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Just give charters the empty DCPS buildings

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The editors of the Washington Post today finally react to the published highly misleading characterization that Harmony Public Charter School, in its search for a facility in which to open, simply plopped itself down across the street from a traditional school that serves the same academic focus and grades. The editors repeat the call for coordination with DCPS as to where all public schools should be located and even raise the question once again of whether charters should have a neighborhood preference.

Nonsense. It was documented here that Harmony went out of its way to coordinate its permanent site with both the D.C. Department of General Services and the Deputy Mayor for Education. When no assistance was provided and the school faced its first lottery it desperately had do something to figure out the total number of students it could enroll. Only then did it accept a building too small to hold the program it intended to offer to our students and their families.

The solution to the facility problem of Harmony, and the recent troubles Shining Stars Montessori had securing space, is to turn over the 23 vacant DCPS buildings to charter schools. This would provide room for all charters currently in need of classrooms and would resolve the issue for years to come. In addition, there is so much underutilized square footage in existing traditional schools that if co-location was also an option then we could finally once and for all stop talking about this subject.

By the way, last weekend my wife and I traveled to T Street, N.E. to see the home of Harmony PCS. It is located right in the burgeoning Eckington area. Well-kept row houses and apartments line the streets. New condominiums are being built that are attracting young people to the neighborhood. Union Market and Two Rivers PCS can be found only a couple of minutes drive away. You can walk to the new grounds of Carlos Rosario PCS. On a quiet residential street we discovered Harmony, and yes, it is located directly across a narrow road from Langley Elementary. Then right next door to the traditional elementary school is McKinley middle and high school. It is therefore becoming, as the CEO of Harmony Dr. Sonar Tarim described to me, an amazing educational campus in which administrators and teachers can learn from one another the best ways to implement a science, technology, engineering, and math curriculum.

It is a wonderful world.

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