In my interview with Aaron Cuny, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Ingenuity Prep PCS, he explained that a strategic goal of his charter is to grow in size. Why shouldn’t it? For District of Columbia schools with an enrollment of over fifty percent of its students qualifying for free or reduced price meals, it ranks seventh in PARCC scores. However, as I’ve written about before, it cannot replicate because it has not yet reached the Tier 1 level on the DC Public Charter School Board’s Performance Management Framework.
Yet, earlier this month, the board considered the application of LEARN PCS to open a campus on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. The Chicago charter management organization has no academic record in our city but may very well be given the green light to accept up to 712 pupils.
Something is terribly wrong here. In order to treat charters equitably, an institution such as LEARN should have to be graded on the PMF before it can start teaching kids locally. The charter has a 17-year track record. Representatives of the CMO pointed out that the school that they would open in the nation’s capital would most closely resemble its LEARN 6 campus. So I think the only reasonable and equitable path to take is to grade this site on the PCSB’s benchmark tool. If LEARN turns out to fall in the Tier3 category of course, then its application should not be approved.
At the same time we have to allow schools such as Ingenuity Prep the right to expand. Strong Tier 2 schools provide a significantly better education than the DCPS facilities where students are now posting PARCC results in the teens.
The expressed goal of education reformers in this town is to provide a quality seat to anyone who needs one. By allowing Ingenuity Prep to take on more students and by grading out-of-state schools with a history of instruction on the PMF, we would take an important step in this direction.