Bowser Administration defines limit of D.C. cross sector collaboration

Recently, the editors of the Washington Post described the highly depressing situation regarding the Southwest campus of AppleTree Early Learning PCS. For the past five years the school has been located in trailers owned by AppleTree on the site of DCPS’s Jefferson Middle School. Jefferson is in the process of undergoing modernization so AppleTree has been informed that it must vacate the property this coming July. The charter, after undergoing a typically frustrating facility hunt, has secured a permanent home but it will not be ready until the following school year. The Deputy Mayor of Education Paul Kihn has refused to delay the construction project and has been unable to identify another temporary site for AppleTree, while actually referring to the leadership of AppleTree, my hero Jack McCarthy, as “irresponsible” regarding this matter. Here’s the Post’s view:

“Perhaps AppleTree could have done more, but that raises the question of why the city doesn’t feel more of a sense of responsibility for preserving what it agrees is a top-flight program. AppleTree provides not simply day care but data-driven instruction designed to help disadvantaged students, for whom a good start in school makes a critical difference. If these were traditional public school students, there would be no question of finding them space.”

We have really never known D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s feelings toward charter schools because, as far as I know, she has never publicly provided her opinion. But we can now get a clear picture of her view through her actions. In the face of the Public Charter School Board considering the applications of 11 new schools, her Deputy Mayor for Education (notice that the job title states that this position is FOR education) stated that there was already excess capacity even though tens of thousands of students lack access to a quality seat. Recently, Ms. Bowser released the Ferebee-Hope Elementary School for re-purposing, but blatantly failed to follow the law in placing it out for bid to charters. Now we have the case of AppleTree, in which the response to a crisis for 100 three and four year old children from low-income households who attend a Tier 1 charter is to throw them out on the street.

For the past two years, Ms. Bowser has increased the per pupil charter school facility fund by 2.2 percent. This is appreciated but does little good in a city that now has no places in which charter schools can apply this revenue. Unfortunately, more money will not make this problem go away. Unless the city turns over its million square feet of vacant or under-utilized DCPS buildings over to charters, our children will suffer.

For D.C. charter schools the war is on; but there is no war

Over the weekend the Washington Post printed an opinion piece by Jack Schneider entitled “School’s Out: Charters were supposed to save public education. Why are Americans turning against them?” The article offers a highly slanted negative view of the charter school movement that contains inaccuracies that have been easily negated by my public policy friends. Mr. Schneider wrote:

“The charter school movement is in trouble. In late December, the editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times observed that the charter movement in the Windy City was ‘in hot water and likely to get hotter.’ Among more than a dozen aspirants for mayor, ‘only a handful’ expressed any support for charter schools, and the last two standing for the April 2 runoff election both said they wanted to halt charter school expansion. In February, New York City’s elected parent representatives — the Community and Citywide Education Councils — issued a unanimous statement in which they criticized charters for operating ‘free from public oversight’ and for draining ‘substantial’ resources from district schools. A month later, Mayor Bill de Blasio told a parent forum that in the ‘not-too-distant future’ his administration would seek to curtail the marketing efforts of the city’s charters, which currently rely on New York City Department of Education mailing lists.”

It is all par for the course.

To understand the current environment around charter schools here locally you have to be aware of the obstacles that have been established in an effort to ensure that parents have a limited option as to where to send their kids to receive a premier educational experience.

First, there are no buildings available for charter growth and expansion. Although these are public schools the city is under no obligation to provide them with space as it does when DCPS creates new facilities. I believe it has come to the point in which charter enrollment will freeze because there is nothing whatsoever in the market to lease or purchase. This despite the fact that there is currently 1.3 million square feet of vacant or under-utilized real estate that the traditional schools possess but will not turnover to charters in violation of the law.

Then there is the funding inequity issue. Charters receive an estimated $100 million a year less in revenue than the traditional school are provided by the city. Under the School Reform Act charters and DCPS are to be provided with the same dollars through the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula. Yet even in the face of a FOCUS engineered lawsuit on this matter the government will not budge. The Mayor will not even engage with the institutions that educates almost half of all public school students, approximately 44,000 pupils, regarding a discussion on this topic.

We are also facing an attempted labor union infiltration of charter schools. First it was attempted at Paul PCS, then at Cesar Chaves PCS, and now at Mundo Verde Bilingual PCS. Please do not be fooled. None of this has to do with transgressions by school administrators or the needs of teachers or parents. The union is trying to obtain a footing in our sector in order to kill it off once and for all.

