In 1996, Washington, D.C.’s first charter school opened. Ten years later, the District is home to over fifty charter schools. Some schools are succeeding, while others are failing. IWF’s Carrie Lukas explains why this is a good thing for the children of D.C.:
Some of these schools are flourishing: boosting test scores and graduating students bound for college. But not all of the District’s charter schools have been as successful. Some have shut their doors for failing to meet performance goals or for administrative problems.
That’s a good thing. Failing schools ought to shut their doors. The real problem is when bad schools are shielded from competition, and stay open in spite of failing to educate the students in their charge.
For too long, traditional public schools had been shielded from competition. That’s not the case today. More than 17,500 D.C. children — or about one-quarter of the total public school enrollment — will attend a charter school this fall. Each of these students could have been enrolled in a traditional public school, but opted not to. Another 1,700 low-income students are using federally funded school vouchers to attend private school.
D.C. public schools are taking notice. The typically intransigent D.C. public school teachers are accepting reforms, including merit pay, in an effort to make their schools more attractive to parents.
This is the benefit of competition. Parents choose schools best suited for their children. Schools work harder to offer serves that will appeal to parents. The diverse array of charter schools that have developed in just a decade testifies to how woefully inadequate our traditional approach to K-12 education has been.
Read more on the subject in today’s Washington Examiner.