April 17, 2008
Nonprofits to Help Fix DC Schools
Today's Washington Post (Rhee Lists 6 Firms Eyed to Help Run 10 Campuses) reports that D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee plans to hire up to six nonprofit educational companies to help run the city's 10 comprehensive high schools. Rhee has invited parents to meet with her tonight to discuss the proposal.
Under the terms of the proposal, the nonprofit organizations would take over one grade in the fall and then run the entire schools beginning in 2009. One of the nonprofit companies, Talent Development (based at Johns Hopkins University), currently manages 100 high schools in 15 states. In exchange for its per-student fee, Talent Development provides curricula, trains teachers, and reorganizes the school into smaller career academies that offer students more individual help and intervention. Another company, Friendship Public Charter Schools, says that its proposal to District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) calls for Friendship to receive total control of the schools it would run. Among other things, Friendship would hire a principal for each school, train teachers, and introduce the organization's technology theme.
Rhee has reportedly been considering for several months the option of hiring firms to solve whatever problems exist at 10 high schools and 17 elementary and middle schools where students have missed academic benchmarks on standardized tests for five consecutive years. These schools are currently undergoing "restructuring."
Rhee's current plan applies only to the high schools. She believes that the plan does not amount to a privatization of the schools since the schools would remain under DCPS control but be run in partnership with the nonprofit companies.
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