Only then will stakeholders have a solid foundation on which to build pillars of common goals and metrics.