Another silly anti-voucher article by Washington Post’s Emma Brown

At least she is consistent.  Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Emma Brown, along with newcomer , declared that a study has found a negative impact on academic achievement for those students participating in D.C.’s Opportunity Scholarship Program.  The report found that in reading and math for students in Kindergarten through fifth grade, the pupils on average scored significantly lower than those who had applied for a scholarship but did not receive one.  For older kids, there was no difference in reading but the math deficit remains.  The findings were produced by the U.S. Department of Education’s research unit looking at standardized test scores.  Sounds like this story should be on the newspaper’s front page.  But are you ready for this?

The study looked at results one year after these low-income scholars joined the program.

From the article, let’s see what the experts say about the results.

“Martin West, a professor of education at Harvard, said the D.C. study adds to an emerging pattern of research showing declines in student achievement among voucher recipients, a departure from an earlier wave of research — often on smaller, privately funded scholarship programs — that skewed more positive.

 ‘I think we need to be asking the question: Why is this happening and what should we make of it and should we care?’ West said. He said weaker scores among voucher recipients may be a result of the fact that public school performance is improving, particularly in the District, where math and reading scores at traditional public and public charter schools have increased quickly over the past decade.”

I know Mr. West is from Harvard, but let’s listen to local hero Kevin Chavous who actually knows what is happening on the ground.  Again, from the piece by Ms. Brown:

“”These are kids that come from some of the most challenged backgrounds, and they’re just getting adjusted. It’s no question that the longer they’re in our schools, the better they do,’ Chavous said. ‘We have to look at the ultimate judge of the quality of the program, and that’s the graduation rate and the college-going rate.’ Chavous said the voucher program gave disempowered parents something they lack in many other parts of their lives: control.”

Students from the OSP have a high school graduation rate of 92 percent, compared to a 70 percent rate citywide.  86 percent have been accepted to a two or four year college or university.

The academic achievement of those participating in the voucher program is important, but this statistic needs to be measured over time for those enrolled in private schools.  If for some reason it is found that students are not learning at an acceptable rate, then the program will be improved to make this goal a reality.

Two new D.C. charter school applications; look for one to be approved

At Monday night’s monthly meeting of the DC Public Charter School Board two applicants made their case to open new schools in the 2018 to 2019 term.  Remember that in March the PCSB announced that it has received eight submissions for charters, but since then one applicant, Interactive Academy, has withdrawn.  In listening to the presentations and reviewing the proposals look for fifty percent approval.  However, this prediction is not easy and it is not the one you might expect.

Let me start the discussion by stating that both schools have submitted high quality applications and the representatives of each did a fine job making their case before the board.  Also, credit goes to the PCSB for making public the capacity interviews that it held with charter representatives.

First up was North Star College Preparatory Academy for Boys.  North Star wants to be a middle school eventually instructing 425 pupils in grades four through eight in Ward 7 or 8.  The school is led by the impressive Shawn Hardnett, its founder, CEO, and head of school.  Mr. Hardnett has a background bringing student achievement to students as a teacher and school administrator within the KIPP system, at Friendship PCS, and at Center City PCS.

It was interesting that much of the early conversation involving the board that night and the staff during the capacity interview revolved around the academic track record of all-boys schools.  The PCSB clearly believes that data does not demonstrate an improvement for students in this model with the applicant taking the opposing view.  Add to this disagreement the local charter movement’s extremely painful experience closing Septima Clark PCS in 2013 which served male students and you could detect skepticism coming from the questioners.

The timing of this meeting could not have been more appropriate.  Just last week I met with former PCSB member Herb Tillery.    Mr. Tillery is the executive director of the College Success Foundation, a non-profit that uses best practices to help low income students graduate from high school and college.  The work that this organization is doing is so exciting that during our session it brought tears to my eyes.  Mr. Tillery’s group started over a decade ago as focused solely on helping boys.  But it realized over the years that it was leaving women behind, and therefore expanded its mission to include young people of both sexes.  I think North Star should learn from this experience and change its target for who it is serving.   Only after it makes this revision should the school be considered for approval.

The other applicant on this evening was the Washington School of Arts and Academics PCS.   As board chair Dr. Darren Woodruff pointed out, it is not every day that the PCSB sees a Waldorf curriculum-based school come before it.  The charter plans to enroll 400 students in grades nine through twelve in Ward 7 or 8.

