The Prince of Petworth, a well-known blogger who introduced a generation of new comers to his rapidly gentrifying corner of the District, announced Monday that his family has moved out of Petworth for a very well-worn reason: better schools.
Dan Silverman moved to the neighborhood near Georgia Avenue in 2003, and began chronicling its daily rhythms and changes a few years later. Now the founder of the PoPville blog, which covers neighborhoods across the city, he is a father with a two-and-a-half year old and another child on the way, and he said in a post Monday afternoon that his family had to make a hard choice after they were zoned out of the boundary for his “preferred elementary school” last year.
“So basically my wife and I did some calculations – did we want to jump on the charter school lottery roller coaster (which has worked well for many, but has also been a disaster for others) or take the easier route (and recognizing that I am very lucky to even have this as an option) by moving into a different feeder school district.”
His post - and the anguish he felt at sharing it -- “I will always love Petworth,” he wrote — underscores the tough decisions that many middle-class families are facing in neighborhoods where baby carriages line porches of remodeled homes but uncertainty still abounds about the public schools.
The pace of school reform was a pressing issue in Petworth during the mayoral election. Many families are pushing Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) to deliver on her campaign promise of “Deal for All” — a vow to replicate the kinds of course and extra curricular offerings that have made Alice Deal in Upper Northwest the most popular middle school in the city.
The city plans to invest in a renovation and reopening of MacFarland midle school in Petworth in the next few years — currently Ward 4 has no stand-alone middle schools — and it is already investing $130 million in the renovation of Roosevelt High School, which is expected to reopen in the fall of 2016 with a new international relations academy. School officials are hoping these investments will attract families back to the neighborhood schools.
But many parents feel uncomfortable counting on unproven schools. Silverman’s new neighborhood, Van Ness/North Cleveland Park, will put him in the feeder system for Deal and Wilson High School, both sought-after schools with established reputations.
Dozens of commenters offered their congratulations to Silverman on Monday afternoon, after he posted his news.
One commenter, “Petworth Res,” joked to Silverman that he’ll be “bored out of your mind west of the park!”
“I always hold back a chuckle when I see the West of the Park residents, so stiff and uptight, as I drive back and forth from Petworth to take my kids to the good schools over there!”