Should some charter schools be able to decide for themselves whether to give a preference to applicants who live in their neighborhood? The leaders of at least one D.C. charter think so, and the D.C. Public Schools chancellor seems to agree.

At a D.C. Council hearing last month on proposed new boundaries and feeder patterns, two top officials at a high-ranked charter school in Ward 8 pleaded for a change in the law that would allow them to give an admissions preference to families who live nearby.

Later at the same hearing, D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson expressed surprise at the charter school’s stance, given the general lack of enthusiasm for such a change in the charter sector, and seemed supportive of its plea. She also connected the issue to the charter community’s recent opposition to joint DCPS-charter planning. Charters have said such planning would infringe on their autonomy.

“If that’s not autonomy — a school saying I would like to be able to serve neighborhood kids,” Henderson said in exasperation, “then what is autonomy?”

Under current law, charter schools must admit any child who applies and must hold a lottery if there are more applicants than seats. A task force that considered the neighborhood preference issue two years ago recommended against it, saying it might exclude low-income children in Wards 7 and 8 from high-performing charters elsewhere in the District.

[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.