26 October 2012

"Charters Leading The Way"

DCist | Martin Austermuhle | D.C. Public School Enrollment Increases, With Charters Leading The Way

Enrollment at D.C. public schools has grown again, according to unaudited figures published by the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education today. The numbers show that overall enrollment in public schools rose from 76,782 last year to 80,823 this year, a five percent jump that caps off three steady years of enrollment increases.

But much like in years past, the jumps in enrollment have largely been led by the city's public charter schools. This year, according to OSSE, enrollment in public charter schools increased by 11 percent, from 31,562 to 35,019. Enrollment in D.C. public schools, by contrast, only jumped by a single percentage point, from 45,191 to 45,835.
DC public schools got 4,041 new students. Of these charter schools got 3,457 (84%) and DCPS got 644 (16%).

Regardless, city officials said the numbers were a good sign for D.C. “One of the strongest indicators that our school system is improving is a steady increase in enrollment numbers-an increase I’m proud to see we have once again achieved This marks the largest enrollment increase in the District’s public schools in 45 years," said Mayor Vince Gray in a press release.
So the record high enrollment came from students who were explicitly choosing not to be taught by city employees. I'm happy about that. Anyone who cares about education ought to be fine with it. I'm just surprised to see the mayor bragging about it.

No where in this story is there any indication of how many more school-aged children lived in the district this year compared to last year. Is a five percent enrollment increase exactly what one would expect from baseline demographics, or is it an indication that DC schools are more attractive than they were last year?

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