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D.C. Public School district less diverse than D.C. charters

By   /   December 16, 2014  /   News  /   No Comments

By Moriah Costa | Watchdog.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. — While some D.C. charter schools enroll a disproportionately high number of white students, several of the city’s traditional public schools have even greater disparity.

A review of the 2013 D.C. School Equity Report shows that ethnic mismatches between schools and the broader community are prevalent citywide.

Graphic by Moriah Costa

DIVERSITY: Some D.C. Public Schools don’t reflect the surrounding area.


About 68 percent of students in the D.C. Public School are black and 12 percent are white. However, out of 111 schools, 13 have a white student population exceeding 40 percent. Of those, seven campuses are more than 60 percent white.

In comparison, 78 percent of D.C. charter school students are black. Just 5 percent are white.

Only one charter, Creative Minds International Public Charter School, has a student population of more than 40 percent white. The other eight have 20 to 30 percent.

Last month, Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews wrote a column that questioned whether some high-performing charter schools enroll an overabundance of affluent whites. He later acknowledged that some of the schools could have a higher proportion of white students because they are in middle-class areas where high-performing schools are in demand.

Graphic by Moriah Costa

DIVERSITY: Some D.C. charter schools are not as diverse as others, but the D.C. Public School district is far less reflective of the community.


The D.C. Public Charter School Board posted a response to Mathews’ column on its website, saying parents choose where to enroll their kids.

“Because public charter schools are not neighborhood schools, parents are able to choose a quality programs anywhere in the District,” the board stated.

The DCPS did not respond to a request for comment.

The charter schools use a lottery system run by My School DC to determine admissions. Parents list the top schools for their child and are assigned a random lottery number that determines the students placement.

Charter schools are in high demand, with 44 percent of D.C. students attending one of 96 charter schools. More than 20,000 students are on a waiting list. Seventy-nine percent of charter students graduate from high school, compared with 58 percent at public schools.

Ramona Edelin, executive director of the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools, said what distinguishes charter schools from traditional schools is that parents have a choice.

“The whole point is for parents to say this way of education for my child is the best fit,” she said.


Moriah formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.