- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2021

D.C. Public Schools officials are about to kick off what’s become an annual lottery ritual for traditional public schools.

The event, dubbed EdFEST, used to be held in the cavernous D.C. National Guard Armory, but since 2020, it has been reduced to virtual Q&As in an effort to help parents determine whether a particular school fits their particular child.

Of course, that’s virtually impossible, as parents have taught elected and non-elected school officials last school year and this school year.

According to the D.C. schools superintendent:

⦁ In the 2020-21 academic year, there were 602 students enrolled in homeschooling programs, compared to 959 this school year. Parents didn’t gamble on traditional schools.

⦁ Public charter school enrollment is up as well. There was a 2.16% increase of 948 additional students this year, bringing the enrollment count in 2021-22 to 44,890 students. Parents know one-size-fits-all schools don’t fit their children.

⦁ In 2019-20, DCPS had 51,037 students. In 2020-21, the enrollment number was 49,890 students. This year, the number is an estimated 49,035.

Parents are supposed to use virtual school visits to determine whether preschool programs are good fits for their toddlers and pre-kindergarten youngsters. But such “visits” can be made useless by, let’s say, miscommunication.

For example, a parent says a child is potty trained, but teachers discover he isn’t.

A parent says a child plays well with other young ones, but teachers find out otherwise.

A teen claims he attended classes all semester, but faculty and other school authorities say he did not. (In fact, most of the students at some low-income schools have been absent for virtual learning.)

All the while, DCPS has lost track of a school employee who has spent his days as a principal in a Rhode Island Avenue school while also posing as a virtual assistant middle school principal for DCPS.

The records for Kelly Miller Middle School and other public schools must be audited and closely examined by local and federal authorities.

Indeed, DCPS already has said that audited data for last school year and this school year won’t be available until early 2022.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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