D.C. has strongest charter school program in the U.S.

This morning the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released a follow-up report on the strength of the charter school movement in each of the 50 states.  Washington, D.C. is number one on the list.  It was in the same position when the initial study was published by this organization in 2014.

According to the Alliance the states at the top of the rankings share the following characteristics:  “they have a large percentage of students in charter schools, strong rates of new schools opening and they serve a significant amount of historically underserved students.  They also measure high on innovation – meaning they have a diverse array of school models, and on quality – meaning their charter schools are showing strong academic gains.”

One reason that the results are impressive is that the NAPCS raised the bar when reviewing each locality compared to two years ago by doubling the number of quality metrics used in its evaluation.  The findings are also especially noteworthy because D.C.’s charter school law, while strong, is not recognized by this group as the best in the nation; it reaches the twelfth position in comparison to the Alliance’s model legislation.

I congratulate the DC Public Charter School Board on this great achievement.  As an oversight organization it has already won many accolades.  But there are two roles that the PCSB plays.  It is both a regulator and promoter.  At this point in the evolution of our movement the promotion side is the one that I would desperately like to see enhanced.

For example, lets take a look at the list of schools that I have written about over the last week.  These include Washington Latin PCS, Two Rivers PCS, and Washington Yu Ying PCS PCS.  Each of these schools has a waiting list of around 1,000 students.  Recently, the head of Lee Montessori PCS invited me over just for a discussion of charters in the nation’s capital.  During the conversation I learned that his institution has another 1,000 kids wanting admission who cannot get in.

That’s 4,000 of the 22,000 currently on waiting lists.  And what is the PCSB doing about adding capacity for families with young children living here?  I’m not sure that it sees this as within its scope.

These parents want what every parent wants: the best for their children.  Don’t be surprised if the recent growth in our school-aged family population begins an exodus once again to the suburbs in the search for a good public education.


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