The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America describes it model this way:

“Waldorf schools offer a developmentally appropriate, experiential, and academically rigorous approach to education. They integrate the arts in all academic disciplines for children from preschool through twelfth grade to enhance and enrich learning. Waldorf Education aims to inspire life-long learning in all students and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities.

Founded in the early 20th century, Waldorf Education is based on the insights, teachings and principles of education outlined by the world renowned artist, and scientist, Rudolf Steiner. The principles of Waldorf Education evolve from an understanding of human development that address the needs of the growing child.

Music, dance and theater, writing, literature, legends and myths are not simply subjects to be read about and tested. They are experienced. Through these experiences, Waldorf students cultivate their intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual capacities to be individuals certain of their paths and to be of service to the world”

One aspect of the charter’s application I appreciated is that the school envisions breaking up its student body into randomly grouped cohorts that would spend much of the day learning together.  This would also include, whenever possible, special education students.

My wife Michele and I have good friends that sent their children to a local Waldorf School.  The parents and their son and daughter loved the experience.  Unfortunately, the impression most people have of these facilities is that they serve primary white students in a private school environment.  Bringing this pedagogical philosophy to a public school targeting an under-served high school population is exciting and broadens the portfolio of public charter schools.  This application should be given the green light.

The PCSB will hear from five other proposals on Monday, May 1st.

School voucher supports should keep their eyes on Trinity Lutheran Supreme Court case

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court heard Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc,. vs. Sara Parker Pauley, in her official capacity.  The case revolves around the church’s desire to participate in a Missouri state program that recycles used tires for material that provides rubber surfaces for playgrounds.  The local Department of Natural Resources refused Trinity’s request for a $20,000 grant to be spent on the resurfacing of its playground because of the state constitution’s Blaine Amendment, which reads “No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion.”

The Washington Post’s George Will points out that 37 states have a form of the Blaine Amendment in their constitutions, and Congress required its adoption for new states wanting to join our nation.  The columnist explains that Blaine Amendments are named after James Blaine who was a “Republican Speaker of the House and 1884 presidential nominee.”  Mr. Blaine was upset with the proliferation of Catholic schools in this country, and therefore wanted to make sure that public funds were not going to support their expansion.  These amendments are of particular interest to school choice supporters since voucher plans throughout this country have been judged unconstitutional because the programs include secular schools.  The scholarships are therefore seen as taxpayer money going to help religious institutions.

Trinity Church sued, according to Mr. Will, saying “the state is abridging its First Amendment right to the ‘free exercise’ of religion and denying the 14th Amendment guarantee of ‘equal protection of the laws.'”

The whole argument against allowing the church access to this money is absurd.  As Michael McConnell, a church vs. state subject matter expert law professor from Stanford University has written about this case, “A scraped knee is a scraped knee whether it happens at a Montessori day care or a Lutheran day care.”  The bottom line is that the Missouri program is in place to protect the safety of its children.

An extremely similar line of reasoning applies to the use of private school vouchers.  They are being provided to parents so that they can make the best decision as to where they can sent their kids to learn.  This has nothing to do with favoring one religion over another, or promoting a particular system of worship as establishing an American church.

Mr. Will goes on to reveal that the U.S. Supreme Court has adopted a three-part test for allowing public dollars to pass to religions institutions.  “A statute pertaining to contact between government and religion does not constitute establishment of religion if the statute has ‘a secular legislative purpose’ (again: knees), it neither advances nor inhibits religion, and it does not involve ‘excessive government entanglement with religion.'”

As can easily be deducted from the above language the Missouri program passes these requirements as does any private school voucher plan.

A decision will come this summer.

 

 

 

 

Center for Education Reform comes out against single accountability system for D.C. charters and DCPS

In a strongly worded commentary yesterday the pro-school choice Center for Education Reform rejected the plan approved by the D.C. Board of Education under the Every Student Succeeds Act to place charters and the traditional schools under the same accountability system to be administered by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.  The organization writes:

“The District of Columbia State Education Agency submitted an ESSA plan that commits both traditional public and charter schools to a ‘common accountability system,’ with the blessing of the charter leadership in the city.  It’s extraordinary that there was so much support to capture charter schools under the SEA state plan umbrella, when no such requirement exists in federal law and the charters themselves are LEAs, accountable for federal law through their authorizer, not the district/state.  It’s as if they believed that pulling all charters under one accountability umbrella is consistent with their mandate to offer diverse options across all D.C. students attending public schools and charter schools. Does anyone know that ESSA plans become the foundation for federal intervention (no matter what administration comes and goes)? Guess not.”

