Last Friday, as I was about to board a plane, I read an article about an exciting initiative being launched in Washington, D.C.
During the flight, I drafted a long, gushing piece, praising Abigail Smith, the new deputy mayor for education, and arguing that D.C. was becoming the most important city for systemic reform after New Orleans.
Upon landing, I was on the verge of posting the piece when I saw another D.C. schools announcement.
This one took the wind from my sails.
I sadly shelved the paean.
Here’s the story: D.C. has recently undertaken two invaluable reforms that, when combined with the city’s other systemic features, place D.C. on the brink of becoming the urban school system of the future.
But a third announcement shows that some city leaders are still tragically wedded to the old, failed approach.
I’ll start with the good news, then the bad, and end with a recommendation for solidifying D.C.’s place as a national model for systemic reform.
The Mayor’s Office announced that unused district facilities will be made available to charters (with a preference for high performers) and that the city will establish a common enrollment system for district and charter public schools. Kudos to Smith and all involved.
When you add this to what the city already has, you can see the outlines of a true “system of schools.” D.C. has an independent charter sector (charters are authorized by a non-district entity) that is large, growing, and has...