Both D.C. Council members Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) say it’s crucial to provide families with good choices for middle school. But Bowser’s solution is to replicate Ward 3’s Deal Middle School across the District, while Wells says that approach shows a “lack of understanding about middle school transformation.”

While more and more D.C. children are attending their neighborhood elementary schools, families often leave the system before middle school because of a lack of desirable options. Bowser and Wells have made improving middle schools a major issue in their campaigns for D.C. mayor.

“We have to send a strong signal to young families who are choosing DCPS that we’re going to have middle school ready for them when the time comes, ” Bowser said. “So it will be a strong initiative from our administration to identify those middle schools that need that strong infusion to replicate the successes that we see at Alice Deal.”

Wells scoffed at that idea. “Alice Deal is great,” he said, but “it’s 1,200 students or so. Not everybody wants to send their child to a school that large.”

Beyond that, Wells said that much of Deal’s success has to do with the relative wealth of its student body compared to other DCPS middle schools. “I don’t think we can gentrify, or should gentrify, the city as aggressively as what it would take to have an Alice Deal in every neighborhood,” he said.

In a separate interview, Bowser disputed the idea that Deal’s demographics are at the root of its success.

[Continue reading Natalie Wexler’s post at Greater Greater Education.]

Natalie Wexler is the editor of Greater Greater Education and a member of the board of the D.C. Scholars Public Charter School. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.