I received an energetic response from the DC Public Charter School Board when I covered this news about a month ago, publicly posing the question of what the future was for the Performance Management Framework, the tool that has been utilized for the last four years to tier local charters.  Although I was told that an answer was in the works, nothing has yet to materialize.

Closing Latin American Youth Center would be the worst decision D.C. charter board would have ever made

Last month, in a five-to-two vote, the DC Public Charter School Board decided to begin revocation proceedings against the Latin American Youth Center Career Academy Public Charter School.  As part of this process the school is entitled to a public hearing if the institution is so inclined.  A source close to the charter expressed to me some trepidation about proceeding with this step.  I can remember only one case in which the board reversed its original position after a public hearing. However, forgoing this session would have been a tremendous mistake.

Last night, I watched representatives from the school, one after another in perfectly choreographed highly passionate testimony, make the case that the charter should be allowed to continue to operate.  If you have any interest at all in our local charter movement, or in the subject of school choice in general, investing a couple of hours in viewing what transpired in front of a packed house at the school’s facility is a marvel to observe.  The bottom line is this:  all of the difficulty that LAYCCA is facing is due to a major communication problem between the board and the charter.

The Youth Center is serving adult students with an average education on a sixth grade level.  This is the average.  Almost all of those enrolled have faced tremendous obstacles throughout their lives from drug addiction, homelessness, poverty, and incarceration.  Needless to say, these are not individuals from typical two-parent households.  Then what this school does, and I have no idea how they do this, is they take these disadvantaged people and put them back together.  The charter demonstrated that many attendees are able to gain years of learning under their watch.  As was stated yesterday evening, Frederick Douglass remarked that, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”  But somehow, in consistent irrefutable evidence presented by the staff and the board of directors, fixing broken human beings is exactly what this charter is accomplishing.

I have to admit that much of the conversation was technical regarding the value of the results of various academic assessments.  But the highlight for me was when PCSB member Sara Mead asked a hypothetical question about how long it would take the school to bring a student reading at the sixth grade level up to the level of the eleventh grade for this subject matter.  A staff member asked Ms. Mead to tell her about the past trauma that this pupil had experienced in his or her life.  The PCSB board member had no answer.

I’m afraid that there is no proper response for what got us to this point.  One area that was found to be severely lacking by the authorizer in its five year review was the low number of students obtaining their GED.  However, as explained during the hearing, individuals must be reading at that eleventh grade level in order to simply take the examination.  When a grownup arrives at the school with the knowledge of a four year old this is an astonishingly high mountain to climb.

Obviously, the goals established for this school are unrealistic.  This would easily explain the reason that the targets for the number of students graduating from LAYCCA’s academic pathways are not being met.  However, as the charter’s board chair reluctantly revealed, when the institution tried to work with the board on revisions to these targets they were met with “tension” and “a gotcha mentality” by the PCSB staff.

The hero in this story, standing with those at LAYCCA who dedicate their lives on a daily basis to developing men and women who can become valuable members of our community that others have cast aside, is the CityBridge Foundation.  You see there are no current national benchmarks to judge success for schools caring for this population of students.  None.  CityBridge (now CityBridge Education) presented the Youth Center with a $500,000 grant to develop those assessments.  Let’s sincerely hope that it gets the opportunity to try.

A plan to charterize traditional public schools

Yesterday, in a fascinating public policy forum over at the American Enterprise Institute, Andy Smarick of Bellweather Education Partners presented his paper written for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools entitled “Charter Accountability for District-Run Schools.”  Mr. Smarick’s thesis is that with the passage by the U.S. Congress of the Every Student Succeeds Act, states are now developing accountability systems for public schools.  His point is that many of these evaluation tools are already in place in localities in which charter schools operate.  He contends that these same standards be applied to all educational institutions, and be administered by the same organization that currently authorizes charters.

