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What does DCPS acquisition of Hospitality High say about school reform?

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Yesterday, the Washington Post revealed that Hospitality High will relinquish its charter to become part of the traditional school system, the first time in the history of the local movement that a charter will convert to being under the umbrella of DCPS. The school did this to avoid having the D.C. Public Charter School Board fail to renew its charter when Hospitality High comes before the body this September. It appears that the move signals a new greater level of cooperation between PCSB and DCPS. It does not.

On the 2013 DC CAS Hospitality High recorded a math proficiency rate for its students of 34.6 percent in math and 30.8 percent in reading. It is a middle-of-the-pack Performance Management Framework Tier 2 school that according to the Post has failed to meet its established academic goals. After 15 years of operation this is not the level of excellence we have come to accept from charter schools in the nation's capital.

So while the PCSB has set the standard for a high level of achievement from the schools it oversees apparently DCPS does not live up to the same expectation. Here is where I think the take over of Hospitality High is a mistake. The two school systems should be united in setting goals for academic results. If the charter board has determined that Hospitality High is not good enough to continue operating than that should be the same criteria for Chancellor Henderson's facilities..

I understand that Mayor Gray is extremely interested in growing the vocational educational opportunities among the regular schools. If this is the case then he should create his own institution focused on training young people to enter the hospitality industry. But accepting mediocrity as part of DCPS sends completely the wrong message. The resolution announces loud and clear that it is perfectly permissible to be a failing school as long as it is not a charter. Our commitment to public school reform should be significantly stronger than this decision.

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