D.C. weighs new admissions preference for children of charter-school employees

D.C. charter schools may soon get a new teacher recruiting tool courtesy of the D.C. Council, which is slated to vote Wednesday on establishing a new admissions preference for the children of full-time charter-school employees.

The provision was proposed by Mayor Vincent C. Gray as part of the fiscal 2015 Budget Support Act. If passed, it would give children a far better chance of getting into schools where their parents work. It also has the potential to shrink the number of seats available to the general public at sought-after schools that routinely have waiting lists of hundreds of students.

Admissions to the city’s charter schools are decided by citywide lottery, with existing preferences for the children of founding board members and siblings of current students.

Charter leaders argue that a new preference for the children of full-time employees would help them compete for talent with D.C. Public Schools, where average teacher pay far exceeds that of most charters. DCPS does not offer enrollment preference for the children of teachers.

“Family considerations often play a major role in a teacher’s decision [about] whether to remain at a school,” 22 charter leaders wrote in a December letter, urging the D.C. Council Education Committee to act.

The new provision would limit each school’s enrollment of employees’ children to 10 percent of the total student body. Employees and their children must be D.C. residents to qualify.

The council must vote in favor of the Budget Support Act twice — first today and again later this month — before the change can take hold.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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