According to the author, his plan would make traditional schools look a lot more like charters.  They would be held to performance contracts under which the schools could be closed for poor outcomes.  The new system would certainly help parents since all schools would be graded according to the same standards.  The idea would also be attractive to regular school administrators, Mr. Smarick believes, since this would finally provide them with the autonomy that many of them have been seeking under their current bureaucratic structures.

In a twist on this concept with which I don’t agree, the Bellweather analyst sees a continuing role for state education superintendents.  He asserts that these individuals would still run the regular schools as far as establishing policies and negotiating contracts.  I believe that this suggestion in practice would be quickly eliminated since it clearly flies in the face of true independence of schools.

The event included a panel discussion of the paper that included Chris Barbic, of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation;  John King Jr., from The Education Trust and former U.S. Education Secretary; Scott Pearson, executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board; and Christy Wolfe, from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.  Mr. Pearson’s remarks were the most enlightening.

The PCSB executive director stated he was excited by the suggestions he was hearing at the conference.  Then he made some interesting points.

Mr. Pearson drew an immediate analogy between Mr. Smarick’s ideas and the situation regarding the public schools in Denver, Colorado that I have written much about.  In Denver, both traditional and charter schools are authorized and held accountable under one system by Denver Public Schools.  The body has in recent years closed dozens of under-performing traditional schools and replaced them with charters with positive academic results.

But he explained that if charters become closer to looking like district schools then there are commitments they would have to make.  For example, Mr. Pearson revealed that they would need to admit students at any grade and at any point in the school year, which are policies that many charters do not currently follow.  In addition, while the PCSB executive director is proud that here in the nation’s capital charters teach the same proportion of special education students as the regular schools, he indicated that this is not the always case nationally, and that would have to change under Mr. Smarick’s concept.  Finally he talked about what I would call the democratization of public schools.  He said there is a lot of pressure from political representatives who come to the regular schools to incorporate constituent suggestions such as all schools having libraries or an hour of physical education each day.  Mr. Pearson observed that while now this democratic pressure is applied mostly to DCPS, under a model where there is a single school authorizer charters may face the call for similar requirements.

I was encouraged by the discussion.  As our local charters grow to take on a greater market share of students their student bodies will naturally more closely resemble that of neighborhood schools.  When this occurs we will have theories such as Mr. Smarick’s, and practical examples such as public education in Denver, to guide us on how to proceed.

D.C. charter school wait list approaching 10,000 children

Last week, without emotion, the DC Public Charter School Board released the latest figures for the number of children wait listed while trying to obtain entrance to a charter school.  We are now up to 9,703 pupils.  The number represents a 12.3 percent increase over last year.  841 more kids are on this list than were present in 2016.  In addition, the PCSB points out, that for a dozen schools the list of those who want to be enrolled is double the number of their entire population of students.

Take D.C. Bilingual PCS as an example.  This academically strong charter teaches 364 kids.  The wait list to get in is 1,176 people.  Interested in having your child go to Creative Minds International PCS?  181 fortunate parents received the good news that their offspring can learn there.  But 1,286 young people who wanted to gain the same experience cannot.  Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freeedom PCS teaches 350 scholars with 1,595 wanting in.  Washington Latin PCS, where I served as board chair, has a wait list of 1,176 students while admitting 670. (The wait list numbers are from March 31, 2017, while the school enrollment figures are from the 2015-to-2016 PCSB school profiles.)

This situation is not something that should be casually reported.  It is a crisis for the families living in our city.  How in the world can we offer our neighbors a quality education for their children when the chance of landing in the public school of their choice may be harder than getting into Harvard or Yale?  This situation will only get worse as it is estimated that 1,000 new residents a month are moving into the nation’s capital.

This tremendous demand for high-quality charter schools, demonstrated by the PCSB revelation that 60 percent of the wait list is for the top Tier 1 schools, could have the unintended consequence of turning public opinion against these institutions that now educate 46 percent of all kids in the city.  For if an insufficient number can get in, and the frustration level rises among residents, then attention could be turned to simply strengthening DCPS.

Instead of publishing information on a web page the PCSB should be in crisis mode.  The organization, along with other stakeholders, needs to be on the phone with school leaders and funders from here and across the United States trying to figure out how to bring greater capacity to our local movement.

But on the other hand, never mind.  Àferall,  it is spring break.

