Just a week from today, on April 1, more than 20,000 DC school kids will find out whether they have “won” a seat at one of up to 12 schools they might have selected.
Despite David Grosso’s recent attempts to elucidate from the deputy mayor for education (DME) what, exactly, lottery data say about why parents are choosing schools, it appears from testimony during the DME performance oversight hearing that the first and most important criterion for parents selecting a school in the lottery is proximity to home. (See the education committee testimony from 3/2/16, available here, starting at about 5:32.)
NB: It’s not programming that guides choice (it comes 3rd or 4th in priority). Not facilities. Not teachers.
It’s proximity to home.
So let’s look at some lottery numbers:
$592,000: The total amount of contracts in FY15 and FY16 the DME paid to manage the DC public school lottery. This is in addition to paid DME staff time for the lottery through MySchoolDC. (Contracts and their amounts are available here, in the DME’s written responses to the council, pp. 39ff.)
$178,000: Amount of that total devoted solely to advertising the lottery in FY16.
23%: Percentage of public school students in DC who participated in the lottery this school year. (See here for more information.)
$29: Amount per participating lottery student this year that the total contract monies from FY15 and FY16, above, represent.
$6: Amount per all DC public education students that this total represents.
April 25, 2016, 1:30 pm, and July 25, 2016, 1:30 pm: The next two meetings of the common lottery board (the group that oversees the lottery), according to p. 33 of the DME’s written responses to the council. (Apparently, the location of the meetings is on a need-to-know basis–I could find nothing online.)
$722,500: Total allocated by DCPS for student recruitment this fiscal year (from p. 96 of DCPS written responses to the council, available here). This total includes $40,000 for “enrollment incentives”; $50,000 for 2014 EdFest (administered by DME staff and those contracts above); $95,000 for “principal training”; $100,000 for a Ward 5 campaign; and $427,000 for staff for “enrollment initiatives.”
$14: Amount per DCPS student that this total represents.
$8: Amount per all DC public students that this total represents.
0: Times I have witnessed in a decade anyone from DCPS not employed at one of my children’s DCPS schools, or anyone employed by the DME, charter board, or any education agency in the city, acknowledge the value of my kids’ schools being close to my home.
To be sure, DCPS noted in its written responses (p. 95) that it’s partnering with DC School Reform Now to help parents in wards 7 and 8 navigate school choice and broaden their public school horizons. That organization helpfully includes lots of virtual tours and descriptions of DC public schools–the overwhelming majority of them charter schools, not DCPS.
(Memo to the chancellor: you might want to rethink that “partnership”–it’s, erm, kinda one-way.)
But if our city leaders don’t appear by these efforts to get that old saw about the importance of location, location, location, charter schools sure aren’t slow on that mark.
Rocketship is positively bully about its new (and expensive) Ward 8 real estate–and charter lobbyists have cried out early and often about unused DCPS facilities that charter schools want, even when at least 44 charter schools–about half the total–are located in former DCPS spaces they own or lease (see p. 50ff of the charter board’s written responses here).
(Though all that might explain why the DME is so concerned about school facilities in the materials she has released that the cross sector task force will make use of–well, at least concerned about finding unused DCPS schools that might be made newly available for charters, since most of that material relates to capacities and uses of both occupied and unoccupied DCPS buildings, all the while ignoring use plans of former DCPS spaces currently leased by charters.)
Ah, well: too bad no one is talking about the effect of such pushes for lottery-only school facilities in relation to our unmodernized by right schools or the effects of not investing in by right schools close to peoples’ homes.