Emma Brown writes in today's Washington Post that D.C. Councilman David Catania plans to take a highly active role in running the traditional public school system now that he has been named to head his body's education committee. From the piece:
"He takes over at a critical moment for the public school system, which faces low enrollment and increasing competition from fast-growing charter schools. The city needs a thoughtful plan for how the two school sectors should coexist, said Catania, who believes the committee should help create a plan for the future of D.C. public education.
Another top priority will be wrangling school budgets, which he calls “a disaster” and a “hornet’s nest” of conflicting numbers. “My intent is to demand that every dollar we put into this system be associated with academic excellence,” Catania said."
There is only one problem here. Under the School Reform Amendment Act the Mayor has total control of DCPS. Mr. Gray exerts that oversight through his Chancellor. Having a politician run the schools will result in confusion on the part of teachers and parents as to who is really in charge. It will certainly dilute the authority of Kaya Henderson. Sounds like we are going backwards to the time when the Board of Education drove DCPS into total dysfunction.
Ms. Brown includes some numbers in her article and since we are talking about education we should get them right. The Washington Post reporter implies that the city currently spends about $17,000 per student. The real figure is just over $29,000. Charter schools, on the other hand, utilize approximately $12,000 a pupil. The voucher program utilizes even fewer public funds.
There is one tremendous bright spot in the story. Mr. Catania apparently believes it is wrong for D.C. to be providing charters with $100 million a year for facilities when there are vacant DCPS buildings (the number is over $105 million). I would love an opportunity to talk to him about my dislike for the per pupil facility allotment. Councilman, when are you free?