OSSE recommends 3.5% increase in funding education in the District; Mayor budgets 1.5%

There was outrage on Tuesday by many leaders of D.C.’s charter school movement as the Mayor released her proposed fiscal year 2018 budget that included a 1.5 percent increase in the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula.  This despite the fact that for the first time in years Ms. Bowser put in a 2.2 percent increase in the per pupil facility allotment.  What’s the reason for the controversy?

The reason is simple.  In 2016, as is required by law to be done every 24 months, the State Superintendent of Education convened a working group to review the level of the UPSFF.  Participating in this body, among 13 others, were Irene Holtzman, the executive director of FOCUS; Scott Pearson, the executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board; and representatives from KIPP DC PCS, Two Rivers PCS, Appletree PCS, DC Prep PCS, Friendship PCS, E.L. Haynes PCS, Next Step PCS, and St. Coletta PCS.  This is the group that came up with the push for the recommended increase.  It is fascinating to see the reason for their conclusion.  From the report:

“Increasing the base rate significantly, above the rate of inflation, continues to treat the Adequacy Study, the most recent, thorough and comprehensively researched examination of the UPSFF, as the “North Star” for guidance on the rate. By default, an increase in the base rate impacts the amounts in weights across the board.

An increase in the base rate provides: The greatest flexibility to meet the diverse needs of the greatest number of schools, and schools with varying demographic populations, including alternative schools, charter schools and DCPS schools. Funding for the single greatest cost for providing students a high quality education: the cost of salaries and benefits for the educator workforce. This includes, for example, the rising cost of healthcare and the interest of DC schools to have competitive compensation with surrounding jurisdictions.

A significant increase of 3.5% to the base rate specifically helps to:
Further defray the costs of transition from the previous summer school weight to the implementation of the at-risk weight, especially given evidence that some LEAs and schools gained more funding from this transition than others.
Provide the most flexible funding for core program services, and is enough to help fill identified gaps in funding at DCPS. Ensure that there is adequate funding for all students, and ensure that funding distributed from the at- risk weight is better leveraged and remains a supplement for the needs of those students most at risk.”

Is is astonishing that after six months of work the Mayor would ignore the findings of the task force whose membership possesses so much expertise in the area of  school funding. But for me there was one silver lining contained in this document.  It refers back, as stated above, to the Adequacy Study as the “North Star” for “guidance on the rate.”  The Adequacy Study was groundbreaking in that it put in writing for the first time by the government that the traditional schools were receiving significant dollars in the neighborhood of $100 million a year, in dollars outside of the UPSFF which is against the law.  When then, will the FOCUS engineered lawsuit on the inequitable funding of charter schools be resolved?

Breakthrough – The Movie

Last evening my wife Michele and I had the great privilege of heading over to the Columbia Heights Educational Campus auditorium to watch the first public showing of the film Breakthrough.  The event was co-sponsored by CityBridge Education and Stone Soup Films, the firm that produced the movie.  During the introduction we learned that Stone Soup is a Washington, D.C. company that develops all of its projects through the use of volunteers.  I would say this is just about the perfect organization to make a documentary that covers D.C.’s charter schools, a movement composed of hundreds of people contributing their time, money, and expertise for no financial remuneration.

The documentary follows three schools that were awarded $100,000 each through Citybridge’s “Breakthrough Schools: DC” challenge in 2014 to create new or redesigned transformational schools in the nation’s capital.  This was the initial year that these grants were made and Monument Academy PCS, Washington Leadership Academy PCS, and the Wheatley Education Campus were part of the first cohort of six winners.

So here’s the bottom line.  I basically watched the last 20 years of my life replayed before me on the big screen.  The audience saw Monument Academy, the first boarding school in the city for foster children, go through the amazingly complex struggle of securing a permanent facility.  The commercial spaces that were identified as possibilities all fall through and the charter is eventually awarded, with the help of Building Hope, a shuttered DCPS building, the former Gibbs School.  I went through similar hunts with Cesar Chavez PCS for Public Policy, the William E. Doar, Jr. PCS for the Performing Arts (now City Arts and Prep PCS) and Washington Latin PCS.  But the structure was in such a poor physical condition that Monument must practically rebuild it from the ground up, a repeat of what Washington Latin went through at its own expense when it assumed the old Rudolph Elementary.

