Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Charter School Effect 

This is the phrase D.C. Councilman Kwame R. Brown is quoted as using to describe the loss of children from traditional public schools to charters. It's the effect that all of us in the school choice movement have been waiting for. We were expecting years ago for competition to force changes in DCPS.

Some people may think that the Mayor's emphasis on the schools and his selection of Michele Rhee as Chancellor was due to his own interest in education. But this could not be further from the truth.

At the end of the Williams Administration the next person elected as Mayor had to call for a dramatic restructuring to DCPS. He or she also had to model New York City and find their own Joel Klein to lead the improvements.

This is because for years D.C.'s charter schools have been siphoning off students at an incredible rate. And the charter school movement itself was showing that it could teach kids in facilities that were safe and clean. Charter schools, often shoved in church basements or store-fronts, have heat that works and books on student desks.

So if and when DCPS improves the credit should not go to Mr. Fenty and Miss Rhee. It should go to D.C.'s charter school pioneers who labored through incredible obstacles to provide the public with a product that they so desperately need.

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