- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2008



When Mayor Adrian Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee announced that 40 percent of D.C. school students met their Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) goals, there was jubilation from the education community. But something was left out - charter schools.

The animosity between the home-rule government and the charter schools is reaching the level of embarrassment and absurdity. Congress forced the city to accept charters as a way to induce traditional schools to get better. So, it is no wonder that the short-sighted City Hall is hostile to charters, which are public schools. But if the Fenty administration and lawmakers look closely, they will see that they are putting children in the middle of their fight with Congress.

When the city announced the AYP improvements of D.C. Public Schools on July 9, charter schools had not even received their results. In fact, shame on the mayor for not even mentioning them in his press statement. It appears that charter schools were purposely excluded. State Superintendent Deborah Gist apparently wanted officials to wait until all of the results of both public and charter schools were compiled. She hinted at that when she said any news on the scores were “preliminary.”

The charter schools got their overall scores last week, but who will know about it? Is the mayor going to give a press conference on whether charters improved or did not?

D.C. parents, whether they have given up on traditional public schools or not, deserve to know how children are doing in the charter schools, too. D.C. officials owe D.C. taxpayers and other stakeholders the same courtesy given to parents with children in traditional schools. (As a public service, we provide the Web site - nclb.osse.dc.gov for charter-school test scores.)

Mr. Fenty’s position on charter schools has always been in line with partisan talking points - i.e., charters are an assault on public schools. But he must not forget that winning by 67 percent of the vote in 2006 means that many parents and supporters of charter schools and other aspects of school choice voted for him, too. Mrs. Rhee, despite her claims of support for school choice, is finding it a lot less desirable when she is put in the position of competing. Winning a competition by stacking the deck is dishonorable - especially when the tug-of-war puts children in the middle.



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