We get a first-hand look at a Monument Academy parent information session held at a public library, since this is before the school had its own location that would allow it to hold meetings of this type. The picture captures the exceptionally tough questions and comments by those considering sending their own offspring to this new school.   Michele and I witnessed exactly the same scenario when we were trying to convince parents to sent their kids to WEDJ.

Breakthrough took the large audience for a closeup view of the charter approval process for Washington Leadership Academy before the DC Public Charter School Board.  I remember this as if it was yesterday as I observed and wrote about Seth Andrew’s team making a confusing and unstructured presentation one year; only to be followed by a revised application 12 months later that perfectly reflected the exciting vision for this groundbreaking charter that won unanimous approval by the board to begin operating.

The film is an accurate portrayal so it does not have a completely happy ending.  The Wheatley Elementary School’s attempts to implement a blended learning approach based upon competency-based student assessments.  During its first year of implementation only three classrooms end up adopting this new approach which results in its dynamic instructional leader for this effort, Tanisha Dixon, leaving the school at the end of the term.  It brought back in my mind the high all of us associated William E. Doar experienced when in our first couple of years we met the Annual Yearly Progress goals under No Child Left Behind only to find much later the three founding women departing and the hiring of Ten Square consulting group to get the school back on track academically.

All of this brings me to my final impression of the film.  This heroic work that many of us in this town have been doing to finally close the achievement gap is really really hard.  Thank goodness we have CityBridge Education, with Katherine Bradley as the fountainhead and Mieka Wick as chief executive officer, to provide financial assistance and many other avenues of support as public school reform reaches an entirely new level.  The organization’s goal is to create 25 new or reconstituted schools in the next five years.  I can’t wait to see the sequel.

Paul PCS will not have unionized teachers

This past Friday, WAMU reporter Martin Austermuhle broke the story that last Wednesday, twenty-four hours before the teachers and staff at Paul Public Charter School were scheduled to vote, the American Federation of Teachers called off the move to form the affiliated District of Columbia Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff once it realized that the ballot measure would go down in defeat.  In an early article about this effort, Rachel Cohen of the American Prospect revealed that 75 percent of the educators had agreed to join DC ACTS.  Mr. Austermuhle, in his excellent reporting, quotes history instructor David Koening, the lead teacher behind the effort to unionize, as stating:

“Our organizing committee felt that we had the votes to win, and voted to go ahead with the election, but we did not have enough people who were wiling to be public with their support to convince the AFT that we were definitely going to win.”

This story is a tremendous lesson for managers everywhere.  The best way to avoid union activity at your place of employment is to carefully listen to your employees, and react constructively to the information they are providing.  Here are Paul CEO Jami Dunham’s comments about this point as quoted in the WAMU piece:

“Our board, our leaders, our administration definitely sought input and feedback and asked questions and listened and wanted to hear issues and concerns. . . I feel like that’s something we’ve always done. . . We had a renewed energy around it, because we wanted to make sure that we responded to our staff for them to feel heard and supported.  We made sure we listened.  We did a ton of listening.”

The school really dodged a bullet.  The union would have placed a major barrier between the staff and administration as is always the case whenever employees are represented by a third party.  It also would have also prevented the school from making rapid changes in its structure, systems, and processes to address the needs of its students since modifications would have had to be negotiated through a collective bargaining agreement.  Perhaps those working at Paul looked back and recollected the union activity in 1999 when Paul became the first and only DCPS school to convert to becoming a charter, as I previously illustrated and as explained by Josephine Baker, former executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board, in her book The Evolution & Revolution of DC Charter Schools:

“The announcement of the approval of Paul’s application to convert to charter school status was the beginning of intense activity to thwart the conversion.  First, teachers’ union members of Paul’s faculty organized a student walk-out to protest the conversion. The students, who may or may not have cared about the implications of the school changing its governance structure, seemed to offer little resistance to the opportunity to ‘spontaneously’ leave their classes at the suggestion of their teachers.  At least one teacher who helped facilitate teacher signatures of the conversion petition reported being harassed by the teachers’ union representatives” (p. 49).

In addition, if teachers at Paul became unionized there is no telling which school would be next.  This news is especially important in light of the executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board’s recent suggestion that a unionized charter would add to the diversity of its portfolio.