American Elephants

District of Columbia Charter Schools Make Big Progress. by The Elephant's Child

The financial crisis and the travails of Governor Blagojevitch of Illinois have dominated the news, and little is to be heard about the debate about our public schools.  There is good news, however.

In the District of Columbia, known for some of the worst schools in the country, Charter Schools have shown big gains on tests.  In spite of  Congressional Democrats’ objections to charter schools, Congress approved a pilot program over ten years ago.

Students in the District’s charter schools have opened a solid academic lead over those in its traditional public schools, adding momentum to a movement that is recasting public education in the city

The gains show up on national standardized tests and the city’s own tests in reading and math, according to an analysis by the Washington Post.  Charters have been particularly successful with low-income children, who make up two-thirds of C.C. public school students.

A dozen years after it was created by Congress, the city’s charter system has taken shape as a fast-growing network of schools, whose ability to tap into private donors, bankers and developers has made it possible to fund impressive facilities, expand programs and reduce class sizes.

With freedom to e xperiment, the independent, nonprofit charters have emphasized strategies known to help poor children learn — longer school days, summer and Saturday classes, parent involvement and a cohesive, disciplined culture among staff members and students.

Read the whole article. The reasons for the success of the charters will probably not surprise you, but rather reaffirm your beliefs.

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