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DC charter school free market is alive and well

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In January I wrote that I really didn't know what was going on at the D.C. Public Charter School Board right now. I was downcast because on the heels of voting to close Options PCS, in the midst of a heroic effort by court appointed Receiver Josh Kern to save the institution, the body correctly decided to close Arts and Technology, but without first securing a high performing operator to continue teaching its 624 Pre-Kindergarten to fifth grade students.

This morning it appears that one of these mistakes has been corrected and the other is in the process of being rectified.

Last night the PCSB approved the takeover of Art and Technology by KIPP DC. The Board disclosed that the soon to be shuttered charter had actually received three Requests for Proposals and selected KIPP as the winner. Excellent choice. KIPP announced that it intends to expand the school to go up to the eighth grade. All current Arts and Technology students are automatically admitted to the reinvented school.

Earlier in the day the Board revealed that it would organize a public hearing in its consideration on whether to close Options. Remember that after the unanimous vote to begin the revocation proceedings Mr. Kern stated that he would not challenge the ruling. But his frame of mind changed and he requested the public hearing when the Board balked at closing the school at the end of this term and instead quietly decided that it would be best to keep it going until the summer of 2015. Although this move gave the site's highly vulnerable students a place to go for another 17 months it also created new challenges for Mr. Kern in keeping the staff together in what is the definition of an unstable situation.

In the past the PCSB has mostly cast aside passionate constituent arguments against charter school revocation decisions. Let's hope that this singular school falls into a singular scenario.

In other news, the Pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade Perry Street Preparatory Public Charter School, the old Hyde Leadership PCS, was approved for another 15 years as long as it closed its Performance Management Framework Tier 3 high school at the end of the 2014 to 2015 school term. Finally, it was announced that board member Emily Bloomfield had resigned and this was her last meeting. Ms. Bloomfield is working on an initiative to provide education to teens and pre-teens living in foster care.

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