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Valerie Jablow: D.C. Chancellor Ferebee is Cutting the Budgets of Public Schools While Shifting Funds to New Charter Schools

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Valerie Jablow, parent activist and blogger in D.C., wrote a scathing indictment of the leadership of the District of Columbia Public Schools.

She is sure that the districts leaders are actively undermining public schools–a policy of benign neglect– and promoting charter expansion.

A few weeks ago, the D.C. Public Charter School Board [sic] approved five new charter schools, despite the large number of empty seats in both public and private charter schools.  Only one of the new charters will locate in Anacostia, the city’s highest poverty district.

Many of the public schools enrolling students with high needs are suffering devastating budget cuts. At the same time, the Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn testified that the city was “over investing” in these same schools. She notes that the Deputy Mayor sends his own child to an expensive private school where it is just fine to “overinvest” in education.

Chancellor Lewis Ferebee was hired away from Indianapolis, where he was actively collaborating with those who supported the privatization of public education. Now he oversees the harsh budget cuts inflicted on D.C.’s public schools, while declaring that more seats are needed for charter schools. Conditions are so bad in many of the district’s public schools that students are literally being pushed out of public schools and forced to seek “choices” other than their neighborhood public schools.

Chancellor Ferebee is a member of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change, which actively promotes vouchers, charter schools, and high-stakes testing.

And here is a voice in the D.C. wilderness, a teacher and Vice Chair of the Ward 7 Education Council, calling for a moratorium on charters in D.C., because they open and close at will and have no allegiance to their community, nor do they fill any need. Venola M. Rolle wrote in a letter to the Washington Post:

Stories regarding sudden closures and substandard performance justify a moratorium on establishing charter schools in this city. I do not know what information could be more damning. It’s time to have an open discussion about how to cease the proliferation of charter schools in the city and, instead, devise approaches to strengthening the schools we already have and that are the anchors of our communities.

With the current leadership of D.C., its mayor, its deputy mayor for education, and its chancellor, that discussion is not likely to happen.

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