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Posted at 4:43 PM ET, 03/ 1/2011

DCPS joins charters in rising enrollment

By Bill Turque

In October's initial count, DCPS showed its first enrollment growth since 1969. An audited census released Tuesday confirmed the upward bump. There are 45,630 students enrolled in D.C.'s 123 public schools, a 2-percent gain over the 44,718 registered in last year's audit. The rise was attributable primarily to sizeable increases in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten enrollment, which offset continuing losses in grades one through three, middle and high school.

It's the first time that DCPS has joined the charter sector in reporting enrollment gains. The city's 52 public charter schools continued their annual expansion, although at a somewhat slower pace than past years. The charter student population rose 5.8 percent to 29,356. It means that 39 percent of the city's public school population now attend charters.

The OSSE Web site has public and public charter enrollment by grade band here.

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By Bill Turque  | March 1, 2011; 4:43 PM ET
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From Education Week:

COMMENTARY: What Is Behind the Discrediting of Michelle Rhee? By Richard Whitmire

"What struck me about the backlash Rhee experienced in Washington was the cloak of protection everyone afforded the city’s teachers.

Politicians, parents, Washington Post columnists—they were all quick to rush to the defense of beloved teachers, citing their dedication and years of loyal service.

The fact that the District of Columbia ranked as the worst school district in the nation and that similarly poor, African-American children fared far better in other urban districts (as much as two years ahead in learning) seemed not to warrant a mention.

What mattered was that Rhee was questioning their life’s work."

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Full commentary at:

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

"What struck me about the backlash Rhee experienced in Washington was the cloak of protection everyone afforded the city’s teachers.

Politicians, parents, Washington Post columnists—they were all quick to rush to the defense of beloved teachers, citing their dedication and years of loyal service."

Needless to say, Richard Whitmire does not cite any articles, nor name the teachers defended.

I can only recall one, Dr. Art Siebens (sp), and I don't think any columnist spoke on his behalf.

Mr. Whitmire seems to be sinking into the delusional world of Michelle Rhee. He believes that she took her 63 students from the 13th percentile to the 90th percentile on the CTBS, and that she received acclaim for her teaching in the Hartford Courant, Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America and the Home Show.

I read over on Valerie Strauss' blog that many people saw Mr. Whitmire have a meltdown at Politics and Prose a week and a half ago.

Posted by: edlharris | March 1, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Why such a surge in Kindergarten? Because parents, for the first time in 50 years felt as though progress was being made on DC schools and that it was safe to enroll them here, rather than elsewhere.

Watch these numbers fall next year.

Posted by: Nosh1 | March 2, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

This is not due to the closing of parochial schools in the district?

Posted by: blasmaic | March 2, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

eddy harris -- u have been on these blogues longer than I. That means you've read many hundreds (over a thousand, maybe?) defenses of DCPS teachers along the lines of Whitmire's observations by many continuing commenters and visitors. Asking for citations is truly silly. And I hope you have more sources about sentiment on DCPS and its teachers than the WaPo comment bloards. You might want to rethink whom you tag as "delusional."

Posted by: axolotl | March 2, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

axolotl & edlharris: Is it true that Guy Brandenburg was a former WTU negotiator?

In the Washington Post Guy Brandenburg is referred to as "a former DC math teacher." The link below though (from his blog) suggests he was also a WTU negotiator.

Isn't the fact he was a WTU negotiator hugely relevant to the news reader in assessing his credibility as a source? Why would the Post keep that information from readers?

Here's the relevant excerpt from the Post news story:

"A former D.C. math teacher, Guy Brandenburg, posted on his blog a study that includes test scores from the Baltimore school where Rhee taught from 1992 to 1995. The post, dated Jan. 31, generated intense discussion in education circles this week. In it, Brandenburg contended that the data show Rhee "lied repeatedly" in an effort to make gains in her class look more impressive than they were."

Mike DeBonis, before he joined the Post, identified him as a WTU negotiator in his Washington City Paper column:

Are journalistic standards for such things lower at the the Post than at the Washington City Paper?

Posted by: frankb1 | March 2, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: highquality4kids | October 5, 2010 1

"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 DC Council Chair Vincent 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: thelildiva4u | March 2, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Am I high or something? Do fankb1 and Richard Whitmire really feel the problem is too many people were defending teachers against Rhee's worst instincts? I would have sworn that the problem was the Washington Post editorial board (and, sorry, Jay Mathews, too) were too aggressive in taking the "she can do no wrong" approach on Rhee, and in the end, that led to voters taking matters in their own hands and voting Fenty out, in no small part, in order to be rid of Rhee.

Posted by: Trulee | March 3, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

It is hard to see how this amounts to an endorsement by parents of recent pre-Kindergarteners of DCPS under Rhee:

From OSSE PK3 -K enrollment statistics for years 2007 to 2010, for DCPS and charters:

Fenty / Rhee found places for 1300 additional students in DCPS schools.

( 7700--> 9000) = 1300
while charter operators seated 3700 more

( 3000-->6700) = 3700

Posted by: incredulous | March 3, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Also, lets specify what Bill Turque means by "primarily" when describing the source of enrollment growth. Of 912 DCPS students in 2010 filling seats that did not exist or were not occupied in 2009, 885 were in grades PK3-K. And there was growth of 473 in ungraded and adult slots. Cut Grade 1-12 enrollments into four grade-groups, and DCPS enrollment DECLINED in three of those four.

Posted by: incredulous | March 3, 2011 7:11 PM | Report abuse

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