Public Charter School Board Rejects Four Applications For New Schools; Approves One Action Affects 2022-23 School Year
The following are comments from DC PCSB Board Chair Rick Cruz:
“As long as public charter schools have been in Washington, DC, there has been a debate about them: Many have been concerned, arguing that we have too many public charter schools and contending that they take away resources from more traditional options. And each time this Board has considered opening new schools, many in the city worry that there is not enough need and not enough demand.
“The Board sees it differently. Yes, the number of public charter schools grew in the early years, but for the last decade the percentage of public school students attending traditional and charter schools has stayed roughly the same, with more than half attending traditional DCPS schools. And that’s because both sectors open new schools, while closing others. With charters, we have a process of regular review and oversight that allows us to close schools which are underperforming.
“In fact, since 2014 when I joined the Board, we have opened 21 schools while closing 15. And when I say schools, I am referring to campuses not [local education agencies] LEAs.
“My basic point is that charter application approvals are but only one part of the story. One needs to look at the whole picture -- from applications to oversight, from improvement to closing if necessary.
“Often the controversy around charters is framed as one of budget dollars being taken by charter schools away from the traditional neighborhood schools. That is simply not true. Public charter schools get funded per pupil. The dollars belong to them and their families. And, over my time on the Board and in the sector, we have seen real increases in funding under the leadership of Mayor Bowser. One sector does not take from the other.
“Public charter schools were created as an alternative approach to provide public education -- to offer innovation, quality, and choice to families that wanted another way. In Washington, DC, we continue to work toward that goal. And our work is not done. We need to keep looking for ways – through our oversight and monitoring -- to make public charter schools better. Why? Because the students and families of this city deserve this. They deserve better.
“We heard a lot from the public -- on both sides of the issue -- and we closely considered what we heard, the data and demand. After that review, we felt that only one of the five applications met the high standard of innovation, quality, and choice to be approved -- and that was the one submitted by DC Wildflower. For that reason, the Board voted 6-1 to approve the DC Wildflower application but with restrictions on growth.”
About DC Wildflower
DC Wildflower plans to open intentionally small, community embedded, teacher-led Montessori programs that centers liberation and abolitionist teaching. The school will open in 2022-23 with 50 students in grades PK3 through PK4 and add a multi-age classroom each year, reaching full capacity in school year 2026-27 with 225 students in grades PK3 through 5 across six facilities. Each facility will enroll a maximum of 60 students.