While all of this is going on charters are educating scholars minute by minute according to the highest standards they can offer. Many of the children housed in their classrooms are the ones regular schools have turned away. They rarely even consider the insurmountable obstacles in their path. The situation is terribly unfair. The message charters are receiving on a daily basis is do your best tirelessly without adequate classroom space, funding, and with the introduction of a third party grossly interfering with the trust that has been established between staff and leadership.

There has got to be a better way.

Now that D.C. charter board has approved 5 new schools city must provide them with facilities

At the May monthly meeting of the DC Public Charter School Board, five new schools were approved to begin teaching children during the 2020 to 2021 term. While these nonprofits have reached an important milestone in being given the green light to open, their most difficult challenge still lies ahead. They must now enter the hunt for a facility. As they signup to work toward this goal with Building Hope or TenSquare they will quickly find out, if they have not already been told, that if their aim is to rent commercially available real estate in the nation’s capital they can cross this option off the list. There is nothing available.

Early in the creation of the charter school movement in the District, the charter school facility allotment was created that provides dollars to acquire space based upon the number of students a school enrolls. The facility fund has played a crucial role in helping charters obtain temporary and permanent buildings. But now this fund is outdated since there is nothing left to lease. Imagine the savings that our local government could realize by ending this revenue stream. With 43,911 pupils in charters and a facility allotment that is projected to increase to $3,335 per student next fiscal year, D.C. spends almost $150 million of its budget on this expenditure. The cost could certainly be significantly reduced to a level adequate for charters to cover building operating costs.

Charter schools should have never have been burdened with the task of converting warehouses, offices, storefronts, and churches for use as classrooms. The city has a moral obligation to provide them with sites as they do for other public schools. Charter schools are in fact public schools.

A year ago a letter Mayor Muriel Bowser sent to Senator Ron Johnson indicated that there is over 1.3 million square feet of “vacant or significantly underutilized DC-owned former DCPS facilities.” More recently, in a memorandum from Paul Kihn to PCSB chair Rick Cruz that attempted to freeze the number of charter schools, the Deputy Mayor for Education reported that DCPS is running at 70 percent of capacity on average at its schools. Therefore there is plenty of room for the five new charters. Vacant DCPS properties need to be transferred to the charter sector and other addresses with empty desks must be utilized for co-location.

Charter schools are public schools. It is past time for the Mayor to immediately turn over these excess structures to charters. Ms. Bowser, provide us with the keys. Today.

D.C.’s charter school facility problem has reached the crisis phase

Yesterday, WTOP’s Rachel Nania chronicled the recent facility woes of Eagle Academy PCS as it tried to find a new location after being informed that its Capitol Riverfront campus would be turned into condominiums. According to Joe Smith, Eagle’s CEO/CFO:

“We tried for several years to find a location here in Ward 6, but all of that had been purchased by developers on speculation, so that even when we looked at a bare strip of land or a building we could knock down, somebody else had already bought it.”

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the impact of the facility hunt has on the quality of academics at charters. In 2018, Eagle Academy’s Capitol Riverfront campus went from Tier 1 the year before to Tier 2 on the DC Public Charter School Board’s Performance Management Framework tool. The impact was even greater on its Congress Heights location, which saw a drop from Tier 2 in 2017 to Tier 3. The amount of time and energy spent on trying to secure a permanent location cannot be underestimated.

Last week, Mr. Smith was given a one year extension for the school at its current location. But this only delays the problem for another 12 months. Ms. Nania quotes Building Hope’s Dominique Fortune as commenting about D.C.’s charter schools, “They’re not going to be able to afford to stay in the space that they’re in, but there isn’t really an alternative or any place for them to go.”

Another associate at Building Hope perfectly captures the issues now facing charters in trying to find space in Washington, D.C.’s hot commercial real estate market. Remarked Jerry Zayets, “So essentially, you need to convince someone that, ‘Hey, I’m going to put a tenant in the building that’s going to be loud, and there’s going to be noise and traffic and pickups and drop-offs. Oh, and I’m also going to pay you $12 less (per square foot) than market rent.’ That’s not a compelling argument to a commercial landlord.”

So with renting space in a commercial building out of the question, the only alternative is to set up shop in a surplus DCPS facility. But this too is not an option. Since Mayor Bowser came into office in January 2015, no former DCPS buildings have been awarded to charter schools. At least ten properties currently stand empty. Many more current DCPS classroom spaces are severely underutilized.

