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Enrollment inches up

It's only a 1 percent bump, but after almost forty years of annual enrollment losses, the results of this year's early, unaudited count of the student population constitutes good news for DCPS.

"People are feeling more faith and confidence in our individual schools," said Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, who joined Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on the steps of Powell Elementary School in Northwest Washington to make the announcement.

The District has been a little stingy with the details so far. The gain appears to be a 1 percent increase over last October's count of 45,691, but they haven't specified. Much of the growth is in preschool and pre-kindergarten, Rhee said, with a gain of 481 students over last year. She said 73 schools across all eight wards saw increases, although they have yet to provide school-by-school data.

The data will be audited by a firm hired by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, which will verify student residency. The final audited enrollment is usually a bit lower than the raw early count. Last fall's 45,691 slipped back to 44,467 after the audit. Rhee said she thinks the gains will hold up.

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By Bill Turque  | October 5, 2010; 11:41 AM ET
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RESEARCH Michelle Rhee’s ongoing
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST machinations, financial gaming the system, and legal violations — in Washington, DC and also in Sacramento.
Did you know that every time she brings in a new inexperienced, unqualified “Teach for America” intern that she pays her ex-husband’s organization (he’s the “TFA” Communications Director) a fee of several thousand dollars for each recruit — which goes toward his salary and he then repays back to her as child support ! — that’s self-dealing. ======= Investigate the rattling skeletons in both Michelle Rhee’s and Kevin Johnson’s closets, while they’ve been protected from consequences by their big-money financier and corporate backers (including — deliberate prevarication, budgetary machinations & financial scandals (including misappropriation of over $400,000 in federal grants), sexual misconduct with students (teen minors)
and staff subordinates, cover-ups and ‘hush money’ deals
Must-read important
news article:

See website:


Posted by: honestpolicy | October 5, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

The passage of the Pre-K for All legislation in DC guarenteed universal Pre-K for three and four year olds in the district. This legislation was carried by Gray and receives annual funding. Under the Fenty administration the funding for this universal Pre-K program was mostly directed to DCPS - so it is not surprising that enrollment has increased. Free full day Pre-K that includes free breakfast and lunch regardless of income level is hard to beat. And before Rhee came, the Pre-K program in DCPS was one of the best in the country with a national ranking of 9 out of 10 on the National Institute of Early Education Research quality index. What is interesting, if not surprising is that when Michelle Rhee came to DCPS she was not supportive of the Pre-K program, believing it did not belong in a K-12 system. She immediately stopped plans to open a number of new Pre-K classrooms her first year only to be persuaded by families a few weeks before the start of school that this was a good idea. Staff had to scramble to open a number of new Pre-K classrooms on time without the resources and support to do it right. Ms. Rhee has since learned that the Pre-K program is the key to growing enrollment.

Because Gray carried the Universal Pre-K legislation, and has been supportive of distributing the wealth among all Pre-K programs in the district, DCPS may not be the sole recipient of the Pre-K funds in the future. It will be interesting to see what happens. It will also be enlightening to see how many students have remained in the system compared to past years. I hope that information is forthcoming.

Posted by: highquality4kids | October 5, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I would like to now how many of the 73 schools with increased enrollment also had a higher number of preK/ preS classrooms in 2010-11 than in 2009-10.

Posted by: parentof2redheads | October 5, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm waiting for tomorrow's story in the print edition with the headline saying "enrollment is unofficially up only 1%"

And then the post-audit article with all the stats and the appropriately descriptive headline.

Posted by: efavorite | October 5, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

FYI - DCPS school nurses were instructed to allow children without immunization records to attend school, in violation of the DC immunization law and creating a risk to public health. Once the head count was complete, they were then allowed to enforce the previous policy, one which had pushed the DC immunization compliance rate to 98%, highest in the nation.

Posted by: mcstowy | October 5, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

"The District has been a little stingy with the details so far."

Rhee is always stingy with the details. That way she can have these grandiose press releases but when the actual numbers come in the reality is not so grand.

It is great news that enrollment seems to be staying about the same instead of continuing to fall but it is very important to realize that it is because of the early childhood programs.

I have friends anxiously anticipating their 1 and 2 year olds turning three so they don't have to pay $12,000 plus on daycare each year.

This has to be part of the conversation because it is the driving force behind the numbers and not Rhee's supposed reform.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | October 5, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

This comment was posted in the WaPo nearly two years ago now, and near the end came the prediction of increased public schools enrollment, along with the reason why. Bonus prediction: Michelle Rhee's demise.

Comment on: Fenty, Rhee Look for Ways Around Union at 11/16/2008 1:22 PM EST
Michelle Rhee, who needed a fairy tale to be created around her three years in the classroom not to be laughed out of town, has no answers for the problems of the D.C. schools. Just like the radical right-wing policies implemented in New Orleans since Katrina, nothing Rhee offers will amount to a better public school system.

Lacking any discernible qualifications, her shocking appointment as D.C. Chancellor, can be understood only when you realize that Michelle Rhee was brought in to create chaos at every turn and inflict maximum damage on the district's public schools and its children. And as a cultist (Teach For America, New Teacher Project) and true believer she was had at a bargain basement salary. Really qualified superintendents were courted (Mayor Fenty spent a week in Miami with several members of the D.C. Commission to interview Dr. Rudolph Crew) but those candidates would have asked questions and refused to implement destructive or absurd policies. They could not be counted on to mindlessly take a sledgehammer to D.C.'s schools. The havoc that Rhee is now causing is no accident. It was the plan!

