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The reality is that you cannot have a majority poor school system that works for the kids. Therefore, you need to somehow "shuffle the deck".

Generally true, but I'd amend it to say a majority poor school system can't work for all the kids. There's a decent-sized minority for whom it does work - but they're not in majority poor schools. And there's the problem - the concentration of middle-income and wealthy kids in a select few schools. (Busing won't remedy that, by the way, because many of those kids will remove themselves from DCPS if busing was in play.)

Regarding the general piece, it's hard to argue with any of the discrete points it makes - but I came away scratching my head. It asks, "Is school choice a good thing?" - and implies it's not, which is a perfectly valid position. But then there's this:

Charter schools have brought many educational innovations to DC and helped many kids. Unfortunately, the current track we're on is not to create high-quality neighborhood schools alongside high-quality charters and magnets, but just to eliminate one system in favor of the other.


Charter schools were originally supposed to serve as innovation centers, free to try out new education approaches that, if successful, neighborhood schools could adopt. However, when the number of neighborhood schools is continually shrinking so dramatically, what schools will be left to adopt successful innovations?

Charter schools have brought innovation to DC and helped kids, (certain) DCPS schools haven't kept pace - and the problem is with charters? That's an odd conclusion (albeit one I'm implying - there are no conclusions in the column).

It's an interesting theoretical discussion - whether school choice is beneficial to the system as a whole (not individual kids). In a vaccuum, I agree that it's probably not. But it's 15 or so years too late to have this be anything more than a theoretical discussion in DC. There are charter schools here, and there's enough kids in them that they aren't going away.

by dcd on Dec 14, 2012 9:18 am • linkreport

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