Charter middle schools? Because DCPS failure.

Suggesting that DC Public Schools should “funnel kids” into charter schools for middle grades was either “a stunningly truthful representation by the Chancellor that she doesn’t know how to fix anything,” advocate Peter MacPherson told the Education Town Hall on November 21. “Or it’s stunningly cynical…in that she’s at the service of another agenda.”

DC Public Schools “doesn’t do” middle grades? Advocates respond to Schools Chancellors’ recent declaration. Education Town Hall 11-21-13

Iris Toyer, another long-time education advocate, believes the suggestion means that “Once again, they’ve thrown their hands up…surrendered. They really don’t know what they’re doing.” Toyer adds that the suggestion reflects a systematic failure to invest in middle grades. A thoughtful, community-vetted plan to develop middle schools was interrupted by the advent of mayoral control, she reminds listeners.

“Someone will benefit from changing middle schools in DC to charters, and it won’t be our children,” adds Denisha Jones, Howard University Professor and member of BadAss Teachers Association. The Chancellor’s statement follows a regular pattern in privatization, she explains: “Declare schools failing, and then say charters are the only answer….but where is the evidence for that claim?”

Giving Up on Middle Grades

Back in 2006, Parents United for DC Public Schools was working with then-superintendent Janney on a plan to create robust middle schools. “But then,” says Toyer, a former Parents United leader, “Fenty came and Janney went and the plan went.

The Capitol Hill Public School Parents Organization also worked diligently for years to improve the middle school prospects for DCPS families, particularly those in/near Capitol Hill. Efforts have been thwarted, CHPSPO members have testified to the DC Council numerous times, by the proliferation of charter middle schools nearby.

And now, both the Deputy Mayor for Education and the DCPS Chancellor have publicly stated that DC Public Schools should let the charter sector manage middle schools. Most recently, Chancellor Kaya Henderson declared before the DC Council (Friday, November 16) that DCPS is not good at middle schools and should “funnel kids” to charter schools for the middle grades. (This remark can be heard at the satrt of this segment.)

See also the Washington Post and Greater Greater Education for more on this.

Giving up on the Boundary Re-Alignment?

It is important to note that the Chancellor’s remarks came during the DC Council’s “Education Roundtable on School Boundaries and Feeder Patterns.” Will the Chancellor’s remark, which many have called “stunning” distract from the complex boundaries issues? Was that its purpose? Or is the boundary process to be used as an opportunity to promote charter schools?

The Education Town Hall is planning an evening community gathering for January 2014 to discuss the charter-traditional school feeder pattern suggestion as well as the more basic boundary issue. Please contact Thomas.Byrd at if you’re interested in helping to plan this program.
We Act Radio mott: Do something!

DME Abigail Smith spoke with community members on last week’s Education Town Hall. Summary and recording here.

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