- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 22, 2009

D.C. Public Schools and Friendship Charter Schools are joining forces to restructure the troubled Anacostia High School in Southeast. But Anacostia will remain a traditional public school, Ramona Edelin, executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Association, said last week.

“This is a great opportunity for charter and public schools to work together as [President Obama] is envisioning in his stimulus plan,” said Donald Hense, chairman of Friendship.

Anacostia is among 27 schools that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee said last year would undergo restructuring because they failed to meet federal guidelines. The No Child Left Behind Act mandates that such schools be restructured if they do not meet specified goals for five consecutive years.

The law gives school authorities five options: reopen the restructured school as a charter school, reconstitute the school by replacing all or most of its staff, collaborate with an external partner, undergo a state takeover, or develop another major restructuring effort.

Mrs. Rhee proposed five schools - Anacostia, Ballou, Coolidge and Dunbar High School, and Hart Middle School - be restructured under the third option.

The chancellor’s restructuring plan, which she initially outlined last year, calls for selecting an organization that has “expertise and experience in turning around low-performing schools in order to meet performance standards as effectively and as quickly as possible.”

She began implementing her plan for Anacostia in the last school year by firing the principal.

Last week, she and the mayor praised Anacostia and other schools that raised their graduation rates. She credited “the extraordinary work done by teachers and administrators.”

Ms. Edelin said she is glad Mrs. Rhee looked at successful charter groups in Washington to work with. “D.C. charters already know the neighborhoods and the families,” she said.