A new study is placing pressure on schools in the District’s poorest neighborhoods to improve, or face closure. The study, which was commissioned by Mayor Vincent Gray and conducted by Chicago-based IFF, urges the city to turn around or close more than three dozen underperforming schools and expand the number of charter schools.
The report is titled "Quality Schools: Every Child, Every School, Every Neighborhood." Charter schools – which are publicly funded and independently operated, are becoming common in Washington. In fact, more than 40 percent of public school students in the city attend them. The District has the second highest percentage in the country (New Orleans has the highest percentage). That number is likely to increase; about 40 schools in D.C. have an enrollment of 300 or fewer students, with many of those students struggling academically.
Some supporters of traditional public schools are questioning the study's authors. IFF has made more than $57 million in loans to charter schools.
As for now, no schools in Washington will be closing their doors. City leaders say they will hold off any restructuring for at least a year, and only after they consult with communities that would be impacted by any changes. Traditional public schools also have the support of the mayor.
“I believe very strongly in both sectors,” he told The Washington Post. “And I’m looking for the best education solutions.”