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Should DCPS and charters coordinate more?

How much coordination should there be between DCPS and the charter sector? Probably more than there is now, says the Public Charter School Board’s executive director, but not so much that we return to the era of centralized planning.

The D.C. education scene has no shortage of anomalies. Expensively modernized DCPS buildings that are half empty sit near vastly oversubscribed charter schools that are scrambling for space. Parents who labor to improve their neighborhood schools sometimes feel their efforts are undermined by an exodus to higher-performing charters. With the approval of three new charters and the expansion of two others this week, those challenges could get more pronounced.

The deputy mayor for education, Abigail Smith, recently said that the time has come for joint planning between the traditional and charter public school sectors. But Scott Pearson, executive director of the Public Charter School Board (PCSB), says that while his agency supports cross-sector collaboration on a school-by-school basis, more systemic coordination could jeopardize the autonomy that is essential to charters’ success.

Some have suggested that the PCSB should refrain from authorizing charters in locations that might hinder DCPS’s efforts to revive struggling schools or create new ones. One commentator recently pointed out that parents in Ward 4 are urging DCPS to reopen the former McFarland Middle School, but that the PCSB was about to consider applications for two charter middle schools “that might compete directly with a reopened McFarland.”

[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.