It looks like the anti-charter people may get what they want after all. There is now an effective moratorium on charter schools expansion in the nation’s capital for one reason only. There is no place for them to go.

Is there no one out there that can help?

D.C. charter school lawsuit continues; a second one should be filed

The Washington Post’s Perry Stein reported last week that the ruling issued almost exactly a year ago by a federal judge against the FOCUS coordinated charter school funding inequity lawsuit brought by Washington Latin PCS, Eagle Academy PCS, and the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools, has been appealed.  A federal judge heard oral arguments on November 5th that mostly revolved around whether it is appropriate that the matter be heard in federal court.  The original legal action by the plaintiffs claimed that charter schools receive less money in revenue from the city compared to the regular schools, a figure that has totaled $770 million from 2008 to 2015, and equates to $1,600 to $2,600 per pupil every year.

The supplemental payments to DCPS have come mostly in the form of services the regular schools receive for free that charters do not, such as building maintenance and legal assistance.

The most significant information coming out of Ms. Stein’s story is that legal representation for the charter schools is now being provided by an attorney from WilmerHale, a law firm handling the case on a pro bono basis.  The attorney replaces Stephen Marcus, who was intimately involved in this lawsuit even before it was brought before the court four years ago.

The charter school argument is based upon the School Reform Act.  Passed by Congress and incorporated into local law by the D.C. Council, it states that all financial support for public schools, both charter and traditional, must come through the Uniform Per Student funding formula.  This means that the additional no-charge benefits that DCPS has been receiving over the past twenty years are illegal.

The current situation is unjust and is harming charter schools’ ability to care for the almost 44,000 children sitting it its classrooms.

It is, in fact, difficult to find a more straightforward public policy.  However, you are in luck.  Because on this dark and cold November morning I have found one more, a legal rule that I consider practically a tie in clarity with the dictate on the manner in which our schools receive their operating cash.  Ready, here it is:

All excess DCPS buildings will be offered to charter schools on a right of first offer basis.

As I pointed out yesterday, it is estimated that there is approximately one million square feet of vacant or underutilized DCPS facility space to which charters cannot get access.  An empty site has not been turned over to charters for about four years.  This is severely negatively impacting their ability to expand and replicate.  Now I will ask you a really simple question.  It is early so I don’t want to make it too difficult.  If charters can sue over illegal funding should not the sector also mount a court battle over access to physical structures?

I’ll await your response.

 

 

 

Blockade of turning vacant school buildings over to charters is a problem in many other cities besides D.C.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago C.J. Szafir, executive vice president of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, and Cori Peterson, a researcher and writer at the Institute, in a piece entitled “This Building Is for Sale, but Not to a Charter School” tell the exceedingly frustrating story of charters trying to obtain the use of vacant traditional school buildings in Milwaukee and other localities.  They explain:

“The Milwaukee Public Schools currently have at least 11 vacant school buildings and 41 schools operating below 70% capacity—and, according to a report by a consulting group hired by MPS, empty seats are expected to increase by 63% over the next 10 years. Many parents have turned to the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, passed in 1990, which provides low-income children with vouchers for private schools. Over the past decade, enrollment has increased 45% at MPCP schools and by 47% at the city’s charter schools. Many charter and MPCP administrators would like to expand by acquiring vacant public-school buildings.

St. Marcus Lutheran, which has a student body of around 900 and ranks in the top 1% statewide among schools with a majority of low-income and minority students, offered $1 million in 2013 to buy Malcolm X Academy, a large public-school campus that had been closed since 2008. The Milwaukee Board of School Directors said no and instead chose to sell the site to 2760 Holdings LLC, a newly formed corporation registered to a pair of construction-business operators. That deal fell through, and in 2016 the school district opted instead to spend $10 million relocating the struggling Rufus King Middle School and its roughly 400 students to the Malcolm X campus.”

Sound familiar?  It should.  Last June D.C. Mayor Bowser announced that five surplus DCPS buildings were being turned over to developers.  In the nation’s capital there is an estimated one million square feet of space that could be utilized by charters to grow and replicate.  Yet, not one former classroom building has been offered to a charter for almost four years.

