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Charter Schools Succeed in DC

From the lead story on the front page of the Washington Post:

Students in the District’s charter schools have opened a solid academic lead over those in its traditional public schools, adding momentum to a movement that is recasting public education in the city.

The gains show up on national standardized tests and the city’s own tests in reading and math, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. Charters have been particularly successful with low-income children, who make up two-thirds of D.C. public school students.

A dozen years after it was created by Congress, the city’s charter system has taken shape as a fast-growing network of schools, whose ability to tap into private donors, bankers and developers has made it possible to fund impressive facilities, expand programs and reduce class sizes.

With freedom to experiment, the independent, nonprofit charters have emphasized strategies known to help poor children learn — longer school days, summer and Saturday classes, parent involvement and a cohesive, disciplined culture among staff members and students.

The emergence of a thriving charter system has altered the dynamics of education in a city struggling to repair its reputation as one of the country’s most troubled school districts. Since taking control of the traditional public schools 18 months ago, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee have pushed for major reforms. But enrollment has continued to shrink, falling 42 percent since 1996. The growth of charters has accounted for almost all of that decline.

The city’s charter system is now one of the largest in the country, fueled largely by word of mouth among parents looking for better public schools. Charters have grown to 60 schools on 92 campuses with 26,000 students, more than a third of the city’s public school enrollment. In a few years, charters could become the dominant form of public education in the District.

Want to count the number of conservative themes in this?

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