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Posted at 8:23 PM ET, 02/ 2/2011

Friends of Bedford apply for charter

By Bill Turque

Friends of Bedford, the New York-based school management group ousted from Dunbar High by the DCPS in December, has applied to open a new public charter high school in Ward 4 in the fall of 2012.

Bedford, hired by former chancellor Michelle A. Rhee in 2008 to turn around Dunbar, was removed by interim chancellor Kaya Henderson amid growing concerns about safety and academics at the struggling high school. It is one of 19 groups that filed with the D.C. Public Charter School Board by the Feb. 1 deadline. Another applicant, D.C.Scholars, is partnering with Scholar Academies, the Philadelphia charter operator that took over Stanton Elementary last year.

Should Friends of Bedford win approval from the board, it will be the basis for an interesting experiment in urban school reform. Bedford attempted to turn around an established public high school and, in the estimation of DCPS, failed. Bedford leader George Leonard said his group never received the support DCPS promised, and that while he had control of curriculum and staffing, he remained in thrall to union contracts and other city regulations (Bedford still operates Coolidge High School under its contract with the city).

In starting a charter high school from scratch, Leonard would be working in conditions similar to those that helped him produce Bedford Academy, the school that caught Rhee's eye when she was looking for outside partners. The Brooklyn school, opened in 2003, eventually became one of New York City's top-performing public high schools. Freed from partnership with DCPS, Leonard would be looking to duplicate that success.

The 19 applicants are a diverse group. City of Trees is seeking approval for a "Waldorf inspired" Pre-K-6 school in Ward 1. The Latin American Youth Center wants to open a Ward 1 school for young adults ages 16-24 who have not been successful in traditional academic settings. Driven to Succeed wants to found an all-boys high school in Ward 8.

Public hearings will be held March 21 and 22, and the Board will issue final decisions on April 25. A full list and description of the applicants is here.

By Bill Turque  | February 2, 2011; 8:23 PM ET
Categories:  Michelle Rhee  
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Comments

" Bedford leader George Leonard said his group never received the support DCPS promised, and that while he had control of curriculum and staffing, he remained in thrall to union contracts and other city regulations "

Like not picking the kids he has to teach.

Posted by: edlharris | February 3, 2011 6:03 AM | Report abuse

Well, competition brings customers. Hey Friends of Bedford I have a suggestion for a principal what about Dr. Kargbo

Posted by: PowerandPride | February 3, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Friends of Bedford were in way over their head at Dunbar since they had to teach all students in the neighborhood unlike charter schools.

Now as a charter school they can set all kinds of rules that students and their parents have to follow in order to cherry pick the students.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | February 3, 2011 9:34 PM | Report abuse

letsbereal2, what ever you are smoking you need to give up. You do a disservice to yourself and others by lying. The rules are plainly written for charters, if you know of one that is violating the rules, you should immediately contact the office of the Public Charter School Board. If not, go away.

What you fail to point out is that DCPS is dumping the students it has failed to educate in the lower grades, by making their high schools have admissions policies, thus pumping its meager test scores up.

Six high schools now have admissions criteria. Where will the students they failed to educate be pushed...oh my! into charters which by law cannot have admissions criteria.

Posted by: topryder1 | February 4, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

topryder1,

I don't smoke drugs. I think it is you who is ill informed. Yes, some DCPS high schools do have admission criteria but there are also many that don't. Dunbar, Woodson, Cardozo...

Let's not confuse the two. Charter schools don't have to take all children like MOST DCPS schools. If they are full they can say sorry we are full. DCPS can't do that even if they are full. MOST DCPS schools can't tell parents and students to sign a contract or else they can't attend. MOST DCPS schools can't force students to stay an extended day or come on Saturdays or they will be kicked out.

Please let's be honest in your accusations.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | February 4, 2011 9:01 PM | Report abuse

There is no DCPS high school that has to turn students away because they are full. DCPS has the authority to limit enrollment at any of its schools to what it feels it can successfuly educate. Yet we see them once again getting ready to build a large high school to replace Dunbar, when ALL of the literature points to smaller schools that are more manageable.

Each of the DCPS high schools has plenty of room to take additional students. I wonder why? Parents had choices and they took them.

As for extended day and Saturday programs,clearly if more class time is needed to help bring students up to grade level after they have been poorly served in DCPS, so be it. DCPS chose to use its after school money that was illegally confiscated from TANF dollars to have a play time afterschool program called Success for All. The question is how can charter schools do all of this on less money per child than DCPS does? There might be a lesson there for those who actually want to learn something.

Posted by: topryder1 | February 5, 2011 6:10 AM | Report abuse

Topryder1,

AS I said in my previous post DCPS schools (except the high schools with admission policies)have to accept all students who show up at their door if the are in boundary no matter how full they are.

Charter schools don't have to do this!!!
You keep talking just about high schools. Let's talk about elementary and middle schools as well. It is not just about the physical size of the school but also how many staff members there are.

My point about after care is not the quality of it which I agree DCPS needs to do a much better job of but that DCPS can't include attending after school as a requirement to attend the school. This is what many charter schools do.

Can you acknowledge that there are charter schools in DC that are doing a crappy job of educating students? Or are you just going to defend them all blindly.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | February 5, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"Should Friends of Bedford win approval from the board, it will be the basis for an interesting experiment in urban school reform."

How so? FB will be one service provider among many. Stop give support to the false belief that running a school is a science experiment.

Posted by: incredulous | February 5, 2011 9:12 PM | Report abuse

"Should Friends of Bedford win approval from the board, it will be the basis for an interesting experiment in urban school reform."

How so? FB will be one service provider among many. Stop give support to the false belief that running a school is a science experiment.

Posted by: incredulous | February 5, 2011 9:12 PM | Report abuse

@letsbereal2 - if the charters are worse than the public schools, no one will go there. If they fail evaluations, they can be shut down. Sure there can be bad ones, but there is a quick mechanism to end their charter.

On the other hand, if the charters have better idea, public schools can look at what they are doing right and imitate it. if the better idea is selectivity, let the public schools practice selectivity. let the kids that don't work hard enough to pursue a college prep path take another path. If the better idea is individualized, differentiated instruction, let the public schools do that too. If it is longer school days, or different schedules, with time for science projects after school instead of sports, do that. if the union won't play along, create a series of "charters" that are more directed by the district. When it comes down to what the real difference is between a charter and public school is, it's that charters offer an additional degree of freedom to adjust the program to meet the needs of the students.

Posted by: staticvars | February 5, 2011 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Since Congress elected to make DC "ground zero" for charters, the growth in this segment is impressive. What worries me is that many of these out-of-state operations are motivated as much by political and financial gains as they are by the needs of our children. Each year, the application process seems akin to a "feeding frenzy." I just hope the drive for genuine quality education is driving this wheel. Results I have seen are mixed, at best.

For more on my experiences teaching in DCPS, I invite your readers to visit my blog at teachermandc.com.

Posted by: dcproud1 | February 7, 2011 5:40 AM | Report abuse

Let us Pray
In Jesus name do not allow Friends of Bedford get a Charter School in DC to allow the mess that they made at Dumbar. and at Coolidge they dont matter no ones Listen to them and the Charter school Plan is a Plan that they got from NEW YORK and Mr Lenord Tweaked it to put in there Name I have Proff on Tape from a friend. Its time for them to pack up and go North they hit the district for 1.5 Million and they all have new cars and are not visable anywhere in the daily operation.They stay in room 119 when there in the building

Posted by: Darksecrettt | February 9, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

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