The Washington Post has an interesting article on charter schools in DC in today’s paper. I have been tutoring at a local organization that helps kids from a SE housing project for the past two years. A lot of the kids go to charter schools, and since I’ve got involved with the organization and the kids, my interest in education in Washington has grown.
The Post article paints the charter schools as a good development in the wasteland that is education in DC. Charter schools have grown immensely since the system started in 1996: with 60 schools, 92 campuses, and 26,000 students, charter schools have more than a third of the city’s public school enrollment.
While students in DC charter schools still aren’t doing well, they are doing better than public school students: on DC’s standardized tests, the passing rate for charter middle schools was 13% higher on average than public schools. Records show that charter school students also have better attendance and graduation rates than public school students. Seem like charter schools aren’t wildly succeeding, but they’re doing better than public schools.
The charter system might be the model for the future of education in DC. Anyone who has spent anytime learning about the mess that is DC public schools know that even though DC kids have the most money per capita spent on them, they have the lowest test scores and graduation rates in the country. I don’t know if DC public schools is something that can be fixed. And I’m not sure that charter schools are the solution, but it’s good to see that they are at least more successful than the old model.