This morning’s announcement of a slight rise in standardized test scores wasn’t exactly earthshaking. More intriguing was the backdrop: Stanton Elementary in Ward 8, a DCPS-charter collaboration that DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson said today she’d like to replicate. It’s about time.
Henderson’s statement comes in the wake of signs that the cordial relationship between DCPS and D.C.’s charter sector is beginning to break down. Henderson recently called for joint planning that would control the growth of charters, raising the ire of the charter community.
And just yesterday, a charter advocacy organization sued the District for failing to comply with a legal requirement to fund charters at the same level as DCPS.
Both sides have justifiable grievances. But collaboration between the two sectors is the best hope of advancing their shared goal of improving education for all kids in D.C. as quickly as possible. For a while it looked like D.C. was on that path, and then things stalled. Do Henderson’s remarks at Stanton today signal that she’s ready to return to the idea?
For the past three years, a charter management organization, Scholar Academies, has been managing Stanton as a regular DCPS neighborhood school, serving an in-boundary student population. During that time enrollment and test scores have risen dramatically.
The big news today was that the school had moved out of “priority” status, meaning that it has shown significant growth over three consecutive years. (Disclosure: I serve on the board of a charter school that is also managed by Scholar Academies, DC Scholars.)
Even before today, Stanton had become something of a showpiece for DCPS. During a visit from Education Secretary Arne Duncan in February, Mayor Vincent Gray said of the school’s success, “We simply need to bottle this and figure out how to proliferate it all around the city.”
Today, according to a tweet from The Post’s Michael Alison Chandler, Henderson called Stanton “an amazing example of what happens when we work together,” referring to charters and traditional schools. And according to WAMU’s Martin Austermuhle, she said the Stanton-Scholar Academies model “could be taken to other struggling DCPS schools.”
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.