The authors of the Wall Street Journal editorial continue:

“In November 2016 Rocketship, a charter school that performs in the top 5% statewide, attempted to buy an MPS building. In the final stage of the negotiation, MPS demanded that Rocketship, which is chartered by the city, obtain a charter from MPS instead. This would allow the district more control over the school. In 2017, because of the ultimatum and protests by the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, the deal fell through. (MPS declined to comment.)”

On to Detroit:

“In 2017 Detroit ranked last in proficiency out of 27 large urban school districts with a measly 5% of fourth-graders proficient in math and 7% in reading. The Motor City is home to one of the largest charter systems in the country; more Detroit students are enrolled in charters than in traditional public schools. The Detroit Public Schools have 22 vacant buildings, but as in Milwaukee, the education establishment isn’t eager to sell.

In 2017 DPS did everything it could, even manipulating deed restrictions, to block charter school Detroit Prep from buying an abandoned building. ‘It seemed that Detroit Public Schools’ perspective was that they could use their size and power to wait us out and, ultimately, put us out of business,’ said Kyle Smitley, Detroit Prep’s co-founder and executive director. The sale was completed only this summer, after litigation, public outrage and the enactment of legislation to prevent deed restrictions on schools.”

Lastly they point to Indianapolis:

“In Indianapolis, only 1 in 4 students passed the state proficiency test last year. From 2006 to 2016, Indianapolis Public Schools’ overall test scores declined 22%. The district announced in June that it would close seven schools. Purdue Polytechnic High School, which is chartered by Purdue University, tried to buy the vacant Broad Ripple High School building but received pushback from Indianapolis Public Schools. Elected officials convinced the district to consider Purdue’s offer, but the school’s leadership announced in August that they were no longer interested.”

Just last month, New York City’s Success Academy called out Mayor de Blasio for severely curtailing the use of vacant regular school system buildings by charters.  As reported by Selim Algar in the New York Post, “Citing a study from the Manhattan Institute, Success Academy said Thursday there are 192 DOE buildings with at least 300 available seats and that some schools have up to 1,000 empty spots.”

Back in D.C., Ms. Bowser offered this justification last summer to United States Senator Ron Johnson to explain her failure to comply with the law that states that charters get right of first offer for empty DCPS facilities:

“As you noted, District of Columbia law gives public charter schools the right of first offer when school facilities are designated as excess.  However, the law does not require the District to designate every vacant or underutilized school as excess.”

But then what about the five buildings she sold?  If you want to know why our children may become confused as to what constitutes the truth or a falsehood you just have to follow the twisted logic of our city’s chief executive.

 

D.C. Mayor Bowser wrangles with Congress over surplus DCPS facilities

Coming shortly before the excellent editorial that appeared in last Sunday’s Washington Post by District of Columbia International Public Charter School’s executive director Mary Schaffner that bemoans the loss of five vacant DCPS facilities for use by charters, was a squabble between D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Senator Ron Johnson over space for the sector that now educates 47 percent of all public school students in the nation’s capital.  Senator Johnson sent a letter to Ms. Bowser on May 31, 2018 under his authority as chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which is responsible for oversight of the city’s operations.  He wrote:

“Under D.C. law, public charter schools have a right of first offer to purchase, lease, or otherwise use excess school facilities.  This right provides D.C. public charter schools with access to surplus school buildings while allowing the traditional public school system to generate additional revenue.

Although leasing excess school facilities is beneficial to both charter schools and traditional schools, ten percent of D.C. school facilities were vacant or ‘significantly underused’ as of July 2017.  Meanwhile, waiting lists at D.C. charter schools have increased across all charter schools and totaled 28,698 students – an increase of 27.2% from the 2016-2017 waitlist total of 20,880.”

The letter concludes with a request for a list of all surplus and underutilized DCPS buildings and the names of schools that have been turned over to charters during her time in office.

On June 14, 2018, Mayor Bowser responds and answers the two questions in this manner:

“Thank you for your May 31, 2018 letter regarding the District of Columbia’s management of vacant or significantly underutilized public school facilities.  As you noted, District of Columbia law gives public charter schools the right of first offer when school facilities are designated as excess.  However, the law does not require the District to designate every vacant or underutilized school as excess.  Rather, my administration evaluates both the short and long-term needs of a growing school system when determining facility designations.

The population of the District of Columbia declined for several decades but starting in 2010 our population began to grow -recently surpassing 700,000- and so too did student enrollment in the District of Columbia Schools (DCPS) and public charter schools.  Since Fiscal Year 2015, my administration has provided public charter schools over $500 million for school facilities through the per pupil facility allotment, and has awarded over $13 million to high-performing public charter schools through ‘Scholarships for Opportunities and Results’ (SOAR) facilities grant funding.

