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Another Charter School Bites The Dust

Barbara Jordan Public Charter School, a middle school in Northwest D.C., is closing at the end of next month, citing declining enrollment. The D.C. Public Charter School Board voted last night to accept the school's decision to relinquish its charter. The school, which serves grades 5 through 8, will remain open until the end of the academic year and cease operation by June 26.

"It's always unfortunate when a Board of Trustees reach a step like this," board chairman Tom Nida said in a statement this morning. "I applaud their decision to put the kids first."

It is the third charter school to fail this year. City Lights, targeted to students with serious emotional and learning disabilities, shut down in February because of financial issues. MEI Futures, a residential school for teenage mothers and their children, had its charter revoked by the board in April for academic and financial problems.

Barbara Jordan, opened in 2002 and located in the former Rabaut Junior High School on Peabody Street NW, projected an enrollment of 115 this year, according to information on the charter board's web site. It currently serves 61 students. The school caused a stir three years ago when it offered parents $100 payments to enroll their children.

A 2008 school performance report by the board noted Barbara Jordan's "pleasant atmosphere" and small class sizes, citing the monitoring of special education students as a special strength. But the report also said the school suffered from scant parent involvement. Overall achievement was relatively low. Just 35.4 percent of students scored at proficiency level or better in reading on the 2008 DC-CAS. Math proficiency was 29.3 percent.

Barbara Tobelmann, the school's executive director, had not returned a phone message by mid-morning.
Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  May 19, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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Comments

So that's 61 more students for DCPS - just 2,039 short of Chancellor Rhee's projection of an additional 3,000 students by next September. If more Charter schools fail, she'll get closer and closer to her goal.

Luckily, depending on your point of view, such closings will mean there are extra charter school teachers on the public payroll for her choose among, so she won't have to resort to cutting teacher slots to meet the budget. These teachers, being new to dcps won't have union protection, so if enrollment projections are down, she can easily fire them - thus doing what she does best, while saving city dollars.

A win-win solution. Depending on your point of view.

Posted by: efavorite | May 19, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious efavorite!

I only wonder was this school originally chartered by DCPS or the Charter School Board? Is there a pattern?

Posted by: oknow1 | May 19, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

The Public Charter School Board Chairman is reported to have said, "It's always unfortunate when a Board of Trustees reach a step like this."

What's unfortunate about it? Isn't the whole point of charter schools that they'll compete with the public schools and other charter schools? Those that are achieving good results will attract more new students and will succeed. Those that are not will fail and will go away.

This school wasn't getting acceptable results, and its closing is precisely what the system contemplates. The pity is that public schools remain open no matter how badly they do and no matter how many parents would prefer their children to be educated elsewhere.

Posted by: Rob_ | May 19, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Actually, 61 and 2,039 only make 2,100. Pithy quips aside what I understand is that 3,000 is the Council's declaration of Rhee's estimate and Rhee is actually pushing the number 300. If it is 300 and all these students at Barabara Jordan choose a DCPS instead of another charter or a private, then Rhee still has 239 to go. Not so far away but there is much more to consider. Now to get to that point one must assume that all students who are in DCPS return next year and that the number of students who graduate and drop out is replaced by an equal number of Pre K and Kindergarten students. Shall I go on?

Posted by: jedxn | May 19, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Oh let them succeed (ha-ha) in the union led DC public school system. Just about as bad a system as can be, but damm, those union led teachers are great!

Posted by: 65apr | May 19, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Math was never my strong suit - though I was "proficient" while in school. Still, I should know better than to do math in my head. I'm sure the Chancellor is better in math than I am, but I'm afraid she's using Olympic-level verbal gymnastics instead of good math do her figuring on enrollment.

I'm still waiting for the WaPo editorial board’s comment on the council’s reaction to the chancellor's enrollment scheme. Why have they not rushed to her defense?

Posted by: efavorite | May 19, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

For the record - from the 5/12/09 DC Wire piece:
“Gray has promised the money will be restored if the school system can prove the projected 3,000- pupil enrollment increase will occur.”

“Rhee said the [$27.5 million] reduction, which equates to about $623 per pupil, will have a dramatic effect on local schools. If allowed to stand, she said the system will have 338 teachers fewer teaching positions next year.”

So, unless my reading skills are also lacking, that’s 3,000 more students projected for next year and 338 fewer teachers next year, if Rhee doesn’t get the money she’s requested.

Posted by: efavorite | May 20, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Demographically, the Barbara Jordan Charter school is surrounded by other charter schools. They can choose from several. Losing 5,000 this school year will not get 3,000 back

Posted by: candycane1 | May 20, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Some of these comments are truly inexplicable.

I am no fan of the charter schools because our children should not be experiments with untested plans run by goofballs with weird ideas. We have enough of that with current DCPS teachers trying the same thing every year even though it gets no results. Show me a charter school with a really good marching band, you know? Show me a charter school that is as well-rounded as an average elementary school in Montgomery County.

No, the only way to save DCPS is to take the best teachers available and put them in the classroom while firing the dead wood who continually churns out juvenile delinquents in their classrooms.

While I love my son's teacher for delivering results she has continually told us (in writing) that the last day of school is June 10th and told me the DCPS calendar is wrong. Sorry, lying to the parents so you can get extra vacation days is unacceptable and I had to get the principal involved.

Posted by: bbcrock | May 20, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

bbcrock....Really... Ok Two Rivers...Howard University Math and Science, Capital City, EL Haynes, L.A.M.B. Kipp. All have waiting list. The Charters are working and that's why the parents are leaving droves.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | May 21, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

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