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Co-locations of charters with DCPS could increase size of movement, or not

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Yesterday, the Washington Post's Emma Brown focused an article on one aspect of the Deputy Mayor for Education's Adequacy Study that was released Tuesday. The report calls for increased use of charter school co-locations with traditional schools as a means of providing each system more efficient utilization of space. The securing of facilities is a tremendous problem for charters and it is an issue no one across the country has been able to satisfactorily solve. Ms. Brown points out that Achievement Prep and Bridges Public Charter Schools currently share buildings with DCPS.

In New York City co-location of charters with regular schools is common and it has led to highly emotional fights and lawsuits as the schools involved have pushed for more room. But these problems have resulted mainly from charters being given space for free, a situation that does not exist in this town. Here in the nation's capital the expanded use of co-location could be a boon for the local charter school movement.

The change would expose parents to the high quality offerings of the charter school portfolio. Even if a charter is not rated as a D.C. Public Charter School Board Performance Management Framework Tier 1 it often resembles more of a private school than a public one. In general, the physical appearance of the space will be neat and organized, the class size will be small, teachers will be enthusiastic, and discipline will be maintained. But most importantly, the parents and children will be the customer. All of these factors could lead traditional school parents who observe the charter experience to sign up for these alternative schools. Or perhaps a different scenario will occur.

The co-location of schools might raise the level of competition for students. Chancellor Henderson is proud of her product and is making every effort to improve academic quality. The sharing of space may very well accelerate the numerous positive advances initiated under her watch.

Whatever the outcome it appears one thing is certain. Children will be the winners in regard to their public education in Washington, D.C.

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