I remember like it was yesterday the evening I sat at the monthly meeting of the D.C. Public Charter School Board and heard the initial presentation regarding the D.C. International School. I had gone to the session that night representing Washington Latin Public Charter School regarding a routine matter. Soon I would began listening to remarks by Washington Yu Ying about its plan to band with Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School, Latin American Montessori Bilingual Public Charter School, and Mundo Verde Public Charter School to offer a combined bilingual middle and high school. DC Bilingual has now joined this group. I thought this was the most exciting development I had heard in my 15 years of work in the local charter school movement.
So I was initially highly encouraged when D.C. Council education committee chairman David Catania revealed that he was going to direct $6 million for D.C. International PCS's new facility at the Walter Reed Army Hospital campus. But hearing Mr. Catania speak about this topic a couple of weeks ago left me with an uneasy feeling. He justified his effort by saying that until a final solution is devised to fix the inequity in capital money spent on buildings for DCPS compared to those for charters he was going to support requests by the alternative school system on a case by case basis. This is not the way it should be done.
While I drive around town observing the seemingly unlimited dollars being allocated by the city to upgrading DCPS classrooms, charters are restricted in what they can afford for buildings and their renovation based on a per student facility allotment that has not been increased in years. The solution provided by the Mr. Catania, while well-intended, seems unfair in that not all charters benefit. This is why the decision, by D.C.’s Attorney General, which is supported by the Mayor, that the money directed to the D.C. International School by the Council cannot be spent because charters are nonprofits and not part of the government may eventually be a plus. Perhaps the loss of funding will force public officials to recognize that the facility allotment is not working. It is just another example, among the multitudes identified in the Deputy Mayor for Education's Adequacy Study, in which charters are being discriminated against.
Let’s sincerely hope that a way can be found to restore the $6 million committed to the D.C. International Public Charter School. Then, perhaps in the near future, all of the other 99 charter school campuses in this town can benefit in exactly the same manner.