Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s leadership continues to drive students away from DC public schools and to shrink the public school system
there have been some developments that make the situation worse than it seems and we may see these lines cross sooner than we thought. I actually heard another favorable report on Rhee on NPR (funded by Bill Gates) today where the commentator actually said Rhee was struggling to keep kids in the public schools. I had to pull over to the side of the road. They just don't get it. That Rhee - and Klein, et al. - were chosen to preside over the demise of the public school system, not its resurgence. Their goal is to one day have zero schools under their direct management so they can be left to go to press conferences at successful charters, whose $370,000 a year CEOs will bow and scrape in genuflecting thanks.
Gary Imhoff writes in DC-based themail
Leah Fabel’s article in the Examiner is well summarized by its headline writer: “Enrollment in DC Schools Plunges as Students Go Elsewhere”(http://tinyurl.com/mc9moq).“By Monday’s first school bell, charters project at least 28,000 students, or about 2,400 more than last year, while DC Public Schools expect about 45,000, or 2,000 fewer than in spring.”
Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s leadership continues to drive students away from DC public schools and to shrink the public school system, and she continues to escape public criticism for it. But she realizes that her Teflon coating can’t last forever, so she also continues to make optimistic predictions that stand little to no chance of coming true: “Rhee said she expects regular public schools’ declines to level off by next year and enrollment to creep up soon afterward.”
One person who understands the importance of keeping an urban school district’s enrollment figures up is Robert Bobb, DC’s former city administrator and school board president, who this year is in Detroit as the emergency financial manager of its schools, trying to persuade and beg parents to keep their children in the public schools (http://townhall.com/news/us/2009/08/22/robert_bobb_hits_streets_to_coax_students_back).
Bill Turque in the Washington Post, August 24, 2009
Despite an advertising campaign and an early push to sign up students, the D.C. public school system will begin classes Monday with an enrollment of about 37,000 -- 17 percent below the total at the end of the last academic year, officials said over the weekend.
Enrollment in regular public schools often grows during the year, as students and parents complete paperwork and some transfer from public charter schools. But a spokeswoman for Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee declined to predict whether the system would reach 44,681 -- the audited enrollment figure from last school year and the basis for its $760 million 2010 budget.
Moreover, because the school system moved up the start of its annual enrollment process from July to April, the late surge could be smaller than usual."We anticipate a much smoother start to school with fewer families needing to enroll during the first few days," said Jennifer Calloway, Rhee's spokeswoman. She added that last year at this time, only 15,000 students had completed enrollment. In addition to a radio and bus sign ad campaign ("Go public and get a great free education!" said some spots), principals visited homes, held community barbecues and conducted enrollment fairs in concert with immunization clinics held by the District's health department.
Regular public school enrollment in the District has declined by more than half since 1980, while the public charter community has grown dramatically since the independently operated schools began in the 1990s. More than a third of the city's public students attend charter schools, which project an enrollment of about 28,066 this fall, up more than 10 percent from last school year's 25,363. Some analysts say public charter enrollment could surpass the regular school population by 2014.
The vastly different trends have made enrollment politically contentious. Rhee has said she expects persistent declines to bottom out, with the school system's numbers perhaps starting to edge upward. But the D.C. Council voted May 12 to hold back $27 million of the 2010 budget, because it found implausible her projections for an increase of 373 students, to a total of 45,054.
Council members contended that the charter schools would be drawing more students from regular schools. The council projected regular public school enrollment at 41,541, based on trends from the previous three years. Both sides eventually agreed to use last school year's number -- 44,681 -- as the benchmark.
D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) said Sunday that the 37,000 total is "probably low," given the school system's history of late enrollment. But he added: "I do question the likelihood of getting 7,681 enrolled between now and the first of October," when the first official count is taken.
Posted by The Washington Teacher, Story courtesy of Ed Notes On Line, Gary Imhoff-themail & Bill Turque/The WaPo