During my tenure, we have converted three facilities to public charter use; these schools now serve approximately 2,000 public charter school students.  We also established the Cross-Sector Collaboration Task Force in August 2015, to increase dialog and coordination between DCPS and our public charter schools, especially with respect to the opening, closing, and siting of school facilities.  My administration will also be completing a Public Education Master Facilities Plan (MFP) this year.  The MFP will identify schools that are currently underutilized or overcrowded and provide recommendations on how to address these imbalances as well as identify potential gaps between future facility needs and anticipated public school enrollment growth.  Additionally, to address overutilization, the District’s FY 19-24 Capital Improvement Plan includes $40 million to add permanent classroom capacity at two of DCPS’s most over-utilized schools.”

Ms. Bowser includes with her letter a spreadsheet of vacant and “significantly underused” DCPS facilities.

In consulting with Friends of Choice in Urban Schools regarding the mayor’s response, it appears that several of her statements are not perfectly accurate.

First, it is true as Ms. Bowser states that under the law every vacant building need not be deemed a surplus property.  However, the law was intended as a method of making these sites available to charter schools.  Simply holding them without explanation means she is restricting access to quality school seats to children living in the District of Columbia.

In addition, the Bowser Administration has really not “awarded over $13 million to high-performing public charter schools through ‘Scholarships for Opportunities and Results’ (SOAR) facilities grant funding.”  These dollars are provided at the federal level and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education then grants them to public charter schools.  Going forward, the awards will be given to each charter school based upon a per pupil allotment.

Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, the Mayor has not turned over three former DCPS buildings to charters.  In fact, the conversions she included in her letter to Senator Johnson had taken place years earlier and these buildings were already being utilized by the sector.

Specifically, M.C. Terrell-McGogney Elementary School, as the Washington Post’s Emma Brown reported, was turned over to Somerset PCS in 2013 under Mayor Gray through Building Hope’s Charter School Incubator Initiative.  In 2016, Mayor Bowser renewed the incubator lease.  The William B. Keene Elementary School was awarded to Dorothy I. Height Community Academy in 2008.  After Community Academy was shuttered by the D.C. Public Charter School Board in 2013 the site was transferred to DC Bilingual PCS.  Finally, the P.R. Harris Educational Center has been the home to National Collegiate Preparatory Public Charter High School and Ingenuity Prep PCS again as part of the Charter School Incubator project.  Ms. Bowser renewed the lease for this space in 2016.

In fact, there have been no vacant or underutilized DCPS buildings turned over to charters to date since Muriel Bowser came into office in 2015.

 

 

 

 

D.C. charters lose five former DCPS schools that could have expanded movement

Yesterday, Jon Banister of Bisnow Washington D.C. revealed that Mayor Muriel Bowser has turned five former DCPS schools over to developers.  These historic and beautiful buildings could have played a major role in expanding our local charter school movement.  For example, Rocketship PCS and KIPP DC are in desperate need of facilities and I’m sure there are many more charters that could have used the available space to try and meet the wait list of 11,317 children whose parents are trying to get them into one of these institutions.

The re-purposed structure, according to Mr. Banister,  include the Franklin School which will become Planet Word, a museum to the language arts.  It is 51,000 square feet and was built as one of the initial neighborhood public schools in our city.  The Crummell School,  which honors abolitionist and teacher Reverend Alexander Crummell, served black students in the 1900s.  It is 108,000 square feet and will become a mixed use development.

The Grimke School gets its name from NAACP president Archibald Grimke.  It currently houses the African-American Civil War Museum.  The approximately 45,000-square-foot property will continue to be the home of the museum plus office space for its architect.  There will also be some room for a cultural organization.

The Randall School used to be the Francis Cardozo Elementary School and Randall Junior High School.  This approximately 50,000 square foot building will become a museum, office space, and restaurants.

Finally, the Hine School, which used to be Hine Junior High School, has become a Trader Joe’s, taking up 60,000 square feet.

So hundreds of thousands of square feet of surplus DCPS facilities that by law should have gone to charter schools are now being converted to commercial uses.  The next time that you hear Ms. Bowser talk about her support for public education and charter schools please be brave enough to remind her that her claims could not be further from the truth.