You see Michelle Rhee appeared in the District because and when the "global economy" was riding herd on this planet. Globalization is at the very foundation of business model for schools, charters, vouchers, data driven instruction, merit pay, standardized testing, and most perversely of all, paying students to consume their version of education. It was the reason the Business Roundtable and Bill Gates were so helpful in getting Mayor Fenty put in charge. The CEO's wanted a profit making private school system. There would be Wal Mart and security guard jobs for the kids that used to go to public schools.

But read the rest of the Post and see the economic earthquake that has now cracked the foundation of the model that spits up a Michelle Rhee.

Soon it will be every private school and charter school investor for himself. Private school students are being moved to the public schools by their debt ridden parents in significant numbers already. In the scramble to save their own hides the privatizers will throw their tool Ms. Rhee to the wolves. Stripped of her powerful patrons, Michelle Rhee will stand alone as a petty, vindictive, insecure bureaucrat who had to hide behind her BlackBerry and laptop, answering e-mails, lest she be discovered as a fraud.

And she will leave town. Hold on D.C.!

Posted by: natturner | October 5, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Nat: if Chairman Gray were not to retain M. Rhee, what changes would you expect DCPS to achieve in the first year?

Posted by: axolotl | October 5, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Do not forget that the Charter Board shut down several non-performing charter schools last year, after most charter schools had closed their application periods. I would wager that most of those eligible students ended up in DCPS schools.

But yeah, the major rise has got to be from the free pre-K with the crazy childcare rates in this area.

Posted by: scinerd1 | October 5, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

yes, several charter schools shut down. but several expanded up and now serve another grade: Cap City, EL Haynes, Washington Yu Ying, Washington Latin are all still adding a class a year on the top end. Cap City I think gets to 12 next year; Haynes is at 8th, headed to 12; Yu Ying is at 3rd, headed to 8; Latin is at 10th or 11th, headed to 12th. So, assuming each school has 40 students at the rising grade level (just a guess, I don't know), charters grow by 160 student right here. Plus there are a couple of new charters approved to start 2011-12. As a charter parent, I hate when Fenty has these big DCPS press conferences and no mention is made of charters, same thing happened with DC-CAS. I understand that Fenty does not have the direct line of "mayoral control" over charters, but to never acknowledge them -- explains why I voted for Gray.

Posted by: parentof2redheads | October 5, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

1%!!!!!!!! HOLY COW!!!! QUICK, Call the POST! They will certainly want to let everyone know that prosperity is just around the corner!!!

Posted by: adcteacher1 | October 6, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Enrollment declines have finally reversed in Oakland Unified as well; with the recession, not as many people can afford paying private school tuition. I'm guessing this is also a contributor to the increase in D.C. numbers.

Posted by: pondoora | October 6, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

The mayor practically confiscated Head Start money from UPO, so that DCPS is getting Head Start funds, plus the per pupil allotment for many preschool children. These funds were kept from kids in charter schools. Either UPO agrees or the mayor picks another anti-proverty agency for DC, and the organiztion closes. It's simple to increase enrollment.

The enrollment audit has yet to take place, so I am unsure why they are holding a press conference to announce a preliminary count.

Posted by: topryder1 | October 6, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

The insanity will never end. 1% improvement in enrollment is a lead news story, minimal improvements in test scores on par with the preceding trend and the lady is a heroine. Significant drop in elementary test scores is virtually ignored in support of the persistent lie that Rhee is great. the elementary kids should be the most impacted and reflective of Rhee's approach as the test never measure the same crop just this year 3rd grade to last years third grade. Aren't this year 3rd graders reflective of 3 years of Rhee?

Posted by: oknow1 | October 6, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

It's definitely the add'l PreS and PreK parents. I expect an upcoming article on how much Whiter the school system became as well. Free childcare until my kid can get into kindergarten somewhere better? Let me call the chancellor and have her open up a new preK class in my local school!

Posted by: dcparent | October 6, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

If 1% is now, then wait when everything is shiney and new next school year. People will be coming back in packs. [sarcasm] cough!

Posted by: PowerandPride | October 6, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Enrollment in schools nationwide is increasing. Let's not read this as people are thrilled with Michelle Rhee and so are flocking to DC Public Schools.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | October 6, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

So after 39 straight years of declining enrollment, through all the increases and decreases in the school –age population and the ups and downs of the economy over those years, this is the first year that enrollment actually increases. Doesn’t this mean something? If you’re one of those Rhee-is-the-devil folks, this is just another fact that must be explained away – likely without having spoken to parents who have seen the positive changes over the last few years in their schools. I know that some DCPS schools are seeing students coming back from private schools – seems to me something must have happened to entice these families back to DCPS. Yes, the economy is a factor but even during past recessions, confidence in DCPS was so low that parents found a way to avoid it such that enrollment declined year after year. And the fact that certain schools have added grades only says to me that demand is building and is being met by the increase in spaces. When the demand wasn’t there, schools consolidated and some schools had to close. Supply follows demand here as it does in every school district.

Posted by: tyty1 | October 7, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

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