The title of today's article come from the words used by Soner Tarim, superintendent of the Harmony charter network, to describe trying to find a permanent facility which could be used to open his first school in the nation's capital. The Washington Post's Emma Brown quotes him as stating, "“I’ve never spent this much time during my 14 years of charter schooling” on identifying property.
Harmony currently teaches over 25,000 students on 40 campuses in Texas.
It should not have to be this hard to create classrooms that are intended to close the academic achievement gap for children. Yet, instead of congratulating Harmony for pulling off a miracle, many in this town are heavily criticizing the charter for opening across the street from an under-performing DCPS site.
The situation is absurd. While people like to repeat that their goal is provide a quality seat for every student in D.C. it is really not. Because if this actually was what we wanted we would take each and every DCPS site that fell into the State Superintendent of Education's Priority category, the lowest one for academics, and turn them over to charters that know how to raise reading and math proficiency rates. I quickly counted 26 such institutions this morning, although this step has already been taken with two of them, Stanton and Malcolm X Elementary Schools. It would make it so much easier for charters to obtain space.
The city is playing politics with our young people, doing everything it can to protect traditional schools that have no right to continue operating after decades of educational malpractice. But instead of following a course of positive change insults are being hurled toward the one system that is actually fixing our public schools. Let me tell you something from someone who has been in this for almost twenty years. It is not easy.