The Feb 13 Education Town Hall included one segment on issues with charter school facilities and one on the DC auditor’s report on enrollment and equity.
Segment 1 begins at 10:26 mark
Segment 2 begins at 45:00 mark
For our first segment, Ward 8 residents Tina Batchelor and Camille Joyner were in studio to discuss their experience of how a charter school, Eagle Academy, located in their neighborhood and how the ensuing construction and neighborhood opposition has resulted in their advocacy and activism around issues that in DC are common concerning school siting and construction—and illuminate what the public can do.
The neighbors around the school, at 2345 R SE, have worked together to follow through with many civic failings in its development, including a lack of permits, construction problems for neighbors, poor neighborhood engagement, issuance of revenue bonds to the school at almost the same moment the site was approved, and poor oversight by the charter board, which has appeared to be disconnected from the way in which the project evolved, from an approved school for Eagle to its lease to another charter entirely.
For more information, see the Channel 9 news story here. Contact the neighbors at randleheightsdc at @gmail(dot)com.
Auditor’s Report: Enrollment and Equite
For our second segment, Kathy Patterson, the DC auditor, and Johns Hopkins education researcher Betsy Wolf were in studio to discuss the latest auditor’s report on enrollment and equity, commissioned by the DC Council and authored by Wolf.
The report was a continuation of a council request to look into enrollment, this time focusing specifically on English language learners, special education, and at risk students. The report shows that school choice in DC results in families choosing schools with fewer at risk students than they would otherwise attend. One result is that high-poverty schools often face both declining enrollment as well as reduced resources, leading to a downward spiral that often results on closure. The report also outlined high mobility among students of color, especially in the areas of the city with the greatest poverty, which affects student achievement and other educational outcomes. In addition, with students steadily moving from charters to their DCPS schools of right during the school year, there is little budget recognition of that, such that the schools most affected are rarely supported enough.
The report recommends more accurate enrollment projections; aligning funding with enrollment much better and more accurately, especially taking into account mobility; and targeting funding much more closely to schools with higher percentages of at risk students, which would allow those schools to have budgets that are equitable. But exactly how that happens, and the nuances of school choice, were among the many topics discussed in the show.