The second round of proposals issued by the District’s committee on student assignment backtracks from the idea of lotteries and returns to a system of neighborhood schools. But the new, less radical proposals may actually have a better chance of improving school quality, at least in some parts of the District.

The original impetus for revising school boundaries and feeder patterns was clear: It hasn’t been done since 1968. Much has changed. Some schools, particularly Deal Middle and Wilson High school, are seriously overcrowded, while many others are under-enrolled. Because of school closures, almost a quarter of D.C. students have the right to attend multiple schools.

But, to the mystification of some, the members of D.C. Advisory Committee on Student Assignment didn’t limit themselves to fixing overcrowding and correcting irrationalities in the assignment system. They also tried to promote diversity and address inequities in the school system as a whole, through policies designed to distribute middle-class students more widely and break down the isolation of high-poverty schools.

A frequently heard criticism of that now-defunct first round of proposals, and this one as well, is that they don’t address the underlying problem of school quality. But the committee wasn’t charged with addressing that question, and it’s not clear it has either the authority or the expertise to do it.

In fact, the more radical proposals floated by the committee may have been an effort to use assignment policies to jumpstart the process of improving school quality, and they didn’t go over very well.

[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.