 

Walton Foundation attempts to boost charter school facility funding

The Walton Family Foundation announced this week the creation of two new funds that could play a major role in aiding charter schools across this country obtain permanent facilities.  Of course, securing permanent buildings is the greatest, and seemingly most intractable, problem facing these institutions.

The Charter Impact Fund, as described by the foundation’s press release and formed with an initial $200 million investment, is a non-profit that will “provide long-term, fixed-rate loans—similar to a home mortgage—to high-performing charter schools anywhere in the country for up to 100 percent of project costs. The CIF provides charter schools with access to lower transaction costs and quicker loan execution —allowing each school to save several million dollars over the loan term.”

A second financing mechanism, The Facilities Investment Fund, will offer five-year fixed-rate loans to charter schools in order to cover 90 percent of a renovation or new building.  Backed with $100 million, it has been originated through a partnership with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and overseen by Civic Builders.

Both of these moves seem promising and it will be interesting to see if they provide value to charters here in D.C.  But what if charters do not have the money or cash flow to support loans?  In addition, support of renovation costs does not help if buildings cannot be found.  The District has such a strong commercial real estate market that identifying potential facilities is a puzzle that often cannot be solved.

I have been thinking for sometime now that locally we should adopt the method that Denver uses for adding charters. In that city the school district builds facilities for them.  But at the 2018 FOCUS Gala, Scott Pearson, the executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board, pointed out to me that the situation there is actually not working as planned.  For example, he pointed out that the Denver School of Science and Technology, a school I have visited that has essentially been able to close the achievement gap between affluent and poor students, has several charters in the pipeline ready to open but Denver Public Schools has yet to construct their homes.

Perhaps there is no solution to the charter school facility issue.

 

Mayor Bowser proposes increase to public school funding in an apparent move to shift narrative away from current controversies

Yesterday, Ms. Bowser released her fiscal year 2019 budget, and public education stakeholders are ecstatic that it includes a 3.91 percent increase in the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula.  If passed, her proposal would raise the base of the UPSFF to $10,658 per pupil.  The reason for the enthusiasm is that last year a working group that convened over six months under the auspices of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to review the city’s school budget recommended a 3.5 percent increase.  However the Mayor, in last year’s spending plan, suggested a rise of only 1.5 percent.  The D.C. Council then took this number and doubled it to 3 percent.  The 2019 budget also included a 2.2 percent jump in the charter school per pupil facility allotment.

So why the sudden change of heart by Ms. Bowser? Well, a few issues have popped up over the previous 12 months.  It was discovered that the Chancellor she hired, Antwan Wilson, had one of his children transfer schools outside of the lottery and in violation of a policy he had created and signed.  This led to his forced resignation together with that of Ms. Bowser’s coveted Deputy Mayor for Education Jennie Niles.  There are now allegations that the Mayor was told by Mr. Wilson of his discretionary placement months before it was known to the public.  At the same time, a WAMU and NPR story led to the realization that hundreds of students received high school diplomas from DCPS facilities in 2017 who never should have graduated.  Next, it was uncovered that more than half of all students attending Duke Ellington School of the Arts falsify their home addresses to show they live in the District so they don’t have to pay tuition.   A lawyer for OSSE was apparently told by higher-ups not to rush an investigation into this matter because it is an election year.

Finally, last week, there was the Mayor’s State of the District Address, in which she provided no solutions for the recent ills of DCPS, or an explanation of who she would bring in to fill her top two administrative education positions.  Tonight is the 2018 FOCUS Gala and Ms. Bowser is expected to attend.  Which do you think she would rather talk about, the recent problems with the traditional schools or more money for charters?

The new incremental dollars will also deflect calls for a modification of the structure of Mayoral control over the public schools.

The Washington Post’s Fenit Nirappil, Perry Stein, and Faiz Siddiqui, in an article appearing yesterday, state that the added money for education is not that big of a deal.  They write:

“While some education watchdogs celebrated the per-pupil spending increase, Marlana Wallace, a policy analyst with the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, said it’s not as high as it appears. According to Wallace, part of that increase covers raises for teachers that came after the union reached a contract agreement with the city for the first time in five years.”

Moreover, before you get too excited about the extra revenue, I feel an obligation to point out Ms. Bowser’s 2019 budget also has a line item for $1.35 billion toward the modernization of another 26 DCPS buildings.  Charters do not get a dime of these funds.  They have to cover renovation costs out of the per pupil facility allotment.