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NATIONAL EXPOSURE TO THE PLIGHT OF DC CHARTER SCHOOLS

Wall Street Journal
June 25, 2019

Wall Street Journal has words for the Mayor and advice for Congress

 

The Washington, D.C. City Council on Wednesday is meeting to discuss charter schools. Let’s hope someone asks Mayor Muriel Bowser why her administration is denying space to charters—at the same time it plans to spend millions to refurbish under-utilized traditional schools.

The most glaring example is the decision to evict AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School from the campus of Jefferson Middle School, a traditional public school in the city’s southwest. AppleTree is a top performing charter serving pre-K students with the aim of closing the achievement gap before these children get to kindergarten. For five years it has operated out of portable classrooms on the Jefferson Middle School campus while it looks for more permanent space.

But city officials now say AppleTree needs to be out by July 31 because they want to refurbish Jefferson. The eviction notice was signed by Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn. The city plans to spend $80 million to modernize Jefferson and expand its capacity to 540 kids when it reopens—though there are only 340 kids enrolled now.

Meanwhile, the city has a waiting list of 11,000 children for charters. The advent of charters has been one of the great reforms of the D.C. school system, giving parents more good schools to choose from and providing competition for traditional schools. But as in New York, they often find themselves hostage to officials who deny them space.

If Mayor Bowser won’t find space for well-performing charters such as AppleTree, maybe Congress—which passed the reform that led to charters opening in the district—should take steps to make it harder for city officials to jerk these charter kids around.

Picture of Jefferson Middle School
(Low Performing DCPS School)

Picture of Appletree
(High Performing Public Charter School)

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