Now that charter schools in the nation's capital teach 43 percent of all public school students and in the not-too-distant future will see this number grow to 50, I was thinking that now is the perfect time for the alternative school system to share its lessons learned with DCPS. Keep in mind that the original theory behind creating a marketplace for children is that competition would drive all educational institutions to improve. At this point in the history of D.C.'s charter school movement, in which several of our sites are successfully closing the race, income, and gender achievement gap, I believe we should accelerate positive change by teaching others best practices.
Timing is everything and I guess I'm not the only one considering this idea. Last Thursday evening D.C. Council Education Committee Chairman David Catania threw a dinner which brought together education leaders to explore ways to collaborate in an effort to raise the quality of our public schools. According to the Washington Post's Emma Brown, "Council members, parents and activists have spoken with increasing urgency about the need for a comprehensive vision for the future of public education in a city where charter schools are growing quickly, traditional schools are closing and no one is satisfied with the pace of increasing opportunities for the neediest children."
Already Fight for Children's Ready to Learn initiative is providing funding for teacher and principal training to improve the level of early childhood education. I know that E.L. Haynes PCS and KIPP PCS have formed the Capital Teaching Residency program so that they can impart what they have learned about pedagogy in the inner city. But what I'm talking about is taking these steps to another level. I would like to see one organization, or a partnership of groups, come together to offer benchmarked practices to any school that wants to be able to take advantage of them. Of course, this information would be made available to both charter and DCPS employees.
Critics have accused school choice proponents of wanting a winner-take-all outcome. Expanding professional development efforts to all school leaders, no matter which system employees them, would be a major step in eliminating this bromide.