Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Janey Wants Brakes on Charters

D.C. Schools Chief Clifford B. Janey has called for a moratorium on new charter schools. According to WaPo Janey cites lack of quality, diverted funding, and high school graduates unready for college and work as reasons for a moratorium on chartering in the District. Lori Montgomery writes, "Janey called on Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), the D.C. Council and education officials to help develop a method for evaluating the city's 51 charter schools before permitting any more to open."

Funny thing is that D.C. has a method for evaluating charter schools--SAT-9 student performance tests. A PPI report, Capital Campaign: Early Returns on District of Columbia Charter Schools by Sara Meade, cites better average test scores across District charters than DC Public Schools (DCPS), a lower percentage of charters failing to meet AYP than DCPS, and a December 2004 report by economist Caroline Hoxby that showed DC charter school students were 12 percent more likely to be proficient in reading and 14 percent more likely to be proficient in math than their traditional public school peers.

True, these aren't stellar numbers, and there are some bad apples among the DC charter landscape, but this action by Janey seems motivated by more than meets the eye. When Janey says he isn't trying to push back on the idea of chartering, he's not being entriely truthful. Maybe Janey's real problem is in the decreased enrollments that are diverting funding from traditional public schools and leaving DC with a multitude of half empty school buildings (DCPS operates 141 elementary through high school buildings according to 2004 numbers, the most recent data on DCPS site). The PPI report cited earlier cites a Washington Post report in April 2005 that counts over 12 DCPS vacant properties and 37 buildings at less than 2/3 capacity. Strangley, Janey has expressed support for charters in the past, particularly when it comes to leasing excess space in underused DCPS facilities to charters desperate for a roof over their heads.

Or maybe Janey is just trying to build a stronger case for charters in the District. If he can find ways to further demonstrate charter successes, like grad rates, and college attrition rates then maybe the District will go forward with an eventual "all charter" plan.

Whatever Janey's motivation, his call for a moritorium makes him look soft on charters.


Blogger Davicker Civwohl said...

Perhaps Janey is started to come under pressure from unions and other teachers to start pointing out the negatives. Of course DC gets a great deal of publicity throughout the US. If citizens start hearing about how charters are failing in that area (with help of the Post) such citizens are more likely to vote to keep charters out of their state. This is not to say that everybody reads the Post but thier stories to circulate.

5:45 PM  

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