Regarding the May 7 Metro article “D.C. fears overlap in charter offerings”:
Students from Wards 7 and 8 in the District travel across the city to go to school because their families don’t feel confident in their neighborhood choices. As a taxpayer, I find it disheartening that I have to enter a lottery and hope that my child is matched to a great school, when she should have access to a quality school in our own community. I am a member of the founding group for one of the charter applicants in D.C.’s East End, Anna Julia Cooper Public Charter School, which promises a child-centered approach to learning that focuses on character and moral development. I support Cooper because it will support every child in ways that go beyond their test score. At Cooper, my children will have access to the equitable educational opportunity they deserve.
Sharon Culver, Washington
A May 7 Metro article highlighted the importance of 11 prospective public charter schools applying to the D.C. Public Charter School Board to open next school year. But quoted remarks from the District’s deputy mayor for education and others that this is a matter for concern or, worse, a reason to limit charter school numbers were wide of the mark.
The District’s taxpayer-funded, tuition-free public charter schools educate nearly half of all D.C. public school students, operate independently of D.C. Public Schools, and have improved student performance on citywide standardized tests and delivered higher graduation rates, enabling many more students to access college and college-qualified careers. Some 11,000 individual student names sit on wait lists for charters unable to accommodate them. Meanwhile, the city’s own analysis estimates that an additional nearly 40,000 quality public school places are needed, disproportionately in the District’s most underserved neighborhoods. The real issue is not demand for charter schools but, rather, continual efforts by the government to frustrate charters’ access to adequate school facilities. Charters receive less than half the city school facilities funds as peers in city-run schools, and 77 percent of their students in the 2018-2019 school year were economically disadvantaged. More charter schools are sorely needed.
Ramona Edelin, Washington
The writer is executive director of the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools.