D.C. charter school enrollment approaching equity with traditional public schools

Today, Alejandra Matos of the Washington Post reveals the highly encouraging news that enrollment in D.C.’s charter schools increased by seven percent from a year ago.  This movement, that began just 20 years ago, and which over the past several years has seen its share of public school students seemingly stuck at 44 percent, jumped from 38,905 students to 41,677 this term reaching an astonishing share of 46 percent of all public school students enrolled in the District of Columbia.  The change represents an additional 2,772 scholars attending charters.

Incredibly, the rise in the charter school student body could have been significantly greater.  There are currently an estimated 8,640 pupils on charter school wait lists.

DCPS, which had been growing in enrollment by about one and three quarters percent a year for the last four years following eight years of decline, saw only 338 additional students enter the system for the 2016 to 2017 term.  The Post indicates that 90,500 children are now taught in all D.C. public schools, a rise of three percent from last year.

It appears that even to this day with all of the improvements made to the traditional school facilities and programs, parents continue to vote with their feet in choosing a charter school education as the preferred path to guarantee a strong future for their children.

Of course, the logical question in the face of this data is why is it that charter schools continue to be denied the same level of funding as the regular schools?  A FOCUS engineered funding equity lawsuit brought by the DC Association of Chartered Public Schools, Washington Latin PCS, and Eagle Academy PCS estimates that DCPS receives for each child an additional $1,600 to $2,600 a year in operating revenue from the city outside of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula that charters do not get.  This amounts to about $100 million a term.

It is only fair and right that with enrollment equity comes funding equity.  Charters have had to make due with this shortfall from the beginning and therefore for far too many years.

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