Charter Schools in Washington DC: A Reasonable Solution?

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Are They a Reasonable Solution for Washington D.C.’s Public Schools?

The nation’s capital has a problematic history with public school education. Washington D.C. public schools have been consistently ranked as having the “lowest graduation rate” in the United States for years (Brown). To address this problem, the District has started making critical reforms. Due to Washington D.C.’s long-term negligence of public education, charter schools emerged in the city in 1996 (Pardo 11). Since their start, charter schools have become a more popular option for D.C. parents looking for better results than public schools (Cane 9). But is it appropriate for charter schools to dominate the education scene in Washington D.C., while other traditional public schools still struggle? This research paper will investigate the background and success of the D.C. charter school movement as well as ongoing debate about the role charters play in the public education system.

Charter schools, which exist all over the United States, are “rooted in the premise of public, free education nestled in the ideas of parental choice” (Pardo 6). Since “Minnesota launched its first charter school in 1991”, charter schools have experienced “an enormous increase in number to over 5,300 by 2011” (Chen). Like traditional public schools, charter schools are “funded with public money” (Chen). However, parents have to “submit a separate application to enroll their children in charter schools, and spaces are often limited” (Pascual). Each charter school has an independent governing board that oversees finance (Pardo 6). Enrollment is based on choice, with parents selecting schools due to their specific focus, curriculum or other features (Pardo 7). When enrollment is exc...

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Pardo, Alexandra. The Relationship between Student Achievement Charter High Schools in Washington, DC. Diss. The George Washington University, 2013. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.

Pascual, Psyche. “Public vs. Private vs. Charter Schools.” GreatSchools.org. n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.

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Weider, Joann M. “Charter School Lottery Gamble With Kids’ Futures—and Often Loses.” Politics Daily. 15 Jul. 2010. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.

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