The Tide Rises in Washington D.C.

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NACSA is committed to sharing regular updates on the latest federal COVID-19 information available in an effort to highlight education policies taking place during the pandemic. Primarily, these updates will focus on the latest packages Congress is considering and guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Tide Rises in Washington D.C.

Scott Pearson, Executive Director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, has a new two-part blog post up about the questions raised in Emma Brown’s recent article on charter school growth in the nation’s capital. In the first post, Pearson argues that the sky isn’t falling for D.C. Public Schools and notes that contrary to popular perception, since 2009, enrollment in the district has been slowing increasing.

Why is enrollment in DCPS increasing?
Two reform-oriented chancellors, an education shift to mayoral control, and a huge investment in modernizing facilities have certainly played a role. But all of this has occurred in an environment of increased competition from charter schools. As was intended when they were created, the competition from charter schools is spurring needed improvements in traditional schools. As a result DCPS is stronger, better led, and higher quality than it has been in decades…
…Add strong charter growth to modest DCPS growth and we achieve something remarkable: overall public school enrollment has grown for four straight years.  More students are enrolled in public schools, DC and charter, than we have seen in nearly twenty years.
-Scott Pearson, Executive Director, D.C. Public Charter School Board

Pearson says that “it’s time to stop focusing on market share and to start focusing on more important questions:  Don’t we need more high-quality schools for our children?  Don’t good public schools – district and charter — contribute to the growth of our city?”

“As long as the answers to these questions are ‘yes,'” he says, “we see no reason to stop approving new charters of operators who offer that promise to the city.”

Pearson’s next post will address joint planning.


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